Fourth Rock from the Sun
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The orbits of the Planets around the Sun are elliptical (not circular). Because of this, each time the Earth and Mars get close together, they pass each other at varying distances. In the Summer of 2003, It worked out that Mars and the Earth passed closer to each other than at any other time in the past 60,000 Years.

The top row of images below were taken in July and September of 2003, using the simple method of mounting a digital camera (with an ordinary lens) in line with the telescope eyepiece and firing away.

Over 200 image frames were taken during each session, and for each image, 50 or so of the best frames were stacked together to improve image quality.

These were taken from an elevation of about 7000 ft. in the Chiricahua mountains near Portal, AZ.

July 7, 2003

September 3, 2003

January 10, 2010 - results not so good...

February 8, 2010 - a little better

These images were taken from mid-town Tucson. Image at above, right is over processed, a result of not having enough frames for a good integration.

Elevation, atmospheric conditions and light pollution do matter.

Mars in early 2010 was almost 50% farther away than during the Summer of 2003.