Astronomical League Apollo observing certificate

& finder doc

Apollo finder image doc & AL observing certificate

The Astronomical League has created a limited time observing certificate - it expires on 31 August 2019. This certificate involves observing all six Apollo landing sites. Click here to learn more.

Stay tuned for Mars 2018...

Here and gone. Updates below.

Mars is back!
Every two years, Mars and Earth get as close together as their orbits allow. It's two years after this entry was created. SoOoOo, to use an old catchphrase, "IT'sss BaAaAack!"
Closest approach is October 13 this year.
Be there or B Square

2018 results

So every year, ASEM publishes a calendar with astronomical events for the year. Included in the calendar are selected astro photographs from its' members. These are world class images taken by world class imagers. The skills of these guys are far superior to mine. On a whim, I submitted my 2018 Mars shots to Rick (the creator, designer, editor, and copy writer) for his consideration. To my surprise, not only did he accept them, but he displayed them in a manner I had not thought of but is VERY interesting. And his related text is awesome! Here's a photo of that entry in this years calendar. Thank you Fredrick Steiling for including this in your remarkable calendar (click on image for higher res version).  

2018 apparition info

In the meantime, if you live within about a 100 miles of St Louis Missouri and you're thinking of taking on the Astronomical League's Mars Observing Program, then here's a link to a nice ephemeris for Mars supporting that program and a link to a document on how to read it.

By the way: At the end of May a dust storm developed. We haven't seen Mars this good since we started this effort.

On 31 May, the group was at Broemmelsiek Park performing initial imaging setup and equipment testing. During these tests we imaged mars and noticed a brighter than normal area in what was later identified as the Eastern edge of Chryse Planetia. On the screen, we thought it was Hellas coming into view so we didn't pay it any more attention. We did not post process these images until much later. By then the dust storm had been announced and as is now known, it grew into the great planet wide dust storm of 2018. Not only did it make detailed observations of Mars impossible, but it killed the rover Opportunity. After reviewing these images, it became apparent that we captured the first images of the dust storms' formation. Unfortunately we were not “The first to publish”. It should be noted that these ASEM members were each gathering data for their own individual program efforts. They were Dan Crowson, Mike Pusatera and Fredrick Steiling. I was only observing them in order to learn the process):

Where it all started

What it looks like today, June 18 (at least from my 8 inch SCT here in Missouri):

June 18 2018

I will say it appears more than a magnitude brighter than predicted.

As of July 7 it appears to be magnitude -3 at least. If this keeps up, it should be mag -5 by opposition on July 28th.

Keep you're eye on this guy, it just keeps getting larger and brighter smaller and dimmer with each passing day (we passed opposition and closest approach on 1 August 2018. In smaller telescopes like the 8" SCT, the dust storm still looks like the image above :(

July 2019 update:

I completed the Mars Observing Program submission document and it was approved by Mark Simonson. Award number 5. Link to the document. I gotta say, completing this program was just as involved and time consuming as completing the Herschel 400 program. This one was a bit more challenging due to the learning curve of digital imaging and post processing - and expensive too.

Defeating dew one blanket at a time!

A judiciously commented photo album.

Note: The "Scope Blanket" link is broken. Click on the image below to go to a special photo album. To see comments for individual photos, click on the 'i' in a circle symbol at the top of an image or "More" at the bottom of an image.

Celestron 8" Schmidt Cassegrain with Scope blanket and dew shield

Or how to keep your batteries and controllers functional when it's almost sub-zero outside.



(Click on the image below to see the animation)


Page describing how "Terminator - The small movie" was made as well as the full size animation.

Graphical view 

of the weather predictions along the 2017 total eclipse line.

(OK, so the Eclipse has come and gone so this graphic isn't needed anymore for that purpose. I'm leaving it up as it does a good job of showing advancing good weather for the most part And as a placeholder for the 2024 total eclipse)

Locations West to East:
  1. Casper Wyoming is on the centerline
  2. Laing Park is near Alliance Nebraska (west) and is on the centerline
  3. Grand Island Nebraska (East) is on the centerline
  4. Missouri State University is St. Joseph Missouri and is on the centerline
  5. Columbia Missouri is on the Center line
  6. Danville Missouri
  7. Broemmelsiek Park Missouri
  8. St. Clair Missouri is on the Center line
  9. Carbondale Illinois is on the centerline
  10. Shepard' Valley Observatory is just north of the Centerline and is East of Nashville Tennessee

Drat, dead link. Unisys went in a different direction. Visible satellite in motion But there's good news, here's a much better page for viewing the overall cloud patterns and motions over the continental United States: COD: Satellite and Radar


The gadget you added is not valid



Phases of the Moon

Sketching practice

       Results                                        Practice       

 Animated Moon test (Trust me, it's a GIF - click on it...I dare ya ;)

Animated moon


(Click on image for full webpage)

This project was the stimulus for a spotlight article in the ShowMeSolar newsletter:

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Grant Martin,
Apr 28, 2019, 11:36 PM
Grant Martin,
May 5, 2019, 7:54 PM
Grant Martin,
Apr 30, 2009, 10:02 PM
Grant Martin,
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Grant Martin,
Jul 20, 2019, 11:21 PM
Grant Martin,
Aug 30, 2019, 2:16 PM
Grant Martin,
Jul 11, 2019, 10:37 PM
Grant Martin,
Jul 7, 2018, 4:12 AM
Grant Martin,
Jul 7, 2018, 4:13 AM
Grant Martin,
Aug 25, 2019, 10:53 AM