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Fraser
2003-Jul-14, 09:46 AM
SUMMARY: Now that Mars is closer than ever, amateur astronomers with regular backyard telescopes can see incredible details on the planet's surface. On July 1, astronomers were able to see a dust storm in the Hellas Basin; four days later it was 1,800 kilometres wide, obscuring nearly a quarter of the planet. Two years ago a similar storm grew in the same region and ended up obscuring the entire planet for months. Earth and Mars will reach their closest point in 60,000 years on August 27, 2003, and the Red Planet should offer up some tremendous views.


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Planetwatcher
2003-Jul-14, 06:07 PM
That depends on what qualifies as a backyard telescope.

For I have just a little 65 mm refractor scope, and it doesn't show any detail of the Martian surface yet. Of coarse it would help if I had a properly working Barlow lens, but I would think you would still need at least a good 8 inch reflector to see that kind of detail at this point. Although in the next few weeks, it will likely be that even good binoculars will see a storm which takes up a 1/4 of the planets surface.

Fraser
2003-Jul-14, 06:50 PM
From what I've heard the storm is visible in a telescope as small as 6 inches, but you should be able to see the polar ice caps okay with your scope.

Bjarne
2003-Jul-15, 03:18 PM
We've got a scope about 6", and if it stays clear enough here over the next few nights, I'll be taking it out and having a look. We've been subjected to a series of T-storms and the light show has been impressive!. Anyway, I'll get back once I have had a chance to get outside. :huh:

spit fire
2003-Jul-23, 11:33 PM
:o dust storms on mars...........hey i got a better topic ....is the fact that mars is orbiting so close to the earth have anything to do with the weather we have been having? also is it true that this is believed to be the same planet that lit the way of the wise men to see jesus. closest it has been in 60000 yrs. but christians are saying it is the same one. jesus was about 3000 yrs ago. i also understand that you will be able to see mars day or night at the end of august it will be so close is this true? B) puts on shades to prepare

Planetwatcher
2003-Jul-27, 07:57 PM
Boy, your'e telling me about T storms. Last week we a an F2 tornado strike less then 1/4 mile from where I live. Close enough we could hear it.
Took the whole roof from several houses, and the entire 2nd floor of one house.
35,000 people lost power including me, and it took more then four days to get everyone's power back. But so much for that.

It's not likely the closeness of Mars is affecting our weather.
We have Venus you know which is about 15 million miles closer then Mars, and it doesn't seem to affect weather.
But from what I understand there is a big high presure in the western United States
making it unusually hot in the midwest, and possibly Canada too.
The jet stream which brings moisture from the gulf and Pacific hits this high and the moisture splits and goes around it coming back together on the western fringes of tornado alley were it develops and brings havok to the east.

As for Mars hearoding the birth of Christ, I never heard that one before, but in the 12th chapter of Revelation refers to an astronomical event which pin points the birth of Christ.
That event is Virgo being endued by the Sun and the cresent moon under Virgo's feet.