At the moment Mars is making it’s closest approach to Earth for the next 18 years so Astro2 thought this was too good a chance to miss! The only slight drawback was that Mars wasn’t well placed for observation from the Physics Observatory until after midnight. However, I offered to run a Mars watch at 1am and to my great surprise I wasn’t alone! There were in fact over 20 other people braving the cold with me!

This was the first opportunity Astro2 had to use the physics department’s LX200 10" telescope. The conditions were not really ideal but we did nonetheless get a good look. We started off with a 15mm eyepiece giving a magnification of about 170X which allowed people to see some surface details while keeping the magnification low enough to keep the image nice and sharp. Once everyone had a look at the low magnification I changed to a 12mm eyepiece to increase the magnification to about 120X. At this stage the sky was getting very hazy and there was a good coating of dew on the corrector plate of the telescope but we could still easily see the black regions on the surface even though the image was quite fuzzy. I did try to up the magnification to about 280X with a 9mm eyepiece but that just wasn’t gonna happen in those conditions!

All in all I think people had a good time and I’m really encouraged by such a high turnout for an Astro2 event at 1am!