Moon/Mars Conjunction- July 17, 2003. 12:20 AM
Rancho Santa Margarita California.
While others in North America saw an excellent occultation, we here on the west coast witnessed only a close approach of Mars and the Moon. Low on the eastern horizon and still very much in the thick atmospheric "soup" it was still a great treat to see.

AT RIGHT
DS-16 w/6" Aperture Mask
Prime Focus ( f12)
1/50 Second Exposure
Nikon D100
Sky & Telescope predicted a separation between Mars and the Moon of 15' at 12:22 AM for the Los Angeles area (for scale, the diameter of Mars is only 20" wide). This was not a tight grouping and definitely best viewed under low power. It was almost too wide for the Nikon D100 at the prime focus of the 16" telescope, and it was not possible to fit them both on the CCD sensor without cropping much of the moon out. Still, as I had just cleaned and collimated the optics of the DS-16, it simply had to be used this night.

ABOVE
DS-16 w/6" Aperture Mask
13mm Plossl, Eyepiece Projection
1/15 Second Exposure
Nikon D100
It was really hard to shoot this event so close to the horizon. We've had some muggy weather come up from the Gulf of California and it really has turned our skies into a boiling, wobbling mess. The above image is a 50% reduction from the orignial digital capture. It just looks better smaller.


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