Mars Attempt #1
We were up in western Massachusetts this weekend visiting family and I packed the telescope in case I could get a look at Mars. As you may already know, this summer's apparition is the most promising in recorded history, with Mars appearing larger from earth's surface than anyone alive has ever seen it, or will ever see it again. Mars will be closest and look biggest next month, but there's a significant possibility that a dust storm currently brewing on Mars will have blanketed the planet by then and prevent us from seeing any surface features.
So I dragged myself out of bed at three o'clock Saturday morning, peeked out a window to see Mars beaming peachily over a neighbor's house, and snuck outside and set up. Unfortunately I was beset by atmospheric problems closer to home. I found Mars easily at 48x, then switched to 96x and then 240x to try and get a look at some details, but the seeing was terrible and Mars billowed and swirled in the eyepiece. Back at 96x it wasn't long before I noticed a half dozen prismatic rays haloing the planet - high altitude ice or dew on my mirror, I'm not sure which.
Doing this in the middle of the night takes more out of me than I'd like, but I'll try again if New Jersey blesses me with clear steady skies on of these nights. Cross your fingers for me.