2001 Mars Observation Reports -- #11--


Mars Observations
in the Second Half of June 2001
from 16 June 2001 (179Ls) to 30 June 2001 (187Ls)
based on the article published in CMO #247 (10 July 2001)

by Masatsugu MINAMI, Director of the OAA Mars Section


HE planet Mars was closest to the Earth during this period on 21 June (182Ls). The angular diameter was 20.7" on 16 June (179Ls), while it remained maximal at 20.8 arcsecs for about one week, and went down to 20.6" on 30 June (187Ls). The phase angle again increased to 15 at the end of June. The altitude of the planet was quite low seen from the Japanese mainland: The apparent declination was -26 51' on 30 June. Furthermore we were suffering from the rainy days, while the Okinawa district became free from the rainy season just on 21 June, and the CMO members in Okinawa enjoyed the clear skies to chase the dust cloud event that started fortunately from 24 June.

  WE acknowledge receipt of the observations this period as follows:

AKUTSU, Tomio (Ak) Tochigi / Okinawa, Japan

16 Sets of CCD Images (16, 27, 28, 29, 30# June 2001)

f/70 32cm spec equipped with a Teleris 2

40cm spec with a Nikon COOL PIX 990, f/? 40cm spec equipped with a Teleris 2#


ASADA, Tadashi (As) Munakata, Fukuoka, Japan

1 Set of CCD Images (16 June 2001) 30cm speculum equipped with a Lynxx PC



2 Drawings (27, 29 June 2001) 210, 270, 360x 18cm refractor$,


BATES, Donald R (DBt) Mt Locke/Houston, TX, USA

2 Colour Images (22, 29 June 2001) f/120 25cm speculum, Elite Chrome 200


BIVER, Nicolas (NBv) Versailles, France

1 Colour Drawing (30 June 2001) 330x 26cm speculum


CAVE, Thomas R (TCv) Long Beach, CA, USA

1 Drawing (26 June 2001) 390, 550x 33cm speculum


CIDADO, Antnio Jos (ACd) Oeiras, Portugal

5 Sets of CCD Images (16, 17, 28 June 2001) 25cm LX200SCT with an ST-5C + AO


FALSARELLA, Nlson (NFl) Sao Jose do Rio Preto - SP, Brasil

7 CCD Images (16, 23, 25, 28 June 2001) 20cm speculum + AVA ASTROVID 400


GRAFTON, Edward A (EGf) Houston, TX, USA

1 Set of CCD Images (20 June 2001) f/60 35cm Celestron SC with an ST6


HEATH, Alan W (AHt) Nottingham, UK

6 Drawings (18, 20, 22, 24, 27, 30 June 2001) 200x 20cm SCT


HIGA, Yasunobu (Hg) Naha, Okinawa, Japan

78 Video Images (16, 17, 19, 21~25, 27~30 June 2001)

25cm f/6.7 speculum equipped with a Sony VX-1000


HIKI, Toshiaki (Hk) Minowa, Nagano, Japan

5 Drawings (17, 24, 29 June 2001) 430x 22cm speculum


ISHADOH, Hiroshi (Id) Naha, Okinawa, Japan

38 Drawings (16, 18, 21, 24~27, 29, 30 June 2001) 400, 530x 31cm speculum


ISHIBASHI, Tsutomu (Is) Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan

6 Video Images (26, 27, 28 June 2001) 31cm f/6.4 speculum


KUMAMORI, Teruaki (Km) Sakai, Osaka, Japan

6 CCD Colour Images (17, 24, 26, 27 June 2001)

20cm Dall Kirkham with a Sony PC-5/60cm Cassegarain with a Sony TRV-900


MELILLO, Frank J (FMl) Holtsville, NY, USA

3 Sets of CCD Images (18, 20, 26 June 2001) 20cm SCT with a Starlight Xpress MX5


MINAMI, Masatsugu (Mn) Fukui, Japan

41 Drawings (16, 17, 22, 24 June 2001) 400x 20cm refractor*


MORITA, Yukio (Mo) Hatsuka-ichi, Hiroshima, Japan

19 Sets of CCD Images (16, 17, 26, 27 June 2001) f/50 25cm speculum equipped with an ST-5C


MURAKAMI, Masami (Mk) Fujisawa, Kanagawa, Japan

7 Drawings (24, 26, 27, 28 June 2001) 320, 400x 20cm speculum


NAKAJIMA, Takashi (Nj) Fukui, Japan

3 Drawings (16 June 2001) 400x 20cm refractor*


NARITA, Hiroshi (Nr) Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan

10 Drawings (23, 24, 26, 28 June 2001) 400x 20cm refractor


PARKER, Donald C (DPk) Miami, FL, USA

6 Sets of CCD Images (17, 18, 24, 30 June 2001)

f/44 41cm Meade SCT equipped with a Lynxx PC


PARKER, Timothy J (TPk) CA, USA

3 Sets of CCD Images (17, 30 June 2001) 15cm Jagers Achromat with a 3 CCD Cam


SCHMUDE, Richard W, Jr (RSc) GA, USA

3 Drawings (26 May; 5, 21 June 2001)

290x 51cm spec/ 210x 20cm Klevtsov Cass/ 240x 10cm refractor


TAN, Wei-Leong (WTn) Singapore

6 Sets of CCD Images (21, 28 June 2001) f/16x 28cm SCT equipped with an ST-7E


TEICHERT, Grard (GTc) Hattstatt, France

8 Drawings (18, 20~26 June2001) 330, 310x 28cm Schmidt-Cassegrain


TSUNEMACHI, Hitomi (Ts) Fukui, Japan

9 Drawings (16 June 2001) 400x 20cm refractor*


VALIMBERTI, Maurice (MVl) Viewbank, Victoria, Australia

6 CCD Colour Images (26 June 2001) f/80 15cm refractor with a TC245 based camera


WAKUGAWA, Tetsuo (Wk) Naha, Okinawa, Japan

1 CCD Colour Image (25 June 2001) 40cm speculum


$ Richmond Astronomical Society Ragland Observatory

Sakai City Observatory

* Fukui City Observatory


  1. Rainy Season Ended at Okinawa:

  The rainy season started on 6 June at the Tokyo district, and on 10 June at the Hokuriku district including Noto and Fukui, and so we had no more than a lull if the rain stopped. On the other hand at the southern Okinawa islands the rainy season started much earlier (on 6 May this year) and ended just on 21 June. After then the sky remained clear. Thus the CMO-Okinawa observers enjoyed the view of the dust cloud from its very onset, and they brought precious results.


  2. Before the Advent of the Dust Cloud:

  On 16 June (179Ls) many had a final occasion to observe the normal surface under rather good seeing condition. TSUNEMACHI (
Ts) went to Fukui to observe the region of S Sabus under the apparent diameter 20.7" by the use of the 20 cm refractor, and on 16 June watched nine times from ω=327W to ω=045W every forty minutes. Ts noticed visually that the area between the fringe of the spc and the dark band from M Serpentis to M Erythrum looked faded at ω=356W and so on. This was clearly shown on AKUTSU (Ak)'s images at ω=011W as well as on ASADA (As)'s at ω=357W. ISHADOH (Id) also observed on 16 June at ω=356W and felt that the evening limb looked extraordinarily misted. Id also observed on 18 June (181Ls) that the north-western corner of M Acidalium was occupied by a roundish white cloud patch.


  3. Overseas Observations around 20 June:

  On 17 June (180Ls) Tim PARKER (TPk) took good images at
ω=240W, 272W, and on 18 June (180Ls) Don PARKER (DPk) produced impressive images at ω=215W, 219W, and 223W, and finally on 20 June (181Ls), GRAFTON (EGf) gave an superb set of images at ω=209W. They all show that the area of the mouth of Hesperia and M Tyrrhenum was quite normal. In Portugal, CIDADO (ACd) produced images at ω=163W, 189W, 193W on 16 June (179Ls) and at ω=140W, 150W on 17 June (180Ls).


  4. Start of the Dust Storm:

  On 24 June (184Ls), the present writer (
Mn) began to observe at Fukui from 11:10 GMT (at ω=246W): The image was good, but the transparency was poor and then it became cloudy and so we just observed until 14:30 GMT (at ω=295W): From the start, the mouth of Hesperia looked extraordinarily larger and at ω=256W, it became clear that an area just to the south of Syrtis Minor was quite faded at M Tyrrhenum and a faint streak went southward from it. The same at ω=266W, while at ω=276W the faint streak proved to wind to Hellas (it was possible to use 600x). This M-shaped configuration was quite similar to those observed later on 26 and 27 June, but at that time the present writer (Mn) did not take the weak phenomenon seriously because such a local dusty phenomenon was not rare near Hellas from May, and just considered it a slight change at the sandy area as those seen frequently near S Margaritifer.

  On the day HIGA (Hg) at Naha videotaped the surfaces from ω=261W to ω=329W , and KUMAMORI (Km) at Sakai obtained a still image from his Video at ω=275W . The faint streak is shown well on the images. ISHADOH (Id) at Naha also noticed at 16:10 GMT (at ω=319W), the area of the mouth of Hesperia or the south of Syrtis Mn was extraordinarily bright near the evening limb (the LMT of Syrtis Mn was 15:30) perhaps because of the atmospheric disturbance. Id observed until ω=339W (17:30 GMT) on the day.

  On 25 June (184Ls), the phenomenon being slightly bothering, the present writer stayed at the Observatory, but the sky remained cloudy/rainy. However it was fine at Okinawa since the rainy season ended, and Hg took the Video from ω=247W to ω=325W, and we heard later that Hg was convinced of the existence of the dust disturbance on the monitor on the day: The CMO-Web shows his image at ω=278W in comparison with the one by Km the day before. At ω=279W, 289W and 301W, Id also noticed an M-shaped swirling of the dust streak to Hellas. The dust cloud was not still conspicuous, and at this moment it was never certain whether it could develop further, but the disturbance was in a new stage and was apparent to every observer. The image taken at the Marshall islands on the day by Kent De GROFF (by the use of a 25cm spec with a digital Nikon 950) shows the cloud at ω=254W (forwarded kindly to us from Don PARKER to whom we are thankful).

  The aroused cloud was quiet at first (in contrast to the start of the major dust storms often seen much later at 250Ls~300Ls), and so it is interesting to see how the area was before 24 June: As noted by Id on 21 June (182Ls) at ω=312W and 322W, the evening limb side was quite hazed as was the case on 18 June (181Ls) at ω=353W, and so already the area must have been full of the airborne dust. Hg videotaped, in addition to 16, 17, 18 June, on 21 June (182Ls) from ω=309W to ω=010W, on 22 June (183Ls) from ω=303W to 342W, and on 23 June (183Ls) from ω=294W to ω=309W from which we can judge the aspect of the area from Hesperia to M Tyrrhenum. We can see a faint streak that divides M Tyrrhenum, but it is not certain whether there is a swirling to Hellas, and at least there does not seem to have occurred such a change observed from 24 June to 25 June, and so we can consider the observed germ on 24 June is representative.

  The dust disturbance was thus quiet at first without any drastic burst, but it showed further slow development day by day. On 26 June (185Ls), the M-shaped dust distribution was more apparent: Maurice VARIMUBERTI (MVl) in Australia produced an excellent series of images, by the use of a 15cm refractor, from 10:17 GMT (at ω=216W), and at ω=277W~ ω=289W (at 15:19 GMT) the cloud configuration was seen near the CM. In Japan, MURAKAMI (Mk) visually noticed the extraordinary aspect of the mouth at Hesperia at ω=251W, and Id made drawings of the dust cloud configuration at ω=263W, 272W, 282W and chased until ω=304W. Km also produced an image at ω=277W (at the same time as MVl) by the use of a 20 cm home-made Dall-Kirkham. In particular, MORITA (Mo) at Hiroshima energetically took RGB and IR ccd images from ω=236W to ω=285W, every 20 minutes or 40 minutes. This set is very precious and must be much helpful when we will analyse the cloud movement in future. ISHIBASHI (Is) also obtained a Video image at around ω=250W.

 Km's Image on 27 June
  The configuration of the dust cloud on 27 June (185Ls) remained basically the
same, but became more obvious and the junction of the Hesperia and the Hellas side became brighter. On the day Km used a 60cm Cass at the Sakai City Observatory to make an image at ω=248W to show well the cloud distribution, and AKUTSU(Ak) at Tochigi obtained a set of excellent images at ω=257W. Mo also produced a good set of RGB and IR images at ω=264W. Furthermore Hg at Naha covered the surfaces by Video from ω=236W to ω=315W, and Is videotaped earlier at ω=210W~, and thus we have a good document of images. Visually Id observed under good seeing at ω=249W, 276W, 285W, 295W, and Mk also watched the cloud at ω=242W and 252W. Id pointed out that in addition to the cloud configuration, the southern hemisphere was totally hazed by the airborne dust, and so it must have been at a serious stage.
Id's first and the second drawing the present writer (Mn) phoned him up and had a conversation with him at his eyepiece (by a wireless phone) to confirm the situation based on the images by Km and Mo on 26 June. The present writer (Mn) was convinced of the possibility of the further expansion of the dust storm, and hence he began to write emails in rapid succession after the conversation with Id. At 1:54 JST he sent the first notice to several based on the smaller sized mailing list he had, and this was forwarded by Mk (cmo@mars.dti.ne.jp) according to the larger mailing list at 2:17 JST. In response to this, Ak and Km sent their images to us. So Mn sent out the second and third email-communications at 4:23 JST and at 4:59 JST respectively (these were finally forwarded world-widely by David KLASSEN as an International Marswatch Newsletter (alert) on 28 June at 22:48 JST). Hitherto however any Hesperia dust cloud did scarcely show any vast expansion and used to subside within a week, and so Mn wrote an email at 5:27 JST to Don PARKER who has wide experience concerning the dust clouds. We attached ccd images made by Km and Mo (Don's response is included in this LtE corner). The second report was again forwarded by Mk at 5:55 JST. At 13:14 JST, Mn also sent the images by Km and Mo to Richard McKIM who already responded to the first report.

  There occurred then larger activities on 28 June (186Ls): Near midnight (15h GMT), Mn received a telephone call from Hg at Naha and was informed that a very bright and sharp dust spot was seen just to the preceding side of Syrtis Mj, at the corner where Moeris L was once present. Hg assured us that it was brighter than the polar cap while looked quite dim through the B channel so that it must have been a burst of dust. This was reported widely by email communications (at 1:19 JST). Hg took the Mars images by Video from ω=216W to 291W. Mk noticed this dust spot at ω=243W and Is took around from ω=195W. AKUTSU (Ak) who moved to Okinawa on 28 June failed to associate his cooled camera to a 40 cm Newtonian chez WAKUGAWA (Wk), but by the use of Nikon 990, he secured the important images at ω=205W, 213W, 232W, 239W, 259W, and 271W. These images show the bright disturbance appeared early in the morning at ω=232W, implying the LMT to be about 7:30 LTM. As Hg noticed, the day a thick mist made of water vapour mixed with the dust prevailed at the morning side, and this must be a serious hint to the new development of the dust disturbance. This bright spot was also caught by TAN (WTn) at Singapore when it approached the CM at ω=274W~285W (16:14 GMT). His images show that the bright spot looked to be connected with the bright dust area at Hesperia.

  On 29 June (187Ls), the dust cloud showed a vast expansion. GROFF as cited obtained a Nikon 950 image at ω=200W, and then Ak at Okinawa took Nikon 990 images by 40 cm speculum at ω=208W, 215W, 240W, 251W, and 281W. HIKI (Hk) visually caught how the cloud expansion was about to divide M Cimmerium at ω=226W and 236W and as well Id at Naha observed visually at ω=241W, 256W, 265W. In addition to the east-northern expansion of the Hesperia cloud patch, the cloud at Libya also began to expand to the east. Hg took the Video images from ω=230W to 260W. Id's drawings show all the markings on the southern hemisphere suffered heavily because of the dust disturbance already but the markings located deep on the northern hemisphere were still free.


 Ak's Image on 30 June
  On 30 June (187Ls), it turned out that such dark markings as M Cimmerium were quite deformed. Ak was able to use his favourite Teleris 2 on the day and produced excellent images at ω=191W, 200W, 210W; the last being one of the best shots. These well show not only the deformed markings but nicely describe how the morning water-vapour mist covers mixed with the airborne dust. Id, apart from Ak by about 5 km, also observed at ω=227W, 237W, 247W, 256W, 266W, and 283W, and Hg, still further away by 4km, took the images from ω=205W to 278W. The dark markings were thus completely broken, and it began to prove that this event should not be regarded as short-lived. As the month of July set in, it was to develop into a major yellow cloud event.

  We thus reviewed how we observed the outset of the yellow cloud at the end of June, but we refrained from any detailed description of the cloud movement and expansion. We also left out the possible relationship with a rapid thawing of the south polar cap as well as the rise and fall of the north polar hood. These problems are also interesting and we may analyse soon. As to the westward expansion of the cloud, we must wait the information from the European side though it was possible the expansion was dull because the easterly must have been weak because the season was young. On 28 June to 30 June, the area of S Sabus looked slightly affected but probably it must have soon recovered.


  5. Martian Surfaces Observed Abroad at the End of June:

  On 27 and 29 June (186Ls), BARNETT (
JBn) at Virginia observed at ω=080W and 110W respectively (around Solis L). On 28 June (186Ls), CIDADO (ACd) in Portugal took images at ω=053W (around M Acidalium). On 30 June (187Ls) DPk at Florida and TPk at California produced images at ω=098W (around Solis L) and ω=124W (around M Sirenum) respectively. BIVER (NBv) in France observed on 30 June at ω=346W (around S Sabus). The HST gave an image on 26 June featuring Edom.


he next issue shall review the observations during a fortnight period from 1 July (188Ls) to 15 July 2001 (187Ls). We hope every CCD image is emailed in a jpg file with a file name beginning with the observer's name to vzv03210@nifty.com as well as to cmo@mars.dti.ne.jp. Drawings are preferred to be sent in an A4 sized format with just one drawing on one sheet.

Reports will be acknowledged if air-mailed to M MINAMI at Mikuni
(ask the mail-address through
vzv03210@nifty.com ) .

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