Mars Video
This Mars video took about a month to capture.  Each of the 140 frames making up this video is an image captured about every 10 minutes.   Each image is comprised of about 100 images of Red Green and Blue color planes combined digitally.   Since Mars rotates 40 minutes slower each day than earth, imaging the planet at the same time of night about every 3rd or 4th night gives a complete rotation in about a month.  Several things to note while watching the video.  First the south polar cap is clearly visible on the top of the image (image is inverted vertically).  The polar cap seems to get larger and more pronounced as more of the water ice comes into view during the rotation.  Second, you can see some light whitish clouds on the east and western limbs of Mars.  Third, note the dark and light patches on the planet.  Some compare the lighter areas to lower "ocean" areas like on Earth and the darker areas to "contintents", however this is not correct.   The lighter and darker areas have little to do with topography or elevation, they are merely less or more reflective materials.   Darker areas have been mostly swept clean of dust so that you see the darker rocky material underneath.  Also since the images were captured at mars opposition (closest point) to earth, note that one side of the planet is darker early on in the video and the other side darker toward the end.   This is due to the fact that Mars is moving by the earth over the month's worth of images so the angle of the sun on Mars from Earth's perspective changed.  Also, because atmospheric seeing differed from night to night, some of the images are sharper  than others, hence the change in quality over time.
Optics: Celestron C11 F/11 (3100mm Focal Length) Date: August 2003
Camera: SBIG ST10XME with Adaptive Optics Location: Columbus, Texas
Exposure: RGB = 0.1, 0.1, 0.1 secs Imager: Kent E. Biggs