October 19, 2017

Astro-Challenge: Can You Spot the Moons of Mars?

Mars and its moons as they appeared on the moment of their discovery in 1877. (Credit: Constructed by the Author in Starry Night).

Mars and its moons as they appeared on the moment of their discovery in 1877. (Credit: Constructed by the Author in Starry Night).

This weeks’ challenge is a toughie and not for the faint of eye sight. In 1877, American astronomer Asaph Hall discovered the Martian Moons using the newly installed 26” refracting telescope at the U.S. Naval Observatory. Named appropriately Phobos (fear) and Deimos (terror), the moons were well suited companions for Mars, the god of war. Both moons, however, are tiny; outermost Deimos is 12.6 km in size and orbits Mars once every 30.35 hours, while innermost Phobos is larger, at 22.2 km in size and orbits the Red Planet in only 7.7 hours! In fact, at an orbital radius of only 9,377 km, Phobos orbits its primary closer than any other satellite in the solar system. Both tiny misshapen worlds are believed to be captured asteroids that will, one day millions of years in the future, spiral into Mars. Most of the time, these moons lie out of the range of all but the largest telescopes; but as Mars just passed opposition this past week, however, sighting these elusive moons might just be possible. [Read more...]

Gear Review: Canons Image Stabilized Binoculars.

Every once in a while, we here at Astroguyz find a toy that surpasses expectations. Canon’s Image Stabilized (IS) binoculars are one such gizmo. I’ve had my trusty pair of 15 X 45’s for almost ten years now, and they’ve worked flawlessly! They also fit my two criteria for taking on new technology; they’re simple to use (there’s only one button to push!), and they’re maintenance free.

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