Mars 2005-2010

I’m not an experienced Mars observer.  My sketches certainly reflect that lack of experience. The works of planetary observers such as Sol Robbins, Carlos Hernandez, and Kris Smet (to name a few) have been an inspiration to me, and I’m hopeful to spend more time with Mars during the next apparition and even purchased a new set of Mars filters at NEAF this year in anticipation.

To set the bar for improvement, here are my sketch observations from 2005-2010. Pitifully few as they are, I have observed Mars far more than I took the time to record my observations.  I really struggled with seeing the subtle details at first and then struggled even more rendering them true to contrast on paper while sketching with just a little head lamp in the dark next to my telescope.  Obviously, Mar’s features aren’t nearly at contrasty as what my earlier sketches portray.

The pastel sketch was my latest and I feel my best rendering so far. The use of color seemed to bring out the subtle details easier than using contrast in monochrome.

The following report came from one of my past observations. I have to smile (and roll my eyes) at the flamboyancy the report I had written.   Still, I can remember to this day how enjoyable that session was.

2005 09 05

Mars Sept 05 2005

Finally! Before everyone gets the wrong idea, I have viewed Mars before….but that’s a huge difference than actually sitting down for over 3 hours and actually studying it. Which is exactly what I did this morning.


At 4:15am an internal alarm went off in my body and I sat straight up in bed and looked at the clock. Was I too tired to get up? Well maybe I should take a look outside before I make up my mind. So a little stroll outside with the dogs made my mind up quickly. It was beautiful and crystal clear. Paul was such a sweetheart, waking up too to help me set up (actually he set up nearly everything while I looked up recent threads in the sketching forum for tips to use this session).


The Big Fella (10″ LX200) was to accompany me this morning, along with a 3xBarlow, 20mm & 8mm EP’s, and a diagonal. Also used were 3 different filters, used separately from each other. The first 30 minutes of the session was used to begin my outline of the sketch as the scope was not cooled down enough for a crisp view. But gradually Mars’ surface cleaned up enough that mares Chronium, Sirenum and Cimmerium could be drawn. Changing filters, more features were added. And then final details with the 8mm, changing filters yet again.


Taking a quick break for another cup of coffee and stretching out my back and legs, I was now ready for another plunge into Mars. It was so peaceful outside, moving my chair now and again more to the East as The Big Fella turned his face more to the West, tracking Mars steadily for me. Time seemed to swiftly pass by and the more engrossed I was in the view, the more detailed it became.


Birds were now starting to wake up…Cardinals always seem to be the first to sing their songs. And as I looked up from the EP, the sky was becoming light blue with Sol on its way. There was still time to enjoy Mars and I planned to enjoy my little holiday as long as I could.


Morning had finally ended my session, and as I drifted back to Earth, I wondered at the name Mars. With the peacefulness and enjoyment I had with him this morning, being named after the god of war somehow didn’t seem appropriate. But who am I to question the Gods?

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~ by Erika Rix on July 1, 2010.

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