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Mars Dust Storm


Part of the fun of observing Mars comes from being able to see Martian weather as it develops. This image shows a dust storm crossing the Chryse region of Mars in October of 2005. The storm appears as a bright inverted-V shape just to the upper left of center. Dust storms on Mars are often huge events, sometimes growing to cover the entire planet. The storm shown here more than doubled in size before it dissipated several days later. Other weather also shows up in the photo: slightly bluish clouds can be seen near the north pole (around the 12 o'clock position) and also on the morning limb (around 8 o'clock). You can also watch the seasons change. During 2005, Mars' southern hemisphere was experiencing summer. Compare the size of the southern ice cap in 2005 to what it was in 2003.

Although Mars appeared much higher in the sky in 2005 than it did in 2003, the weather where I live was turbulent with generally poor seeing. This photo is one of only a few I managed in 2005 through the blur of atmospheric turbulence. As a result, I was unable to improve on the set of photos used to construct the movie of Mars rotating that I made in 2003.

A composite of about 900 video frames selected from 1,800 taken using a Philips ToUcam Pro through an Astro-Physics 155mm (6.1 inch) refractor at about f50 starting at 2:21 UT on October 18, 2005 from northern New Jersey through hazy, partly cloudy skies. Exposure was 1/33rd second at ten frames/second. The video was captured using K3CCDTools, combined using Registax, and further processed in Photoshop. 2005

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