Another observing campaign from Cyprus

April 13th - 26th, 2013

Above: At Mount Olympus, Cyprus on the final night with fellow astronomer and Cypriot resident Agapios Elia.

With Saturn now poorly placed in altitude from back home the hope of obtaining any images of good quality necessitated a trip overseas once more. I decided to return to Cyprus again after enjoying  pretty successful trip some months earlier to observe Jupiter.

During the course of this trip i observed from both the villa located in Souni at 400m above sea level, but also made three trips upto the highest summit of the island at Mount Olympus, 1900m above sea level. Conditions there were in general better, with excellent sky transparency and some periods of excellent seeing conditions.

Saturn peaked at around 44 altitude from the island, while Jupiter was available fairly low in the evening sky each evening being well past opposition and 30% smaller in angular size than back in December. The moon was well placed throughout its waxing phases in the evening sky, passing close to the zenith near first quarter so some good images were possible.

Overall the experience was much the same as the previous trip, with overall average seeing conditions prevailing, excellent at times and very poor at others. The best conditions of all were found on April 20th from Mt. Olympus where both sky transparency and seeing were superb. This night was probably the highlight of the trip despite freezing conditions at the summit throughout the night!

Damian Peach, June 2013.

 

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Partial lunar eclipse from Mt. Olympus

Later on the night of April 25th a partial lunar eclipse occured. It was well placed as seen from Cyprus with the moon well above the horizon. Despite only a small fraction of the moon entering the umbra, it was easily obvious with the naked eye and very apparent in the images captured such as the one above.


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Full moon rises from Mt. Olympus

The full moon of April 25th having just risen. A beautiful sight from the clear transparent skies found at high altitude.


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Milkyway from Mt. Olympus

The high altitude and dark skies found at Mt. Olympus makes it an excellent site for enjoying the beauty of a dark and transparent night sky. Here we see the centre of our galaxy captured with a DSLR camera mounted on a tripod. 20 x 15 sec exposures were added together for this view. The glow near the horizon is from the city of Limasoll around 50km to the south.


SATURN IMAGERY

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Saturn's northern polar hexagon feature - April 21st, 2013.

Saturn's polar hexagon is a persisting hexagonal cloud pattern around the north pole of Saturn, located at about 78N. The sides of the hexagon are about 13,800 km (8,600 mi) long, which is longer than the Earth's diameter. It rotates with a period of 10h 39m 24s, the same period as Saturn's radio emissions from its interior. However, the hexagon does not shift in longitude like other clouds in the visible atmosphere.

The increasing tilt northward of the planet as seen from Earth he enabled amateur astronomers for the first time to finally observe this feature. The above polar projection image shows the feature captured on April 21st.


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Saturn, April 23rd and 26th, 2013. Poor seeing so only red light images were possible. Little of note across the planet.


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Saturn, April 22nd, 2013. Poor to fair seeing. A bright storm is visible within the bright belt remaining from the great storm of 2011.


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Saturn, April 21st, 2013. Taken from back down near sea level. Despite this seeing was still good. Various small storms are again visible across the planet.


 

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Saturn, April 20th, 2013. From Mt. Olympus, Cyprus at 1900m altitude under excellent conditions (both seeing and transparency.) Various small storms are visible across the disk, along with various brightness variations within the ring system. The narrow encke division is also clearly seen around the ansae of ring A. Despite freezing conditions it was well worth the effort!


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Saturn, April 17th, 2013. Fair seeing. Some faint storms are visible on the disk including a bright spot in the brighter band left over from the great storm of 2011.


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Saturn, April 13th and 14th, 2013. Poor seeing on both nights hence only red light images of the planet were obtained.


JUPITER IMAGERY

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Jupiter on April 26th, 2013. The final session of the apparition. Very good seeing but the scope wasn't cooled enough due to being driven upto high altitude. None the less plenty can still be seen across the planet, with Oval BA prominent.


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Jupiter on April 25th, 2013. Fair to poor seeing. The turbulent region following the GRS is presented, while the GRS itself sits on the limb.


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Jupiter on April 23rd, 2013. Poor to fair seeing. Spot Z can be see just off to the left along the NEB northern edge. 


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Jupiter on April 21st, 2013. Fair seeing. Spot Z is seen just going off at right. Turbulent activity within the SEB and prominent blue festoons on the NEB south edge.


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Jupiter on April 19th, 2013. Fair seeing conditions. A nice array of SSTC white ovals can be seen. A nice white rift in the NEB.


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Jupiter on April 18th, 2013. Good seeing. The region following the GRS is presented with the turbulent wake visible off to the right. Spot Z is seen just coming onto the disk.


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Jupiter on April 17th, 2013. Fair to good seeing. Oval BA is prominent in the south showing its orange colouration. Turbulent dark region of STB following it.


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Jupiter on April 16th, 2013. Fair seeing. The giant oval white spot Z is prominent in the NEB. Very quiet across the southern hemisphere.


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Jupiter on April 15th, 2013. Fair seeing but clouds rapidly encroaching prevented anything more. The GRS can be seen with the peculiar pale spot in the SEB just ahead of it.


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Jupiter on April 14th, 2013. Poor to fair seeing conditions. Io and shadow in transit.


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Jupiter on April 13th, 2013. Fair to good seeing. The first test of a new ASI120MM camera. The planet is now much smaller in angular size than back in December making fine detail harder to resolve. The GRS can be seen just heading off with turbulent wake following.


LUNAR IMAGERY

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Tycho at sunrise

Tycho is a very prominent impact crater located in the southern lunar highlands, named after Tycho Brahe. The surface around Tycho is replete with craters of various differing radii, many overlapping still older craters. Some of the smaller craters are secondary craters formed from larger chunks of ejecta from Tycho.

Tycho is a relatively young crater, with an estimated age of 108 million years, as estimated from samples of the crater rays recovered during the Apollo 17 mission. The crater is sharply defined and free of the wear that affects older craters. The interior has a high albedo that is prominent when the sun is overhead, and the crater is surrounded by a distinctive ray system forming long spokes that reach as long as 1,500 kilometers. Sections of these rays can be observed even when Tycho is only illuminated by earthlight. 356mm reflector. ASI120MM. Souni, Cyprus.


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Schiller is an oddly-shaped impact crater located in the southwest sector of the moon. To the east is the Bayer crater. The rim of Schiller has an elongated shape that is amplified by its proximity to the lunar limb. The long axis lies along a line running northwest-southeast, with the wider girth located in the southeastern half. There is a slight bend in the elongation, with the concave side facing to the northeast. Observers have noted that Schiller appears to be a fusion of two or more craters. It bears a superficial resemblance to the footprint left by a shoe.

The crater rim is well-defined, with a terraced inner wall and a slight outer rampart. At the southeast end, a smaller crater is connected to Schiller by a wide valley. Most of the Schiller crater floor is flat, most likely due to lava flooding. There are some bright patches that are most clearly visible under a high sun angle. A double-ridge lies along the center of the northwest crater floor, forming a nearly linear formation that divides the floor in half. 356mm reflector. ASI120MM. Souni, Cyprus.


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Arzachel is a relatively young lunar impact crater located in the highlands in the south-central part of the Moon, close to the zero meridian. Together with Alphonsus and Ptolemaeus further north the three form a prominent trio of craters. 

The rim of Arzachel shows little sign of wear and has a detailed terrace structure on the interior, especially on the slightly higher eastern rim. There is a rough outer rampart that joins a ridge running from the north rim to southern rim of Alphonsus crater.

The rugged central peak of Arzachel is prominent, rising 1.5 kilometers above the floor, and is somewhat offset to the west with a bowed curve from south to north-northeast. The floor is relatively flat, except for some irregularities in the southwestern quadrant of the crater. There is a rille system named the Rimae Arzachel that runs from the northern wall to the southeast rim. A small crater lies prominently in the floor to the east of the central peak, with a pair of smaller craterlets located nearby. 356mm reflector. ASI120MM. Souni, Cyprus.


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Aristoteles is a impact crater that lies near the southern edge of the Mare Frigoris, and to the east of the Montes Alpes mountain range. To the south of Aristoteles lies the slightly smaller crater Eudoxus, and these two form a distinctive pair. An arc of mountains between these craters bends to the west, before joining the walls.

Observers have noted the crater wall of Aristoteles is slightly distorted into a rounded hexagon shape. The inner walls are wide and finely terraced. The outer ramparts display a generally radial structure of hillocks through the extensive blanket of ejecta. The crater floor is uneven, and covered in hilly ripples. Aristoteles does possess central peaks, but they are somewhat offset to the south. 356mm reflector. ASI120MM. Souni, Cyprus.


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Theophilus, Cyrillus and Catharina

Along with the Ptolemaeus trio, this famous trio of craters is almost as spectacular. Theophilus (at left) is one of the most spectacular impact craters on the Moon and is 100km in diameter. Though well preserved, it is still more than 1 billion years old. Cyrillis is partially overlayed by Theophilus being a rather older formation. Catharina is also an ancient formation overlayed by subsequent impacts. 356mm reflector. ASI120MM. Souni, Cyprus.


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Mare Humboldtianum

(Latin for "Sea of Alexander von Humboldt") is a lunar mare located within the Humboldtianum basin, just to the east of Mare Frigoris. It is located along the northeastern limb of the Moon, and continues on to the far side. Due to its location, the visibility of this feature can be affected by libration, and on occasion it can be hidden from view from Earth. It has a diameter of 273 km. However the surrounding basin extends for a diameter of over 600 km. The walled plain Bel'kovich spills over the northwestern portion of Mare Humboldtianum. 356mm reflector. ASI120MM. Souni, Cyprus.


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Mare Crisium

Mare Crisium (the "Sea of Crises") is a lunar mare located in the Moon's Crisium basin, just northeast of Mare Tranquillitatis. The basin is of the Pre-Imbrian period, 4.55 to 3.85 billion years ago. It is 555 km (345 mi) in diameter, and 176,000 km2 in area. It has a very flat floor, with a ring of wrinkled ridges toward its outer boundaries. Ghost craters (craters that have largely been buried under deposits of other material), are located to the south. 356mm reflector. ASI120MM. Souni, Cyprus.


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J. Herschel at sunrise

J. Herschel is large lunar crater of the variety termed a walled-plain. It is located in the northern part of the Moon's surface, and so appears foreshortened when viewed from the Earth. The southeastern rim of J. Hershel forms part of the edge of the Mare Frigoris lunar mare.

The rim of J. Herschel crater has been heavily eroded, to the point where it is frequently described as "considerably disintegrated". The remaining rim survives as a ring of ridges that have been resculpted by subsequent impacts. The interior floor is relatively level, but irregular and marked by a multitude of tiny impacts. The most notable of these are the satellite craters C, D, K, and L, listed in the table below. 'Horrebow A' is attached to the southern rim of the crater, and is overlapped along its southwest rim by Horrebow. 356mm reflector. ASI120MM. Souni, Cyprus.


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Gassendi at sunrise

A large lunar crater feature located at the northern edge of Mare Humorum. The formation has been inundated by lava during the formation of the mare, so only the rim and the multiple central peaks remain above the surface. The outer rim is worn and eroded, although it retains a generally circular form. A smaller crater 'Gassendi A' is intruding into the northern rim, and joins a rough uplift at the northwest part of the floor. The crater pair bears a curious resemblance to a diamond ring.

In the southern part of the crater floor is a semi-circular ridge-like formation that is concentric with the outer rim. It is in the southern part where the rim dips down to its lowest portion, and a gap appears at the most southern point. The rim varies in height from as little as 200 meters to as high as 2.5 kilometers above the surface. The floor has numerous hummocks and rough spots. There is also a system of rilles that criss-cross the floor, named the Rimae Gassendi. 356mm reflector. ASI120MM. Souni, Cyprus.


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Clavius at sunrise

One of the Moons most famous craters. It is 225km in diameter and peppered by impacts. Its floor is also flooded with ancient lava. As a result on the top of the original central peak is visible. The large craters Rutherfurd (top left) and Porter (bottom left) cut through the wall of this large crater. Clavius was formed more than 3 billion years ago when a large object hit the lunar surface. 356mm reflector. ASI120MM. Souni, Cyprus.


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Aristoteles and Eudoxus

Aristoteles is an impact crater on the southern edge of the Mare Frigoris. It is 87km across and forms a prominent pairing with the nearby Eudoxus crater to the south (37km in diameter.) 356mm reflector. ASI120MM. Souni, Cyprus.


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Ptolemaeus, Aphonsus and Arzachel

Three of the most prominent and famous craters on the Moon. Ptolemaeus (153km), Alphonsus (119km) and Arzachel (96km) form a prominent trio of large craters near the centre of the visible Moon. Alphonsus was the impact site of the Ranger 9 probe in March 1965. The crater contains a complex system of rilles as well as dark halo craters. Arzachel is the youngest of the three craters and also contains a system of rilles, while Ptolemaeus is pitted with countless tiny craters. 356mm reflector. ASI120MM. Souni, Cyprus.

 


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