BAA E-Circular 00100 – 2003 May 15

At the time of writing, the planet is showing a large bright S. polar cap, which has been free from its overlying hood for several weeks now. A short account of recent observations will appear in the June BAA Journal.

      Ls on May 11 was 183 degrees, so we are now at the start of spring in the southern hemisphere of the planet. It is important to bear in mind that this marks the start of the ‘dust storm season’ in that hemisphere, and so a dust storm could occur at any time. Major storms arise either in Hellas, or around Solis Lacus (Solis Planum), or both. In 2001 a planet-encircling storm began very soon after the start of southern spring. Although the seasonal dates of storms in one martian year do not seem to be related to those in subsequent years, it may be possible that the planet is now returning to a period of greater dustiness in southern spring and summer. Therefore members of the Section should begin work immediately if they have not already done so. Observing before dawn on the mornings of May 10 and 13 the Director (41-cm Cassegrain) found the Hellas basin dull and not yet dust active.

      All types of observation will be welcome. So far there have been many images received from abroad, but almost nothing from the UK. Drawings by post, please. CCD work by e-mail. All messages and letters will be answered. Good observing!

Richard McKim, Director

2003 May 15

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