View Full Version : How did Mars 2003 go for you?

2003-Aug-25, 05:54 PM
Have you had a chance to view Mars yet this summer? Share your Mars experience with the rest of the community.

Here's mine:

I invited some friends and we drove about 80 kilometres from Vancouver to the nearby city of Abbotsford to the Fraser Valley Astronomical Society's event at their dark sky park. We arrived just before 10, and the park was absolutely jam packed. I'm guessing there were 200+ people there; fortunately there were at least 20 telescopes set up, so everyone could look through several scopes. The big hit, though, is the society's home-built 20" Dobsonian - a gigantic telescope that had a huge lineup of people waiting to take a peek. Chloe was pretty scared in the beginning; she's never really been in the darkness, but she was a real trooper in the end.

2003-Aug-25, 06:18 PM
Fraser, already shared our Mars Party experience. Great social and scientific get together for our SORAC Proejct. Good food, fun raffle and great viewing from Hollister, California airport.

2003-Aug-25, 06:43 PM
Mars Watch Party report from Salem, Oregon

I am a member of Night Sky 45 Astronomy Club in Salem, OR. I was busy all
last week getting ready for our public Mars Watch Party which was held on
Saturday August 23 in downtown Salem, OR. Our club is a small club with
approximately 60 members of which about 30 are active members. We have been
planning our Mars Watch Star party for several months. We expected anywhere
from 50-100 people to attend the Mars party. We were lucky to have
cooperation with our local newspaper which had published several articles
over the past month about the approach of Mars. We also received brochures
and posters from the Planetary Society to use at our Mars party. Thank you to
the Planetary Society for their help in making our Mars Watch Party a huge success.
In addition Ed Flaspoehler of the American Association of Amateur Astronomers is to be
commended for publishing the great Mars card handout. I printed up 50 of these to hand
out to the public. As I handed them out to attendees they were very pleased to receive
them as they know very little about our neighboring planet. A big Thank you to Ed!

Several club members worked very hard over the last month in preparation for
the party. Our efforts were rewarded on Saturday night by the amazing
We were very pleased and excited by the success of our Mars party. By 8:30
pm we had well over 200 people in the park !! This was phenomenal for our
community to have attendance of this magnitude for a public event!
Originally we expected 10-12 Night Sky 45 members and their telescopes, as
it turned out we had 20 telescopes set up for viewing! By 9:00 pm there were
approximately 300 people milling about, looking at the various types of
telescopes and asking lots of questions. Night Sky 45 members were kept busy
throughout the evening explaining the different types of telescopes and our
various backgrounds and experiences. In addition to Mars several members
pointed their telescopes at other celestial objects that are so familiar to
most of us. We showed folks M-13, M-57, Albeiro, and many other objects.
Very impressive considering we were in downtown Salem in the Riverfront park
which is in a very light polluted location. This gave us the opportunity to
also educate the public about "light pollution" in addition to our talks
about the stars and planets.

A little after 9:00pm Mars slowly began to appear through the murky light
polluted eastern horizon over Salem. As club members pointed this out to the
crowd many exclamations and oohs & awhhs could be heard as most of the
public had never looked at Mars became quite excited. They were very
impressed with this blazing beacon slowly rising over the city. The
excitement began to build as club members turned their telescopes towards
the bright planet. Lines of 30-40 people began to form at each of the
telescopes. By 10:00pm we had over 400 people lining up at the telescopes
for a turn to get a "first look" at the brilliant red planet. For a majority
of the public this was the first time they had ever looked through a
telescope, their excitement was contagious! People were very patient and
eager in waiting for a turn to view Mars for the first time. When they first
put their eye up to the telescope they were shocked and amazed by what they
were able to see. Over and over throughout the night we heard WOWS
!......and Ohhhs and....My Goodness! as they looked through the eyepiece for
the first time. Most people were quit amazed at the details on Mars they
were able to see through the telescopes. This brought on whole new rash of
questioning about telescopes, astronomy, and Mars! As the observing
continued well in to the night, many people were still viewing while their
little ones fell asleep in strollers and backpacks!

Finally by 12:30 dew was beginning to form on the grass and the telescopes.
The public slowly headed home with a much greater appreciation of astronomy
and the Mars approach this year. Night Sky 45 members packed away their gear
with smiles and happy hearts knowing that they had provided a wonderful
service to our community, and helped to spark a renewed interest in our
night skies! We hope to have several new members next month at our little
club's monthly meeting. This is what it is all about.....sharing our love of
the Universe and hopefully inspiring others to join us in our constant vigil
of the heavens, and to wonder about the possibilities and the magic that is
just outside the door.

Thank You to Fraser Cain and his wonderful web site "Universe Today" for
allowing us to promote our Mars Watch party on the Universe Today web site.

Kathy Zendner

Salem, Oregon

Member Night Sky 45 Astronomy Club
Web Site Astronomy Web Guide http://www.astronomywebguide.com/

Vince Fukes
2003-Aug-25, 10:52 PM
On Friday The Astronomical Society of Victoria, were in Braeside Park here in Melbourne, thanks to the Channel Nine TV network, and the newspapers the dozen scopes and operators were swamped by the 10,000 people!! We were supposed to be there just until ten, but the last viewing was 1 AM.

and for me the quote of the night was "why don't they look in the canals for all the water?" Try explaining that to someone.

If any of you are in Melbourne were on every night this week, check Fraser's links.


2003-Aug-26, 04:21 AM
Here's the quick report I wrote for my own forum:

Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, is now at it's closest point to the Earth in 60,000 years. Or at least it will be on Wednesday, the 27th.

Given the fact that I work nights out in the middle of the country next to an airfield and given that it was a Sunday night and things should be quiet, I lugged my 6" reflector scope into work and hoped to take a closer look at that little world.

I had to wait for the local boy racers to finish their race but by about 1am they had all gone home to bed and half an hour later I went outside and set up the scope.

I can't remember the last time I saw Mars through a telescope - if at all. It must be at least twenty years, since I was a teenager and a member of the Luton Astronomical Society. The eyepieces I have for my scope aren't that powerful - I knew they would magnify the planet enough to show a disc but I wasn't expecting to see too much.

After mucking about for a few moments, trying to line the damn thing up, Mars finally slipped into view. And it was simply magnificent. I won't repeat my first words since they would be automatically censored but suffice it to say they were suitably in awe. I was seriously impressed.

Mars appeared bigger than I can remember Jupiter appearing through my scope. It had a distinct salmony pink colour... I seem to remember the south polar region being quite distinct... Mars appeared to be wearing a white cap. Likewise, there were the dark smudges of the Martian landscape, all quite noticeable. I hadn't expected to see this much detail.

I actually ran inside to get my supervisor, Steve, and Danny from the RAC desk... Steve, of course, made the obligatory "can't we look at Uranus instead" jokes but he was suitably impressed by the view when he peered through the eyepiece.

Obviously Mars had never looked so good and although we'll have a few more close encounters, it won't be this close again during our lifetime. I only wish I had a more powerful scope.

I was hoping to look at Saturn too but since that wouldn't be rising for another hour and the clouds were quickly rolling in, I showed Steve the Pleiades star cluster and the beautiful double star Albireo and then surrendered the night to the oncoming clouds.

With the scope still temporarily stored in the car and another 3 nights of shiftwork to go, hopefully the chance will come again to stare at the oddly pink planet.

2003-Aug-26, 08:47 AM
Looks like we made the Universe Today News! Ha! http://www.universetoday.com/ very cool Fraser Thank you for that!!!! It was REALLY COOL to finally meet you! You are most welcome to visit with us anytime out here in the Valley!!

I am finally having a chance here to sit down and relax, it's been what I call a FULL PULL WEEKEND! Saturday Night was a hoot and so was Sunday Night!

Throughout the entire night (Saturday) I estimate approximately 300 to 500 people attended, the new observing area at McDonald Park it was JAMMED.. at one point I had to climb a few rungs on the step ladder so that I could talk to all the people that were gathered around the Big Scope. *My Word!!*

At anyrate to save on a lot of typing, I'll basically re-tell what I've sent out to our members, for your fly on the wall reading pleasure.

Well Folks all I can say is "Well Done! Absolutely Outstanding!!!"

Last nights event was a Block Buster Success as far as I am concerned, at 2:00 a.m. in the morning after flopping into bed, I had that Cheshire Cat Grin across my face of complete satisfaction, that we DONE GOOD!

Accolades to all of you who participated and to those who wanted to be there and or those who were away on holiday or just dealing with life! You all should be proud of yourselves!!! I AM!!! WOW!

The incident that happened with the Slide show presentation was about the only thing that went a rye. The little Angel that tried to sweep by the projector couldn't see where she was going, and I didn't notice here in time. So when she put her hand on the projection table to support herself, over it went! Along with my Tim Hortons Coffee.. uh oh! Subsequently the coffee hit the ground first but didn't burst until the Table nailed it, and of course that got onto some of the slides.... The poor Father beside me according to my wife Hilda said you could see him shrink into the size of a walnut.... Poor Dad!!! He profusely apologized for the accident, and that's just what it was an accident, he also offered financial restitution of which I turned down. I assured him that it was ok, and not to worry himself about it, it wasn't the little one's fault she just couldn't see where she was going, and I'm just glad she was able to keep her balance and didn't get hurt by the table and projector. The sad part in all of this was, her brothers and sisters and herself were extremely excited about the pictures... that suddenly faded to "Black" rather abruptly! HA!

I guess I didn't help poor ole Dad's feelings, when I turned to the crowd and said "Ladies and Gentlemen that Concludes my Presentation for this evening!!" *Shrug!!* What are you going to do!!!?? The Little Girl was ok, Dad was assured that all was fine, and Thanks to my wonderful wonderful wife she was able to save almost all of the slides, by laying them out in the trunk of our car and laying toilet paper gently ontop to sop up the liquid. A chap by the name of Wallace, ran home, and returned 30 minutes later with holding tray's, to store the slides in, as the Slide Tray itself was also full of coffee.

So there I was saying all kinds of nice things about a fellow named Wallace, blasting home to get some things to save the slides, out of the goodness of his heart, dashing home and back again to help save our presentation. Little did I know he was standing next to me when I was giving out accolades about him. Until he shook my hand and introduced himself, I shook his hand in Thanks for helping us out, and told him he is welcome to come back and visit with us anytime!!! It was wonderful of him to do what he did and I am glad that he was near by to hear me say some very kind things about him.... it had to make him feel pretty darned good about himself, those kinds of words are always nice to hear about oneself!

All that aside, the rest of the night was AWESOME!! I estimated through out the night, with people coming and going, that the attendance was between 300 and 500 people, at one point the area we were in was so full of people, I had to climb the ladder that we use for the 20" to talk to the people around me, I felt I was being crushed! hahahaha

In Closing Folks, please except my humble Thanks!! You Are The One's that make this Club what it is!!!
In a word??? INCREDIBLE!

The Meadows Maze event tonight, will most likely be a bust but last night was also supposed to be bust but was a huge success. At anyrate they're pretty worried about the weather, I assured them that we or at least I will be there, with a slide show and we could if need be put the 20" telescope on display and just visit with those folks who come out. I could still use the help, and it's also your chance to show off if this reaches you in time, or in time to change your mind if you were thinking about not coming. haha (That's about as clear as mud Paul!) Ha! Anyway I plan on going out and doing the best I can for Arlene, she was soooooo excited about us coming that I haven't the heart to cancel. Here again the "Show Must Go On!" as they say!

Anyway Folks, Thanks Again for Last Nights Efforts....Whatta Hoot!!!!

UPDATE: The meadows maze event (huge corn maze) www.meadowsmaze.com was a great success as well, no where near what we had at McDonald Park but that is partly due to the fact the clouds obscured the night skies.. at anyrate a good many people still stuck it out and enjoyed a PROLONGED Slide Show...it's been years since I've had the chance to really talk indepth about the pictures that people were seeing. Allowing them to ask questions as we went along.... upon our arrival at Jupiter (a small picture taken with an 8" scope) I said this is a picture of Jupiter taken by my friend, *Click* next Slide and this is a picture taken through my telescope! (Voyager Image), where upon I encouraged the crowd to expound the words "YOU WISH!", after talking about Jupiter, Io's Volcanoes and Lighting strikes on the dark side of Jupiter, a small picture of Saturn was next, taken through a 4" telescope (my friends), next slide an image taken with an 8" telescope (my other friend), and NOW MY TELESCOPE, POOF another Voyager Image....where upon the entire Crowd Harped up!...'YOU WISH!!!" .... at anyrate it was alot of fun and interactive for the people... the organizor was speechless or so she told me, I said "That bad Huh?" Where upon she tagged me on the shoulder and said, "NO NOT AT ALL, If anything it was Spell Binding, Incomprehensible, and Awesome!!!! Can you come back next year?"

For a night that was a bust, observing wise, I think we impressed the crowd with the many telescopes we had setup, including the 20" telescope, thanks to Clive, Janeen, Phill and Brian... Next to come is Wednesday Night on the 27th...we're gonna do it alllllll over again..!!!!

Yeah buddy!!!!!!! :huh: :wacko:


Clear Skies!
Paul Greenhalgh (President)
Fraser Valley Astronomers Soc.
British Columbia Canada
Http://www.fvas.net (http://Http://www.fvas.net)


2003-Aug-26, 11:22 AM
Hi all,

Hope it is going 2b a great experience and a double happiness to all.

Below you will find sunset times, Mars rising times (when Mars
rises above the local horizon) and Mars transit times (when Mars
is directly overhead) for several cities in Asia and the Pacific.
The times are for the evening of August 27, 2003, and the early
morning of August 28, 2003. If your city is not listed, you can
use the city closest to your location. The best time to start
viewing Mars through a telescope is a couple of hours after Mars
rises above the horizon.

| Australia | Sun Set | Mars Rise | Mars Transit
| City, State | August |August 27)| (Overhead)
| | 27) | ......... | (August 28)
| Baku, Azerbaijan | 8:21 pm | 8:49 pm | 1:56 am
| Beijing, China | 7:54 pm | 8:23 pm | 1:31 am
| Canton (Guangzhou), | 7:49 pm | 8:09 pm | 1:43 am
| China
| Chengdu, China | 8:33 pm | 8:56 pm | 2:20 am
| Chiang Mai, Thailand| 7:43 pm | 8:01 pm | 1:40 am
| Chittagong, | 7:14 pm | 7:34 pm | 1:09 am
| Bangladesh
| Da Nang, Vietnam | 7:04 pm | 7:20 pm | 1:03 am
| Dacca, Bangladesh | 7:21 pm | 7:41 pm | 1:14 am
| Donetsk, Ukraine | 8:20 pm | 8:54 pm | 1:44 am
| Hiroshima, Japan | 6:44 pm | 7:09 pm | 12:27 am
| Ho Chi Minh City, | 7:06 pm | 7:20 pm | 1:09 am
| Vietnam
| Hong Kong | 7:45 pm | 8:05 pm | 1:39 am
| In Chon, South Korea| 8:10 pm | 8:38 pm | 1:50 am
| Irkutsk, Siberia | 9:03 pm| 9:41 pm | 2:19 am
| Kawasaki, Japan | 6:16 pm | 6:42 pm | 11:59 am
| Kazan, Russia | 8:52 pm | 9:33 pm | 1:59 am
| Kiev, Ukraine | 8:54 pm | 9:30 pm | 2:13 am
| Kobe, Japan | 6:33 pm | 6:59 pm | 12:16 am
| Kuala Lumpur, | 8:20 pm | 8:31 pm | 2:29 am
| Malaysia
| Kyoto, Japan | 6:31 pm | 6:57 pm | 12:13 am
| Manila, Philippines | 7:11 pm | 7:28 pm | 1:12 am
| Minsk, Belarus | 9:13 pm | 9:52 pm | 2:25 am
| Moscow, Russia | 8:37 pm | 9:19 pm | 1:45 am
| Nagasaki, Japan | 6:52 pm | 7:17 pm | 12:37 am
| Nee Soon, Singapore | 7:10 pm | 7:21 pm | 1:21 am
| Pusan, South Korea | 7:58 pm | 8:24 pm | 1:40 am
| Pyongyang, North | 8:16 pm | 8:44 pm | 1:53 am
| Korea
| Seoul , South Korea | 8:09 pm | 8:36 pm | 1:48 am
| Singapore, Singapor | 7:10 pm | 7:21 pm | 1:21 am
| Surabaya, Indonesia | 6:28 pm | 6:36 pm | 12:45 am
| St. Petersburg, | 9:18 pm | 10:06 pm | 2:14 am
| Russia
| Suva, Fiji | 6:58 pm | 7:01 pm | 1:23 am

It's going to be a rare sight, so remember - don't miss the
opportunity to view 2 moons in the sky -> 27 AUGUST 2003

Never again in your lifetime will the Red Planet be so spectacular!
This month and next month the Earth is catching up with Mars, an
encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the
two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this
close is in 2287.

Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its
orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this
close to Earth in the last 5,000 years but it may be as long as
60,000 years.

The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to
within 34,649,589 miles and will be (next to the moon) the
brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of
-2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide.

At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the
full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot. At the
beginning of August, Mars will rise in the east at 10pm and reach
its azimuth at about 3am. By the end of August when the two
planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its
highest point in the sky at 12.30am. That's pretty convenient
when it comes to seeing something that no human has seen in
recorded history. So mark your calendar at the beginning of August
to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout
the month.

Share with friends, children and grandchildren and with everyone
you know, as no one alive today will ever see this spectacle again.

rafel serra
2003-Aug-27, 09:15 AM
I'm kind of a newcomer to astronomy, I've been into it for thre years now. I own a C-9.25 since last year, and I'm still struggling to locate some of the fuzzy Messier objects in the sky. I live in a Mediterranean island, Eivissa, SE of Spain peninsula. I work as a teacher in a high school in my local town, and I usually get to one of my 17 yo pupils house in the mountains, beautiful rural area, far from city lights. She is pretty good at dealing with technical tips and, furthermost, at enjoying the wonder of observation.

Last night, August 26th, we were, of course, spotting Mars. Boiling image, a little blurry, from time to time standing still for a little while. Three colours in the eypiece: the white polar cap, the orange surface and the dark reddish features.

All of a sudden, she smiles. "Now I understand all the pictures I've seen from Hubble, and all the things I've heard and red... Mars is a real place, and there it is!"


2003-Aug-27, 06:15 PM
News Flash from Mosquito Flats Mars Party. Clouds. Need I say more? :(


2003-Aug-27, 07:16 PM
Crud. :-( Try again tonight.

2003-Aug-27, 10:03 PM
So far today the skies above the world renowned "mosquito flats mars observatory" :P remain clear. Plan "B" includes more hotdogs just in case it clouds up again.

All are welcome.


2003-Aug-28, 01:36 AM
LOL Wendell

We've had bad, cloudy weather here in the UK for the past 3 or 4 nights too, which sucks. We had a good run throughout August of good weather and clear skies but now it's taken a turn for the worse. I'm glad I got a quick squint at Mars when I did - hopefully the skies will clear over the next few nights.

If not, I'm flying out to Oklahoma on Friday so I'm hoping the skies will be nice anc clear there :)


2003-Aug-28, 11:22 AM
Well I couldn&#39;t really get a telescope in time. I asked one of the science teachers at my school on the 26th if they knew of a place where I can borrow a telescope...He said that he doesn&#39;t know of any but the school has a telescope&#33; And I&#39;m like thinking, omg&#33; I&#39;ve been here for 3 years and never knew that ;) I was thinking of asking a teacher if the school did have a telescope like a month ago, but it slipped my mind <_< The bad thing was that one of the other teachers had the telescope. So he said to see him again some other days....:&#092; That teacher still hasn&#39;t returned it.
So I resorted to my flashy looking binoculars, but not so powerful binoculars:&#092; 10x21mm. I guess they&#39;re good for my first try. Good for the constellations (even though I can hardly find some of them:p lol) I could see Mars brighter with them than the naked eye could though&#33; Even took some pictures of the planet to keep :)

2003-Aug-28, 12:29 PM
Cloudy Cloudy Cloudy. Argh. Tomorrow night maybe&#33;

2003-Aug-28, 06:49 PM

Date Line: 27 August 2003

We arrived at the Flats at approximately 1930. Upon setting up the scope I discovered that the sighting scope was missing. Investigation revealled that my eight year old son had removed it as he wanted to scope his BB gun. Further investigation revealed that he used Duct Tape to mount the sighting scope from my telescope on to his BB gun (my ex wife, who was present, assures me that the lad is in fact my son). After a fatherly lecture to the boy we finaly were able to remove the duct tape and the scope from the BB gun and returned the sighting scope to the telescope, and succesfully sight the telescope.

The evening sky darkened to a hazy brown due to the range and forest fires 130 miles to the West in Bend, Ore. Mars was first spotted as a fuzzy peach colored blob at approx 125 degrees by my 9 year old niece who wanted to know why there was a fuzzy peach blob in the sky. I explained to her that due to the forest fires, Mars would appear that way unil it rose a little higher in the sky. I was wrong. By 2400, Mars had become so obsured by the smoke that we had to cancell again. We did, however, fire up the portable BBQ and burn some dogs and marshmallows.

Oh, and if you ae wondering if my son survived, the answer is yes. I have to admit that I&#39;m quite proud of him - he showed recoursefulness, even used camo duct tape. though I do wonder how he was able to use a scope whos sight picture is upside down.

Semper Fi,


2003-Aug-29, 01:30 AM
Cloudy in Winnipeg, MB. Will appear to be the same through to the end of the month too :angry:

Polly V
2003-Aug-29, 04:13 PM
Not much viewing here in the San Francisco Bay. A group of us went up to the Chabot Space and Scienc Center to look throught the 36 ", but the fog followed us up the hill and its been like that ever since. :( Although several nights last week, I did catch of glimpse of Mars with my telescope.

I&#39;m still hoping that the sky will clear sometime this weekend. Rest assured I will go running back up the hill to Chabot for a look. :lol:

2003-Aug-29, 05:12 PM
In Yucca Valley California (the high desert and one of the darkest places in the United States), we had the heaviest rain anyone here can remember. We had all of the telescopes set up when the cloud cover came rushing in. Just a few minutes later a torrential rainstorm with very high winds hit. We had to get all of the telescopes down and under cover.

I decided to drive home but the highway got washed out, so we were stuck for five hours. During that time the sky cleared in one area and we could see Mars. I pointed it out to all the other people stuck there. I got out my telescope and we had a star party right in the middle of the highway. It turned out to be a really great night, and my most interesting star party to date.


2003-Aug-31, 12:40 AM
The Bays Mt. Amateur Astronomers in Kingsport, Tennessee, and the Bristol Astronomy Club in Bristol, Tn, have combined to show about 2,000 people Mars on Tues, Wed, Thurs, and Friday nights. Some people waited in line for a half hour, and we had two locations, each with around eight telescopes.
The great thing is that people are very appreciative of our volunteer efforts, and are thrilled to see the Red Planet.

2003-Oct-28, 02:10 AM
Canberra, Australia, still enjoying it, have been unable to get near a telescope or binoculars, but even with the eye, mars stands out, Last night, scorpio was hanging above the cresent moon venus below both of them, just after sunset mars high in the sky, Can anyone explain right ascension and declination, I navigate from the few constellations that I know.