Legendary planetary photographer Don Parker has done it again. As you’re probably aware, Mars reached opposition March 3, appearing bright and relatively large in the sky. Tonight, the Red Planet will shine at magnitude –1.9 and its disk will span 13.1” as seen through telescopes. Even without a scope, it’s impressive as it hangs in the constellation Leo in the evening sky, and its bright orange color is readily apparent.
Don’s latest images of the planet (taken Saturday, March 24) show amazing features — large clouds over the regions of Tharsis (a volcanic plateau) and Candor Chasma, a valley. Another cloud lurks over the region of Ascraeus Mons, a large shield volcano; the peaks of Ascraeus and Olympus Mons, another huge volcano, are visible, flanked by clouds. What a spectacular portrait of Mars taken through a backyard telescope from Earth!
Don used a 14-inch Celestron SCT at f/42, a DMK 21AU 618.AS camera, a series of Astrodon filters, and multiple stacked images.