Mars approaching opposition

Mars is just a week away from its closest approach to Earth this year. After this opposition, Mars will appear this large until 2035. A cold front brought cool, clear, skies to central Texas and blew away the smoke from the fires burning in California for a grand view. During the close 2018 opposition Mars was obscured by a global dust storm on Mars. Dust storms are common during oppositions, but this year the weather on Mars is clear. This image was made with a 3.5" Questar telescope with a Mars contrast filter, 2x Dakin Barlow lens, for an equivalent focal length of about 2400 mm. A ZWO ASI224MC camera captured 17,643 frames in 300 sec starting at 2020-09-30 05:27:02 UT. Exposure 15.14 msec and gain 209. Mars was 22.4 arc sec in diameter.

This is the Meridiani Planum hemisphere of Mars centered on longitude 16.9, latitude -18.8 deg. The best 5% (882) were 1.5x drizzle stacked in Autostakkert 3!, Deconvolved in Lynkeos, with final crop and exposure in Photoshop.

The planetarium image below with labeled features below comes from SkySafari:

Content created: 2020-09-30

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