On the date that this image was taken, Mars was only 18 days away from its closest approach. At a size of 23.7 arc-seconds and 97.8 percent illuminated, Mars had become a spectacular sight through a telescope. The planet had reached magnitude -2.5 (the maximum it will reach during this opposition is -2.9). The distance between Earth and Mars had shrunk to less than 59,000,000 kilometers (the closest approach will be 55,758,006 kilometers on August 27).
The white region at the bottom is the southern polar ice cap. Morning clouds or haze can be seen along the left limb of the planet. Syrtis Major was almost on the central meridian when this image was taken.
This image was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona, using a ToUcam web cam on a FCT-150 refractor with a Televue 4x PowerMate. The focal length was about f28. The images were aligned and stacked with Registax.
RA: 22h 53m 40.1s Dec: -14d 04' 47"
August 9, 2003
Image by Sid Leach
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