Observing and Sketching Mars

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  • Green Bank Star Quest 13

    Presented byMichael Rosolina

  • To improve your observing skills

    To create a visual record

    To exercise your creativity

  • Huygens






    These are just a few of the many past astronomers who were keen observersand who sketched their observations of Mars:

  • Huygens

    A pioneer in the mid-17th centurywas Christiaan Huygens , who made theseobservations of Mars

    Source: The Exploration of MarsBy Werner von Braun & Chesley Bonestell

  • Schiaparellis 1877 Map

    Source: cseligman.com

  • Antoniadi

    By the 19th and early 20th

    century, improved telescopes were allowing skilled observers to make even more detailed sketches of celestial objects.

    Source: The Planet Mars by William Sheehan

  • What to look for when observing Mars

    Classic albedo features

    Polar caps and hoods

    Orographic clouds

    Limb arcs and morning and evening clouds and hazes

    Blue clouds


  • The Use of Filters

    Red filters improve contrast and reveal dust

    Green filters show ground fog and ice

    Blue filters show atmospheric clouds

    Neutral density/variable polarizing filters improve contrast

    See Sky & Telescope July 2016 issue for more filter info

  • The Areocentric Viewpoint

    Central Meridian (CM): the Martian longitude crossing the center of the disk at any given time

    Longitude of the Sun (Ls): Identifies the seasonsLs 0 degrees is the vernal equinox in the north and Ls 180 degrees is the northern autumnal equinox

    Declination of Earth (De): Indicates how high in the Martian sky the Earth is north (positive) or south (negative) of the equator

  • Telescopic Observations

    o Any scope will work but more aperture will usually yield better resolution

    o Use as high a magnification as the seeing will support

    o Importance of good seeing

    o Importance of training the eye to see detail

  • What makes a good astro sketch?

    Record what you seenot what you would like to see

    Include information such as instrument used, magnification, and field of view (FOV)

    Include time and date (UT), cardinal directions, seeing, transparency, altitude of object, and any other relevant information

    Add any other notes you feel are pertinent to your observation

  • The Red Planet

  • Mars

    19 Dec. 20070430-0500 UT10 Reflector Mag: 360xS: Antoniadi II

    Courtesy ofThomas Mccague

  • Graphite pencil andcolor pencil on whitesketch paper

  • Mars fromProvence,


    Courtesy ofMichel Deconinck

  • Courtesy of Michel Deconinck

  • Mars2 May 2016 3h UT

    Courtesy ofMichel Deconinck

  • Courtesy of Thomas Mccague

  • Courtesy ofThomas Mccague

  • What do I use to make my sketch?

  • Basic Tools for Sketching

    drawing pencils, pens, color pencils, Conte crayon, charcoal, pastels, chalk

    sketching paper, copy paper, black paper, color paper, textured paper, waterproof paper

    templates, blending stumps, erasers, eraser shield, sharpener

    clipboard, red light, white light, table, chair

  • Computer processing is a relatively new tool that can be used very effectively to enhance and even create astro sketches.

    Digitizing your work allows you to present and share it with the global

    community of amateur astronomers.

  • Google these Resources

    Mars Previewer II

    S&Ts Mars Profiler (free login required)

    Jeff Beishs Mars Observers Caf (ALPO Mars Section

    Communications in Mars Observations (CMO)

  • Observing logM Rosolina

    Remember, everyone starts somewhere

  • Weve looked at some of the long, rich history of astro sketching.

    Weve seen some prime examples of sketching at its best.

    Weve discussed sketching tools and techniques.

    And weve learned that sketching not only leaves you with a visual record of your observation

    But most importantly, it trains your eye and improves your observing skills.

    Now its time for a little hands-on practice.

  • We will use the following sketch to practice your sketching technique

  • Courtesy ofThomas Mccague

  • Copyright 2016 Michael Rosolina

    All contributor images are theproperty of their respective ownersand are used here with permission