A. The Planet Mars Is Now Approaching

Mars will be soon closest to the Earth on 27 January 2010 at 19h GMT, and it will be at opposition on 29 January at 19.5h GMT. This is an aphelic apparition and the maximal diameter will be no larger than 14.1 seconds of arc.

(1 January 2010)  
  B. Mars Is Going Away

The planet was already at eastern quadrature on 4 May 2010, and now in the evening sky. The apparent diameter is 5.0" on 11 July 2010 with the Martian season λ=117°Ls. At the beginning of August the altitude of Mars will be just 30° above the horizon at sunset with λ=126°Ls.

(12 June 2010) 
  C. Establishment of the International Society of the Mars Observers (ISMO)

In August 2010 the International Society of the Mars Observers was established (Advisory Board: Donald PARKER (USA), Christophe PELLIER (France), William SHEEHAN (USA) and two of the Japanese OAA Members (Tadashi ASADA and Masatsugu MINAMI)). Any Mars observers (including the so-called armchair observers) can world-widely join the ISMO free of charge. Every month our bulletin CMO shall be published in a PDF edition with several pieces of up-to-date information concerning the international observations of the planet Mars.

(August 2010)

  D. Reformation of the staff of the OAA Mars Section

Masatsugu MINAMI vacated the chair of Director of the OAA Mars Section to Masami MURAKAMI. The new secretariat is kept by Takashi NAKAJIMA and Akinori NISHITA. Tadashi ASADA (one of the former secretaries) and Masatsugu MINAMI devote themselves to the management of the new ISMO (International Society of the Mars Observers).

(September 2010)

  E. Animation of Mars in 2010 by Martin LEWIS

This rotating globe is solely formed from seven images of the planet taken between 17th January and 5th March 2010 using a home-built 222mm Dobsonian reflector and a DMK21AF04AS mono camera with RG and B filters. This was done from the back garden of Martin LEWIS's home in St.Albans, UK with the Dobsonian being mounted on a home-built equatorial platform to enable tracking of the planet during imaging.

Though the moving image on the rhs is ill mapped and looks clumsy, but the original is much clearer: So please see an original version at the website of Martin LEWIS which shows full details of how it was created;

  F. Death of Professor Audouin DOLLFUS

We are saddened to hear about the passing away of Professor Audouin DOLLFUS on 1 October, Paris time, aged 85. We sincerely hope he may rest in peace.

(4 October 2010)

"The French astronomer and aeronaut Audouin Dollfus passed away October 1, 2010 in Versailles, France, at the age of 85. Born November 12, 1924 in Paris and son of an aeronaut, he built his first refracting telescope at the age of 14. Graduated in Mathematical Sciences and Physics, he started his career at the Observatory of Paris-Meudon as a student of astronomer Bernard Lyot. At a time when astronomy was focusing on deep sky, Audouin Dollfus turned to the study of the Solar System, and became a worldwide expert on the subject. He created the Laboratory of Solar System Physics at Meudon, studying all planets, with special interest in Mars, Venus, Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter. He also contributed to the study of the Sun by creating a coronograph that was used by many spacecraft missions. Audouin Dollfus led astronomical campaigns both at the Observatory of Meudon and the Pic-du-Midi Observatory. He discovered Janus, 10th satellite of Saturn in 1966, and astéroïd 2451 bears his name. The breadth and reach of his research and his numerous (330) scientific publications allowed him to contribute to many international committees.

His analysis of the Lunar dust using polarimetry allowed him to deduce the basaltic nature of the Lunar soil (1955). As a result, NASA invited him to collaborate to the study of the Apollo 11 landing site and to provide expertise for the design of the astronauts Moonboots. He contributed to the analysis of the Lunar samples returned by the Apollo program and to the studies of the Martian soil in preparation to the Viking mission, which landed in 1976 on Mars. In addition to Apollo, he collaborated with NASA on the Ranger and the Venus Mariner programs, and to the Soviet Mars-5 mission in 1973.

Expert in planetary mapping, he created the International Center for Planetary Photography at Meudon, from which stemmed many maps and nomenclatures, domains that were highly innovating to the time.

Audouin Dollfus was above all a pioneer of space exploration through his practice of astronomy using balloons. Bringing together his two passions of astronomy and balloons, he designed prototypes that allowed him to take a telescope up to 6,000 m (19,700 ft) in the air in a simple nacelle. His most spectacular and famous flight remains that of April 24, 1959, when taking off from Villacoublay near Paris, he reached 14,000 m (45,920 ft), which remains the French record today. That day, he took to the air alone, in an air-tight capsule suspended to 102 balloons, and opened the path to the study of astronomy from space. The data he collected during that flight allowed him to infer the existence of water on Mars.

Talented mongolfiere and balloon pilot, he held several world records for flight duration, distance, and altitude in free ballooning. Historian of sciences, historian in aeronautics, and member of the Aero-Club de France, he was still working prior to his passing at the creation of a City of Balloons and Dirigibles in the Y hangar at Meudon.

Audouin Dollfus was also dedicated to passing on his passion for astronomy and never refused an opportunity to share his enthusiasm through lectures, debates, and talks to astronomy and areo clubs. He mentored students in astronomy and planetary sciences. Many of them are today directly involved in planetary and space exploration.

He was Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, and the recipient of many awards, including the Grand Prize of the Academy of Sciences, the Galabert of Astronautics. He was the Lauréat of the French Astronomical Society.

He was also a writer, author of "50 years of astronomy" (EdP, Editors), "A Century of Astronomy by the French Astronomical Society", The Grande Lunette of Meudon (CNRS, Ed.), and "The Other Worlds, Views of an Astronomer" (Ed. Belin). Funerals will be held in Versailles October 8, 2010. Audouin Dollfus will be buried in Lyons."

(information from Nicolas BIVER on 6 October 2010)

Turn to the Façade  /   Turn to the CMO Home Page