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And a follow up story on Mars, Bad news is brewing...

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  • blackstar7us
    Planetary Activity ================================================================== Veteran Mars observer Donald C. Parker reports that significant changes
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2003
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      Planetary Activity

      Veteran Mars observer Donald C. Parker reports that significant
      have taken place on Mars in the last 48 hours. "I'd call it a dust
      not a dust storm," he advises. "Let's hope it stays put!"

      Beginning on July 1st, Parker noticed a marked weakening, or
      lightening, of
      the conspicuous dark feature Syrtis Major in images taken with his 16-
      Newtonian reflector in Coral Gables, Florida. Yet just the previous
      another Mars expert, Jeffrey D. Beish, had described Syrtis Major as
      and normal when viewed visually with his own 16-inch at Lake Placid,
      Florida. Parker also noticed some bright ochre spots rimming the
      basin and partially obscuring the Iapygia region (between Hellas and
      Major). Similar spots around Hellas had been imaged by Texas amateur
      Grafton on June 28th.

      By early this morning, July 2nd, it was clear that something major
      taking place. Parker noted that the isolated clouds he'd seen over
      the night before had coalesced and expanded to form one cloud, bright
      viewed in red light. The coalescing cloud is on the side of the
      planet that
      can currently be studied most easily from the Americas. It is
      centered at
      Martian latitude 25 degrees south, longitude 294 degrees west.

      "It's scary. This is almost a repeat of what happened in 2001," says
      Parker. "But with Mars, who knows? Maybe we'll get lucky and it will
      go away. We should know in a day or two."

      Parker credits Beish, former Mars recorder for the Association of
      Lunar and
      Planetary Observers, with having predicted this localized event
      almost to
      the day. In Beish's view the dust cloud is unlikely to become
      Rather, it may be the precursor of a global dust storm that Beish
      feels is
      a distinct possibility for September.

      SKY & TELESCOPE's guide to this year's Mars apparition appeared in
      our June
      2003 issue. An abridged version is on our Web site:

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