Mars Observing Form
Click on Image to Download PDF
Many potential planetary observers say they canít draw, so they never
even try to make planetary drawings. But drawing planets is not fine
art. Instead, it is a careful record of what you saw with your
telescope. An ugly drawing is just as useful as a masterpieceóso donít
let any lack of artistic ability stand in your way.
Use the AAAA observing
form for your drawings. Just
download from our PDF file and copy
the form as many times as you need, use it to record your observations,
and file it in your observing notebook.
1. Mars Charts - Classical Mars
Charts show south up, with the Martian west to the right. Modern maps
usually show north up.
2. The Terminator
is the line where daylight ends and night begins, given in seconds of
subtended arc on the apparent disk .
Central Meridian (CM) is the imaginary line
passing through the planetary poles of rotation and bisecting the
4. The Axial Tilt
(De)is the declination of Earth as
seen from Mars, and is equal to the aerographic latitude of the center
of the Martian disk.
5. The Martian Date
(MD) is the seasonal date of Mars in its orbit.
Aerocentric Longitude (Ls) is the Martian
season. 0=spring, 90 =summer, 180-autumn, 270=winter. Find these values
in The Astronomical Almanac.
AAAA Mars Card
|The AAAA Mars Card is a concise way to learn the
essential information about Mars during the current favorable opposition
in August and September 2003. Just click on either image to down load our
PDF, print it off, and make copies for yourself and to hand out at your
own Mars Observing Events for friends and the general public!
Make the Photocopies!
have time to make copies? Let us do the work for you. We will make copies
at $10 per 100 postpaid, as many as you want, and send them to you via
USPS Mail! Order online through CCNow, our Online Retailer. Canadian and
overseas orders additional postage.
AAAA Mars Card:
100 for $10 ppd:
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Planning for the Public
In planning any special Mars observing activities for the
general public or the media, keep in mind that in late August
when Mars is closest (diameter about 25 arc sec), it will only rise
about 30 degrees above the horizon at midnight ... so not good for
"early evening" observing. However, this situation improves through September:
end of September, Mars will still be over 20 arc sec. in diameter, but will cross the meridian (a bit more than 30
degrees high) earlier ... about 9:30PM. This placement is somewhat
better for public programs.
As always, there is the danger of
planet-wide dust storms at this perihelion. Storm activity on Mars will
easily wipe out any surface features otherwise visible.
Society has proclaimed August 27, 2003, the date of opposition, as "Mars
Day". The Planetary Society has a goal of "half of the world's
population looking at, or thinking about, Mars" on Mars day. So please
circle this day on your calendar. Now is the time to start planning Mars
Parties in your local area.
This chart by C.F. Chapin shows the
relative positions of Mars and Earth for the years 1988 to 2003. The
last great opposition of Mars was 1988. On August 28, 2003, Mars will be
at its closest approach to Earth in recorded history, at a distance of
only 34,646,418 miles.
Click on image for