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Mars Opposition Season 2014: Images From Around the World
April 9, 2014 6:42 PM   Subscribe

Last night, Mars did not so much as attack, but rather was in opposition.
posted by vrakatar (22 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man, nothing showcases the difference between my old home in Florida and my new home in western PA more than Mars. Last opposition I could watch over the weeks as Mars went from featureless salmon-colored disc to something with ice caps to something with features and back again. This time, the few nights there aren't clouds, the atmosphere is so turbulent I'm lucky to see a single featureless disc. Ugh. On the other hand, it's much darker here, so I see way more galaxies than I did in Florida.

In conclusion, Mars is a land of contrasts.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:03 PM on April 9 [6 favorites]


I've been noticing it in the sky quite a lot in the past few weeks. It's pretty neat, but kind of pink (as it is in these photos).

How did it get the name the red plant? Is there so much crud and light pollution in our atmosphere that dims it?
posted by Mezentian at 7:31 PM on April 9


cue the endless facebook posts telling us that it will be brighter than the full moon. yay.
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:35 PM on April 9


Really, if that's the worst your Facebook feed has tip offer, you should be pretty proud of your friends and family.
posted by maryr at 7:42 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


I miss being able to see things in the sky. Galaxies?? Planets?? I miss stars.
posted by bleep at 7:52 PM on April 9


How did it get the name the red plant? Is there so much crud and light pollution in our atmosphere that dims it?
Could be... And I don't know, but my orange hair is also called red. I think the ancients just liked to call things red.
posted by bleep at 7:54 PM on April 9


Of course.
It goes back to that whole wine-dark sea thing, I suppose.
posted by Mezentian at 7:57 PM on April 9 [4 favorites]


The stars and galaxies are all there, you just need to tramp away from civilsation.
I recommend a night time picnic.
It works wonders.
posted by Mezentian at 8:09 PM on April 9


This explains the situation in Crimea and other geopolitical events. Fortunately the rest of the year things should improve as Mars moves away from this position.
posted by humanfont at 8:55 PM on April 9


Since buying a camera I've been trying to take pictures of the Moon, but it's not easy. It would be so amazing to hook it up to a telescope and capture pictures of Mars like these!
posted by Kevin Street at 9:56 PM on April 9


Since buying a camera I've been trying to take pictures of the Moon, but it's not easy. It would be so amazing to hook it up to a telescope and capture pictures of Mars like these!

The article had a link that kind of explained how you could use even an off-the-shelf webcam and a telescope with some cheap/free software and get decent looking planetary images.
posted by ssri at 10:37 PM on April 9


How did it get the name the red planet?

Why do you doubt that Mars is actually red? It appears red in imagery taken by vehicles we have placed on the surface, after all. The reason for the color is a high concentration of ferric oxide in the dust (actually a comparatively thin layer, millimeters thick in most places) which covers essentially the entire surface except for the poles, where there are seasonal ice caps. It definitely is red, or in the red range of the spectrum.

If you're asking why it isn't called pink, that's because intermediate colors like pink are relatively modern in definition. But the color actually varies quite a bit due to seasons, dust storms, and other factors.
posted by dhartung at 11:17 PM on April 9


If you're asking why it isn't called pink, that's because intermediate colors like pink are relatively modern in definition.

That is exactly the answer I needed.
I had no idea colours had changed so much over time.

To the library!
posted by Mezentian at 11:52 PM on April 9


Space: still really cool.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:55 AM on April 10


Universe Today has your answer, Mezentian.
posted by Kattullus at 5:20 AM on April 10


My imaging of planets improved dramatically when I started using a cheap webcam instead of a DSLR. A high frame rate of uncompressed imaging is much more important than sensor quality or pixel count (you won't be sampling the planet enough that you care about having a lot of pixels).

For what it's worth, my Mars from the other night (coincidentally was at opposition, although that was more because of when I happened to have a clear free night).
posted by edd at 6:24 AM on April 10 [3 favorites]


dhartung: "Why do you doubt that Mars is actually red? It appears red in imagery taken by vehicles we have placed on the surface, after all"

Just out of curiosity I took that image, selected as much ground as possible without including the black cutoffs and sky/horizon and then blurred the crap out of it. Then I picked the resulting averaged out color and fully saturated it resulting in rgb values of (118, 65, 0).

Then I used this color cube map based on xkcd's color survey results among English speakers and looked for the matching pixel.

If found it right in the middle of "brown".

Therefore I am forced to issue the following edict: Mars must henceforth be referred to by all as the "Brown Planet". Unauthorized use of the false and heretical term "Red Planet" will be persecuted mercilessly and is punishable by continuous exposure to the Brown Note played at moderate volume for no less than 1 hour.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:41 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]


I would have thought the brown planet was Ur---


OUCH, stop that, why are you hitting me STOP HITTING ME!
posted by maryr at 1:24 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Performing this analysis on Uranus reveals it to not be brown but rather a pretty shade of blue equally close to the light blue and teal sections of the color cube (0 168 197).
Uranus having that particular color may or may not be of medical relevance.
Please consult a medical professional.
IANAD, IANYD
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:38 PM on April 10


So THIS Is What It Feels Like To Stand On Mars
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NASA's Amazing New Space Suit Is Unusual-Looking for a Reason
posted by homunculus at 6:35 PM on May 1


NASA May Put Greenhouse on Mars in 2021
posted by homunculus at 5:49 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


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