LtE in CMO #272

From Jeffrey D BEISH

. . . . . . . From: "Dusty"

To: "Masami MURAKAMI"

Sent: Friday, April 25, 2003 9:51 PM

Subject: Re: CMO #270 updated


Masami-San, Thanks for the OAA CMO and e-mail notice. I am replying with my first observation for 2003. I have been remiss in getting up to observe Mars, but hope to begin soon. Also, the clouds over this area have also helped me be lazy )

Attached are two files, one text and the other a JPG file of my observational form. My 12.5" and 16" telescopes are in operation and I will begin a steady schedule of observing Mars soon. I also attached an image of my 12.5-inch f/7 and 16-inch f/6.9 Newtonian telescopes that are setup in our new lot next door to our house. A platform and privacy fence is in the planning stages. We also have a large garden nearby the telescopes. If the telescope are not used much for observing maybe they will keep the crows away.


. . . . . . .Date: Mon, 12 May 2003 08:04:37 -0400

From: "RustyMars"

Subject: nice program for ephemeris

Have been testing a new ephemeris program found on the Internet that appears to be very good. Go see:


and look for "PC-MAPOS Database for Object Positions on Mars Version 7.006 (ALPHA) for Windows9x/NT/2000/XP." If you can not download it I will send you the zipped install files for the program.


. . . . . . .Date: Tue, 13 May 2003 13:56:14 -0400

From: "RustyMars"

Subject: When Time Is Close


Minami-San, how are you? Mars is really nice to observe these cool mornings here in Florida. The conditions are just right for observing except the mosquitoes. They are very hungry for my bug spray.


When I was first approached to compute the date when Mars was last as close or closer to Earth than is will be in 2003 I wrote code for a special program to iterate back in time and plot the distances for each opposition year until a compare was made. My program began picking up unreasonable residuals so I asked a friend and coworker to help. His program is the same that the USNO uses, so he plotted Mars back 100,000 years and sent me a printout and plot that indicated Mars was as close or closer about 59,000 years ago. I took it as gospel.


Later on some other person(s) computed that date to be over 70,000 years ago. Well, I really do not think it matters to anyone else but those who are interested in such things and my friend, who formerly worked for USNO, tells me it doesn't matter to him, so it doesn't matter to me either. The important thing is that it was a long time ago, even before you and I were born, and it would be hard to prove anyway. If someone asks you when that was advise them that our calendars do not go back that far in the past, so no history existed. True in practice.


Take care and enjoy observing Mars.


. . . . . . .Date: Wed, 14 May 2003 08:16:05 -0400

Subject: Re: RE:When Time Is Close



Indeed it is, a complete year has passed since we met and talked in Yokohama. Fond memories for my family and me. Our son has departed from Japan and is now engaged in the "War on terror" in a place I cannot publicly state. He bought a house in San Diego and after three weeks went off into the Sunrise for another war in his history. He is of course a U.S. Naval Officer while his father was a lowly sergeant in the Air Force. Speaking of history I must tell you that its has been now 44 years since I first lived in Japan. Memories of that time are fading away as age creeps up on me. Hopefully your country will recover from the economic mess that we occasionally find ourselves in. It is to be expected in a free and open societies.


Because of the lack of proper editorial administration and space I presented a brief paper in The Strolling Astronomer (JALPO) that did not fully qualify assertions Jim DeYoung and I made of our original calculations. Because of a sensitive situation at his work place, from where I had recently retired, we thought it best not to mention in detail how we computed the +/- 100,000 plot. We also hoped that no one else in this Universe would care that our limits were off by a few thousand years. However, we were wrong and went back for a second look. Our results are the same and Jim cannot understand why we differ from two of five astronomical calculators. Jim and I both understand that much of the associated theories are based on old observations modified over the past 30 years by the evolution of space science. It was an interesting experiment, but of little interest to this visual Mars observer. I do, however, appreciate the interest by you and your colleagues.


Since I rarely watch TV news I am only slightly aware of this outbreak of disease in China and while one may have sympathies with their plight I am not aware that we in the USA are not effected with it yet. My son told me that because of some outbreak of a deadly disease in the Far East he would not be allowed to travel in that direction to his destination on the air craft carrier Nimitz, so he had to fly around the Earth in the opposite direction! I will have to watch more TV news, however nauseating it will be for me, to find out what I do not know. Percival Lowell seems to me to me as a more interesting subject of conservation -- even though I never met him.


While I only use the name "RustyMars" during clear periods on Mars I hope we do not see the return of a premature "DustyMars" in our telescopes until next conjunction. Are you aware of the images taken by spacecraft (MOC) during August 2002 showing a giant dust cloud that covered most of Acidalium Mare? I have attached the image, reduced in size so please magnify it later. It is amazing to me that we did not find this out until recently. So much for cooperation between amateur and professional Mars buffs.


. . . . . . .Date: Wed, 14 May 2003 09:46:58 -0400



I might add to my last message that we find that over very long periods of time Mars will vary its distance at closest approach to Earth by a fair amount. When I made Table-I in: Beish, J.D., "The Opposition Cycle of Mars,"JALPO., Vol. 44, No. 4, Autumn 2002, pp. 44-45 -- I used Jean MEEUS's, the Astronomical Table of the Sun, Moon and Planets, 2nd Ed (Willmann-Bell, Inc. 1995), as well. Unfortunately, his reference was missing from the finished draft of that article and the editor's did not catch the omission. That may be corrected someday, who knows. However, the 284-year point in the future seems to be the best fit for an even closer approach of Mars to Earth.


I sent The Strolling Astronomer an erratum: "NOTE: Predicting harmonic errors of the perihelion date for Mars coincident with the date Earth is at or near aphelion would be difficult to calculate because of the long precession periods for both planets. The axis of rotational precession for is over a period of ~175,000 years [~173,000, Kieffer et al, 1992]. Additionally, Mars' orbit also precession causing the line of apsides (a line bisecting aphelion and perihelion) to rotate. This cycle is completed in 72,000 years that results in a gradual shift in the position of perihelion with respect to the space that the Solar System occupies [Chattermole, 1992]. The axis of rotational for Earth precession over a period of ~25,800 years therefore compounding this problems of predicting their reoccurrence of this coincidental meeting of the Red Planet and Earth."


If these values of precession are just estimations then we will be vindicated. If they publish the corrections then that will be okay, but okay just the same if they do not.

References: Chattermole, P., (1992), Mars: The Story of the Red Planet, Chapman & Hall, Chapter 1.3, "The Martian Seasons,"pp. 3-5. and Kieffer, H.H., B. M. Jakosky, C.W. Snyder, and M.S. Matthews, Editors (1992), Chapter 9, "Long-Term Orbital and Spin Dynamics," Mars, University of Arizona Press, pp.304-305


. . . . . . .Date: Sun, 18 May 2003 18:12:30 -0400



You may wonder why I have used such a wide variety of magnifications for my observations. While moving from south Florida to Virginian then to Central Florida many of my telescope components were misplaced. Now they are turning up and some are pieces for the focuser of the 16-inch (41-cm) to accommodate the build in Barlow system. Finally all is back in order and my eyepiece collection is set for the proper magnifications. Usually that will be from 350 during "astronomical seeing" that is not great to 1,300x when it is perfect. The seeing here is typically 7-8 before Sunrise and 9-10 after Sunrise. However, due to floaters and other dirt in my observing eye using magnifications above 600 will be used only on rare occasions. Yes, the seeing here is super.


Retirement is great and I can now spend the rest of my uneventful life wondering what Mars will look like during the next morning that I am privileged to wake up to in this beautiful place. Getting older can be a puzzling time in our lives :)


. . . . . . .Date: Sun, 18 May 2003 20:04:41 -0400

From: "LustyMars"



First let me send to Masami MURAKAMI and to his wife that our prayers are with her and hope she will soon recover. My wife, June, remembers Masami and will pray for his wife often. I will also light a candle and clap to wake the spirits to help her inner self.

Also, do not worry about being late with updating the CMO images. Some web pages are far behind in their uploads and the CMO is almost like lightening fast.

I have developed a small amateurish Internet web page:


for the amusement of any obscure Mars observer who might need a fresh outlook on this hobby of ours.


Swami Sastrananda said: "If we are good observers, we will soon discover that most of our lives are enveloped by fear, which hangs around us like a thick fog or dark cloud. Then, anything which helps in lifting this fog of fear, in clearing this 'smog' of fear, even a little, is certainly a great blessing."

Yes, we in Florida are lucky to have such a hot climate, plenty of rain, black bears that smash our garbage cans and huge mosquitoes to make observing a joyful experience. Our a rainy season begins in a few weeks; however, even though we go to bed under clouds the sky clears by 0330 or 0400 local am time and observing begins with water puddles from that night's storm. It is the best time of the day when the birds begin to sign, frogs croak, and hopefully my friendly bear is asleep!

Again, we hope for a speedy recovery of MURAKAMI's wife.


. . . . . . .Subject: bright streak in Claritas

I find is somewhat difficult to interpret these processed web-cam images. Without the ability to truly separate the colors from the composites it is hard to tell if a bright area may be dust or just an artifact in the image. However, I noticed an interesting bright (red) area or streak in Claritas, just west of the ill-defined and dull Solis Lacus, in the following images: Km21May03 (KUMAMORI), ENg22May03 (Ng), and MVl22May03 (Valimberti) that appears to be brighter in red than normal. This bright spot or streak may be a dust cloud since all three images appear to exhibit the same things. Maybe we should watch this closely, huh?

(24 May 2003 email)

. . . . . . .Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 04:53:43 -0400 

From: "DustyMars"

Subject: Re: RE:bright streak in Claritas



I hope you did not take my last e-mail as a dust storm alert! I was just commenting on a bright area in Claritas and if you thought it was dust or an artifact on the composite movie (AVI) images. Sometimes these composites pick up brightness that is really not here and we need to separate the color filter components to really determine what the bright area is. At any rate it seems to have brightened up just west of Solis Lacus for a couple of days and now appears less so.


Mars was great this morning with excellent seeing and it was only 30 degrees high!


Good to hear that MURAKAMI's wife is doing okay. Say 'Ohayo gosaimasu' (good morning) to both of them for me. Please excuse the spelling error, getting too old to remember :) heiwa koto ba yori jikko ga taisetsu


. . . . . . .Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 16:18:55 -0400

Subject: Re: RE:Re: RE:bright streak in Claritas


When I attempted to separate the red/green/blue with my processing program (Paint Shop Pro) all the images came out the same density. These were composites of many hundreds of AVI frames and the colors will not separate in the final image. So, if the red can not be distinguished from blue it is useless information -- only pretty pictures. I even held up colored filter to the screen and all colors were the same density. Such images are difficult to use for study.


Anyway, Claritas appeared to change from 15 May when a bright cloud appeared over Tharsis-Phoenicis until that bright streak appeared in Claritas. I have witnessed several dust clouds/storms begin just in the same manner over the decades, so just wanted to see if OAA observers would take a careful look at the area. This science stuff is a lot of fun :)


I do not worry about such trends of who is mentioned for some small matter as a 10,000 year error :) I had to dig this out just for you: Confucius said: "Do not worry about lack of fame; worry about lack of ability." They used to refer to me as "sensei" and that is all the admiration I can stand to be called.  I am so glad it was not a dust storm!!!!! Observing Mars early each morning is to good to be interrupted with dusty air!


Jeff BEISH (Miami, FL, USA)

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