Friday, June 29, 2018

Dusty Mars with a CH4 Filter

On the night of 28-29 June 2018, I had my first good look at Mars with the LX-850. I imaged The Red Planet with all of my filters. While the Red, Green and Blue Filters produced predictable results, the CH4 filter observation included several features not seen in the images produced with the other filters.

Mars - Stack of 2000 images obtained with a CH4 Filter at Prime Focus with a Meade 14" LX-850 scope and ZWO 1600 Camera

Currently ensconced in a global dust storm, Mars shows few features in all wavelengths. Therefore, I was surprised to see this detail in the image.

I believe the features are real and not processing artifacts. The features are seen in the original stacked image. Likewise, I could see them as I captured the original video. Unfortunately, the video is in .SER format and cannot be displayed here.

Mars' atmosphere contains virtually no methane - only "Florida Air" sent aboard the current rovers. So, the images cannot be recording methane features in the Martian atmosphere. Likewise, the features do not correspond to markings on the surface, so the CH4 filter is not seeing through the dusty atmosphere.

The only possibility I can think of is the CH4 filter is reveling some property of the different dust clouds encircling the planet.

A quick Internet search finds no images of Mars using a CH4 filter. I find it hard to believe the no other neophyte astrophotographer is pointing their CH4 Filter-equipped telescope at The Red Planet.

Using the CH4 filter as the luminosity chancel  and throwing in a red, green and blue image gives a strange result.

Tonight, I will attempt to duplicate the observation.

Goodbye, Orion

Amateur astronomers loathe the month of March. Daylight Savings Time steals yet another hour from our rapidly decreasing observing time....