LtE in CMO #261

From   Alan W HEATH

© . . . . . . . .  .A happy Summer Solstice to you all.


   Thank you for continuing to send the MARS Bulletin which is always a joy to read.


Like so many other astronomers, I did see the five planets in early May and enclose notes.


Everyone seems excited about the football. I don't see what all the fuss is about. Mars is far more exciting!


I understand that Tom Dobbins in Ohio is planning a get together of various astronomers and that there is a possibility that you may make it too. I don't know yet if I can make it in August 2003 but I will try. It would be good to shake the hand of many friends with whom I have corresponded. We shall see what transpires.


With every good wish.

        (21 June 2002)




 In the first week of May all five major planets were close together in the West. Positions for 2002 May 6 as follows-

                    R.A.         Dec       Mag    Phase

Mercury   4h14.4m   +23.52    +0.6    0.32

Venus     4h43.4m   +23.16    -3.8     0.88

Mars       4h54.7m   +23.27    +1.6     0.97

Saturn     4h51.7m   +21.10    +0.1      -

Jupiter     6h51.1m   +23.08    -2.0      -


2002 May 1d 20:20 UT

  All five planets seen with 8×30 Binoculars and also naked eye this evening. Mercury looked pinkish.


2002 May 4d 20:20 UT

  Despite well broken cloud, all five planets were seen with Mercury again looking pinking. I took the opportunity to look at all five with the Celestar-8 at X200 although seeing was very poor- S4

 Mercury  -  No detail other than the phase which  looked just under half. Diam. 8.3 arc secs

 Venus    -  No detail other than phase which was about 90.

 Mars     -  With the disc only 3.9 arc seconds, the  disc was seen but no other detail.

 Saturn    -  The SEB was seen and Cassini division but little else.

 Jupiter    -  Being higher this was the best image of  all and the STB, SEB, NEB and NTB were well seen

 NOTE:  Despite being the lowest of the planets, Mercury seemed surprisingly bright even in the bright sky. It was about equal to Saturn and was brighter than Mars.

 PHOTOGRAPHS:  I used a 28mm lens at f/2.8 and Fuji 200 Colour negative film with 1 second exposure for May 1 and Fuji 200 slide film for May 4. Due to the conditions, it is not expected that the photographs will show very much.


2002 May 6d 20:30 UT

  All five planets seen again though transparency poor. A cloudy day clearing as it became dark. Photographs taken again using 28mm lens as before with Fuji 200 colour negative film. Photographs were not successful.


 Alan HEATH (Long Eaton, Nottingham, UK)

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