The video that was used to create this image was acquired on a night with very favorable atmospheric conditions. Seeing was very good, I would call it 4 out of a maximum of 5, and I can't take credit for that. I can take credit for having spent many hours imaging the planets with my telescopes and webcam, so when these great atmospheric conditions presented, I was able to take advantage of them. I had long since worked out all the mechanical details - collimation, focus, acquistion parameters, etc., so setting up and getting started that night was a simple, predictable excercise. But as I acquired the first video I could tell it was not like other nights. As the video steamed in from the webcam I could easily make out the northern polar cap and varied surface brightness, which I had seen through the eyepiece but never before in my webcam videos of Mars.
I appreciate the kind comments and I am pleased with this image. I encourage everyone who has an interest in planetary imaging to get out and do it, so you will be ready when the time is right. Mars is receding now, but will be positioned favorably for a few more weeks, and Saturn is approaching its opposition on March 21. Though Saturn's ring tilt angle is low now and still decreasing, it is nevertheless a great subject with an unbeatable WOW factor!