Mars Opposition & Close Approach

Mars, near opposition & closest approach on October 10th 2020
Mars, near opposition & closest approach on October 10th 2020. Click for larger version.

When I purchased my new Celestron 9.25 EdgeHD and CGX mount in early August, I figured 2 months was plenty of time for it to arrive just in time for Mars opposition. I never have been one for planetary photography (good thing now, trees block them most of the time) but I was keen to try out the new optics to improve clarity.

Unfortunately, shipping companies don’t orient their schedules around the planets and I’m still using my trusty 8″ SCT from Celestron.

After downloading and practicing with Firecapture, I reconfigured my mount by removing the focal reducer and putting in a 3X Celestron X-Cel LX barlow lens to get a nice close up of the Red Planet. I bought the Barlow years ago, used it once, and then left it to collect dust (literally) in a closet.

Seeing conditions around the lake this time of year are spotty at best. As the air cools, the lake loses its heat and gives off crazy fog. The barlow made the seeing worse, and after several attempts over a few nights I decided to remove it and take what I could get.

A dramatic improvement from the small and pixelated version of Mars I captured 4 years ago, but still a long way to go. Maybe I’ll try again in 4 years.

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