Mars Watch 4th / 5th November

The East Antrim Astronomical Society, in association with the National Trust, held a Mars Watch on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th November at the Castle Ward farmyard, County Down.

Mars will come into its Opposition on November 7, 2021 in constellation Aries. A week earlier, on October 30, 2005, the planet will have come to its closes distance to Earth this year: 69.42 million km (43 million miles, or 0.46406 AU). Mars will be high in the Southern sky and will be a lot better for observing through a telescope than the opposition of 2003 as this will be the best time to view Mars until 2016.

Friday evening began with Ed Barnett giving us a talk on Mars and its features, history and unique characteristics.

There was a short spell of cloud after the presentation but this cleared quickly and we setup our telescopes and began to take in the skies. The skies started very transparent and then were slightly hazy after that. Mars shone brightly throughout the evening and everyone got a good view of it, though highlights were some of the lesser known star clusters and galaxies on view. There were a number of visitors who had telescopes and were doing some wide field astrophotography as the Milky Way was beautifully structured at the beginning of the evening. Mars showed its details well with the polar cap and dark and red markings visible.

On Saturday evening, the weather was favourable again for observing, but this time there was little wind and the seeing was quite steady. There was a layer of high cloud that prevented viewing deep sky objects but we were rewarded with an amazing view of Mars. After the talk, we gathered in the farmyard and set up the telescopes. The skies cleared quickly to reveal the Milky Way, and a few naked eye galaxies and star clusters. Mars did not disappoint either. The southern polar cap was visible as well as Candor Chasma - one of the largest canyons in the Valles Marineris canyon system and an unconfirmed glimpse of Olympus Mons.

Metcheck forecast for Castle Ward

BBC forecast for Castle Ward

Directions or try MapQuest
From Belfast, take the A24 towards Newcastle, Carryduff. At the Carryduff roundabout take the 1st exit A7 to Saintfield. Continue straight through Saintfield and Crossgar on the A7 to Downpatrick. At the end of the road, take a left and then right onto the A25 to Strangford. Keep on this road for approximately 10 miles. The entrance to Castle Ward is on the left with a Book Fair sign. The driveway will take you straight past Castle Ward house and the stables towards the farmyard. There will be signposts to direct you to the car park.

Click here to load a high quality map of Castle Ward


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Last Updated : Sunday, November 6, 2021

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