Mars 2020 Close Approach

Last night, October 6, Mars was 22.6 arc sec in size, its closest to the Earth during the 2020 opposition. Mars will not appear larger until the 2035 opposition. I captured videos of Mars every 15 minutes between 2020-10-07 04:30 UT and 08:15 UT. Seeing in my suburban Austin, Texas, location was good with a waning gibbous Moon following Mars and mild temperatures of about 70F.

Video from a small 1350/89 mm Questar telescope, with a 2X Dakin Barlow lens, mild orange filter, and a ZWO ASI224MC camera was captured using FireCapture on a MacBook. The effective foal length was 2,800mm at f/30. Five minute SER videos were captured every 15 minutes with approximately 12,000 frames in each video. Camera exposure was 21.9 ms at a gain of 118 (unity gain is 135). Plate scale was 0.28 arc sec / pixel.

The best 1% of frames from each video were 3x drizzle stacked in AutoStakkert! 3, making the final plate scale 0.093 arc sec/ pixel! The 16 images had their white balance and exposure adjusted in Photoshop and exported as an animated GIF time lapse.

My setup with the Questar, ASI224MC, and Apple MacBook:

A typical FireCapture screen from the evening:

Content created: 2020-10-07

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