We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


Is this beautiful or what?

(Labelled version here. Descriptions of how the Hubble Space Telescope took the photo here).

(Link via slashdot).


This infrared image taken by the UK Infrared Telescope in Hawaii is claimed to be one of the sharpest ground-based photos of Mars ever taken. (Descriptions here and labelled version here).

Sadly, I think that the position of Samizdata’s representative in the first hundred may already be filled.

Further Update:

Having just adopted the advanced astronomical technique of opening my window and looking in a vaguely easterly direction, I have to agree with Dale that Mars is extraordinarily bright, particularly given that it is only about 30 degrees above the horizon right now, and I am in the middle of the light pollution of a metropolitan area of eleven million people. I will go out and have another look in a few hours when it is directly overhead, and I have to go somewhere on the weekend where there are fewer lights. I also have to take careful note of what other planets are viewable and where they are in the sky, as the comparison is no doubt interesting.

10 comments to Mars

  • Andy Duncan

    Top work, Michael! 🙂

  • Kit Taylor

    Blimey O’Reily!

    Forget about the face and the pyramid, who put that whacking great black X on the red planet?

  • Michael Hiteshew

    My oldest daughter and I took my 6 inch (150mm) reflector telescope out Sunday night to view Mars. The evening was cool and the sky crystal clear.
    There’s a small lake about ten minutes away which seemed like the perfect spot. We initially set up on the South side of the lake and viewed the double star Albeirio. It was beautiful – topaz and azure stars in orbit around each other against a background of glittering pinpoints of light. We then viewed the Ring Nebula; looking like a gray, wispy smoke ring hovering in space.
    We also took turns scanning the Milky Way with binoculars. If you’ve never done that simple thing, I highly recommend it. And if you EVER get the opportunity to do it from a truly dark site (the deserts of Arizona or Nevada spring to mind) DO NOT pass it up. It’s truly a stunning and memorable experience.
    After looking at the sky map in my copy of Astonomy magazine, I realized we needed a view of the Southern sky. Standing against the trees on the South of the lake, our view was blocked. We drove around to the opposite side in a few minutes. As we carried the scope, binoculars, a bottle of juice, etc. towards the lake I immediately began searching the sky for Mars. I needn’t have bothered.
    I’ve never seen Mars look like that. Mars is usually a faint, reddish, star-like object. Unless you’re keeping up month to month with the positions of the planets, you need a sky map to find it. Sunday night Mars was like a beacon of orange light hanging in the Southern sky.
    While the sky clear, the upper atmosphere was somewhat turbulent. Mars was swimming in and out focus as we viewed it. The south polar cap was clearly visible, appearing as a bright ellipse at the top of the Martian disc. Dark surface markings were detectable, barely. For fleeting moments the planet would snap clearly into focus, the go back the swimming image, leaving faint impressions in the mind. We had a great time.

  • Notice that the bottom of the X is very close to being a circular arc. The reason for this is obvious once you notice that. The Hellas Basin is an impact crater. Just imagine what the collision that caused it must have been like.

    I absolutely have to get out of London somewhere on the weekend to look at Mars.

  • Ron

    I’ve just been looking at Mars through the South London street-light haze.

    I got out the telescope I was given as a child (50x60mm) and eventually managed to get Mars in view.

    To be truthful, it wasn’t particularly impressive – just a very small orange blob with a greenish halo. I couldn’t get a sharp image.

    Whilst I’m glad I did it, I think that amateur viewing for more than 2 minutes is a waste of time compared to the professionals’ pictures.

  • The First Hundred? Are you a lover of the Martian Trilogy by Kim Robinson?

  • myron

    I’ve just got one thing to say, Mars IS NOT RED! It is orange, or sometomes yellow orange, or a litttle bit green. I’ve looked into the sky and seen a star twinkle red one night and not do so again. I’ve remembered it ever since. Now that was red.

  • Is everythig peaceful and serene on Horsell Common?

  • Joan

    Mars is beautiful here too. Owing to wild windstorms we’ve had power blackouts so our street lights have been out for several evenings, just right for viewing the planet. We don’t need to get out of Austinmer for the weekend.

  • Joan: Hi Mum. You also have my telescope in the house somewhere, too. I’ve been rather wishing I had it here.

    _earth: They are a set of books that I like some parts of more than others. I like the scale of the things that were going on, the descriptions of Mars are great, I like some of the characters, but the ideas about economics and politics are fairly silly. Certainly they are what I was referring to, yes.