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MARS 2018

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This image below is a composite of some of the Mars images we captured during the 2018 apparition.

The size variation reflects the apparent size of Mars throughout the period from early May till early September with the largest disks being those taken around opposition when Mars was nearest to the Earth.

Images #4 & #5 show the start of the huge dust storm that began on Mars in 2018 with #6 showing how rapidly & dramatically this blotted out details in the Martian landscape normally observed. (see 2016 apparition to demonstrate some of the differences)

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These images are monochrome (black & white) images of the 2018 apparition: the first 3 & #6 are actually red filter images whilst the rest are iR filter images (iR610nm filter images) that do a good job in “penetrating” the dust layers to show the underlying details of the Martian landscape a bit better.

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4th May 2018

Just as Mars draws nearer to the Earth orbitally-speaking, more details began to emerge & clouds could be seen in the Martian atmosphere: the white patch just to the right of centre being one such example.

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15thMay 2018

Another white, patchy cloud region on the right in this image with Syrtis Major, the Hellas crater region & Sinus Sabaeus & Sinus Meridiani in view.

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2nd June 2018

A very similar view to the May 4th image further down but with Mars gradually appearing larger as it draws nearer & details become a bit clearer: more white clouds streaked across the Martian atmosphere concentrated towards the right hand side.

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4th June 2018

What's this?.? Clouds are normally whitish - but these ones on the right (about 2 o'clock position) extending towards the top of the Martian disk are much more yellow!!!

Dust is being kicked up into the atmosphere - & not just a little bit..!

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5th June 2018

Still there the next night - very interesting, but not good for capturing fine details on Mars' surface..!

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18th June 2018

What was I saying about the dust & fine details?!? Here we "see" the Northern tip of Syrtis Major barely peeking out from beneath an enormous cloud of dust that covers a very large area of the planet! (see May 15th image below for comparison)

Even those small areas we can see here are quite obscured by the dust in Mars' atmosphere.

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26th June 2018

8 days later than the image below - & the face of Mars on view is not much different to the 18th June image except Syrtis Major has not rotated into view quite as much.

But this mono (black & white) image below was captured using a near-infra-red or "red longpass" filter, the iR610nm type, which enables us to "penetrate" through the dust in the Martian atmosphere to see a bit more of the underlying surface features of the planet.

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27th June 2018

The image below shows how various infra-red filters enable us to "penetrate the dust" in the atmosphere that I spoke of just below: here we see what this view of Mars looks like with all the dust in colour (r-g-b) as well as just in the red filter as well as 2 infra-red filters.

You can see that there is more to see in the filters with the iR filters revealing the most - very handy with all the dust!

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30th June 2018

Here below we see one of the faces of Mars that looks extremely dusty & obscured in this rgb (colour) image:

But of special interest is the slightly raised "bump" on the edge of Mars' disk, better seen in the magified view in the inset image.

This is actually displaying a feature high up in the Martian atmosphere...a mixture of cloud & dust & reasonably rare to capture by amateurs. :)

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10th July 2018

Here we see Mars in a combined r-g-b image (ie, colour) as well as one through the red filter by itself as well as ones from iR610nm & iR742nm filters.

Of particular interest here is that lighter-coloured dust blown up into the Martian atmosphere has resettled down on the surface of Mars & accumulated in lower-lying areas such as the enormous canyon systems of Valles Marineris, leaving them defined like snail-like tracks on the Martian surface - as they would almost never be seen in normal situations!

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18th July 2018

The image below represents one of the highlights of an apparition of Mars where the near-global dust storm made such a dramatic impact: here the dust has literally highlighted the various canyons of the Valles Marineris system. (a network of enormous canyons that make the US Grand Canyon look tiny in comparison)

The dust has also "picked out" numerous craters & other features usually very difficult, if not impossible to see with amateur equipment.

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The image below is an "r-r-g-b" image where a normal colour image is enhanced by overlaying the red filter image over the Rgb image: being usually the most detailed, this reinforces the detail already visible & allows for easier identification of craters, some of which I have marked here.

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July 24th 2018

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27th July 2018

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1st August 2018

The images below show a face of Mars where the prominent dark feature Syrtis Major is beginning to appear on the left hand side as Mars rotates, best seen in the the last 2 images below.

What is also noticeable in the images is that the features of Mars appear darkest (most enhanced or contrasted) when they are seen near the central regions of these images.

Later images will also display this aspect & it is due to the fact that looking at features when they are nearer the edges of Mars means we are looking through a greater layer of the Martian atmosphere & the dust in it, making it harder to see these features clearly - but of course compared to when the dust storm was at its' most intense, a lot more surface detail is evident regardless of where we look!

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8th August 2018

A week later & we see Olympus Mons, Mars enormous volcano (extinct) just past the Central Meridian & about 1/4 way down from the top of the disk in the first couple of images, moving eastwards as Mars rotates as shown in the subsequent images.

Numerous craters & other features have had their visibility enhanced by the deposition of lighter-cloured dust in them as in these images below.

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18th August 2018 Animation

The small animation below is of a couple of images from the blue filter captures on this night: the blue filter displays best the clouds floating in Mars' atmosphere although since the dust storms sprang up these white clouds have been very noticeable by their absence!

In this animation the clouds surrounding Mars' North Pole (at the top in this image) can be seen moving over the timespan of these 2 frames: the South Pole is starting to recede (melt) rapidly as Summer approaches whilst at the opposite end of Mars in the North the colder months are approaching...

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19th August 2018

By the dates of the next sets of images below the Martian atmosphere has started to clear of dust considerably: however, the fact that the darker features still appear most dark when they are in the central regions of the disk as Mars rotates & that they are not nearly as dark as they appear in earlier apparitions shows their effects are still quite noticeable. (Looking at Mars through more of the dust in its’ atmosphere when viewing the edges of the planet is, as mentioned the reason for this.)

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21st  August 2018

In these images beow we can clearly see that the shrinking South Polar Ice Cap has "left behind" a small section of ice beyond its clear boundaries: this is often a feature of Mars as Polar ice mellts, much like on Earth!

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21st August 2018 Composite

In the next few images we can also see bluish-white clouds gathered around the North Polar region - termed a "hood".

We also notice that the South Polar Ice Cap has started to shrink as the Winter has passed & this Southern Hemisphere of Mars begins to warm up!

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21st August Large Size

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25th August 2018

The darker features on Mars are beginning to take on their more "normal" contrast even though they have not returned to that prior to the dust storm. Craters filled with lighter dust are still quite visible if one eamines these images...

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25th August 2018 Large Size

The lighter-coloured area just to the left of centre & above the South Polar Icecap is another huge impact basin or crater, the Argyre Basin.

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July 10th & 18th AND August 1st & 8th

Despite the effects of the near-global dust storm in this apparition (or possibly because of it!) the first image here displays astonishing details: quite a bit of this is because quite a lot of the lighter-coloured dust stirred up settled down into craters & areas like the huge multi-canyon system of Valles Marineris, making them stand out much more clearly from the (darker) surrounding backgrounds.

See the same images further down in date order for a bit more information...

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17th May 2016 and 21st August 2018 Comparison

Here is an comparison between 2 Mars images - the first (left) image taken in May 2016 & the 2nd in August 2018.

In the intervening 2 years Mars has tilted away from the North Pole & towards the South Pole so that we see more of the South Polar regions: the rotation is also not exactly the same but the general view is fairly similar however.

The differences otherwise are principally to do with the after-effects of the recent near-global dust storm that has cleared reasonably well since earlier this year - but the differences are still there & can be put down to dust still floating in the Martian atmosphere as well as an altered "landscape" due to shifts in the dust on the ground covering (or uncovering) darker, more permanent features.

m2018-05-14_2016-05-17_2016-Mars145509-May17thAND2018-Mars140517

 

 

 

 

 

 

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