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Mars' Olympus Mons?

Started by ronbee, 02/26/2003 07:26AM
Posted 02/26/2003 07:26AM Opening Post
Olympus Mons on Mars is the largest volcano known in the solar system at 5500 km (roughly the size of Arizona). At opposition of 25.1 arcsec and equatorial diameter of Mars at 6800km, it means that 270km is approx. 1". Since Olympus Mons is 550km wide, I speculate that it should be visible through an 8" Newt and at least as a dot with my 4" TV-102 APO.

Has anyone seen Olympus Mons? If so, will it be possible with the 4" aperture? If not, why not?

Thanks,
Ron B[ee]
Posted 02/26/2003 12:49PM #1
I don't think so because it is similar in color to the surrounding area. A combinitation of small size and lack of contrast would render it invisible.

However, if it had a hood of clouds when you tried to observe it, you may be able to see that.

OTOH, I wonder if someone with a very large scope under miraculously good seeing conditions might detect it...

Attached Image:

mad_astronomer's attachment for post 65278

"Though parted by a gulf more impassable than any sea, the telescope lets us traverse what otherwise had been barred and lands us at last above the shores we went forth to seek. Real the journey is, though incorporeal in kind. Since the seeing strange sights is the essence of all far wanderings, it is as truly tavel so the eye arrive as if the body kept it company." Pervcival Lowell
Posted 02/26/2003 01:58PM #2
Hi, Ron.

If memory serves, Olympus has been imaged via CCD at premier observatories (Pic du Midi, for one, I think) as an extremely faint very-low-contrast "blemish." Images of Olympus-hugging orographic clouds have also been recorded. Not sure if anyone has actually *seen* the feature (or clouds thereupon), but conditions *and* equipment would surely have to be optimum.

As Greg noted, it's Olympus's ultra-low contrast (with surrounding plains) which keeps it hidden.

Best wishes.
-Dan