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Astronomy for the Beginner or User of Small Telescopes

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Planet Data for Amateur Astronomers

Below you can select a planet (or the moon) and get a page worth of information about the object, like size, mass, distance, angular size when viewed, etc. I find it makes my viewing more enjoyable, knowing more about the object I'm viewing. Incidentally, on this web page Pluto is still considered a planet.


Mercury
Venus
Earth
Moon
Mars
Jupiter
Saturn
Uranus
Neptune
Pluto



The Popularity of Planetary Viewing

The Amateur Astronomer Survey shows that planetary observing is one of the amateur astronomers' favorite pastimes. I know it is certainly one of my favorite pastimes. I think I enjoy observing planets because they are challenging, with each tantalizing detail a morsel for which you must work hard. Also, planets present more dynamic targets. For Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, the times you view deliver different delectable details, such has moon positions for Jupiter and Saturn, the Great Red Spot for Jupiter, Saturn's rings which vary in tilt, and the fleeting details of the surface of Mars.

The following images, taken with modest sized amateur telescopes and a Celestron NexImage Solar System Imager. Movies of the objects were taken and processed with imaging stacking software. The amazing details obtained illustrate why planetary and lunar astronomy are so compelling. When you see some of the details of the objects, it makes the details you see or photograph seem even more amazing.

For example, doesn't this image of Mars whet your appetite? It was taken in 2016 with a modest Meade Instruments ETX90 Observer Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope in 2016, when Mars had an apparent size of only 18 arc-seconds. Doesn't the image beg questions about how big is Mars, how does it's gravity compare with Earth's, and other facts? Click on Mars above and find out those facts and many, many more.

Mars with ETX 90

Mars with ETX 90

Or, if that doesn't get your lunar/planetary curiosity aroused, how about this view of Albategnius Crater, captured here with a Celestron NexStar 5 SE Telescope. Much more detail than on the Mars image, right? But what about the Moon? How big is it, does it have a magnetic field, how far away is it? Click on the Moon above, and find out.

Albategnius Crater with Nexstar 5SE

Albategnius Crater with Nexstar 5SE