Apr 152010


Emil Kraaikamp release the first public version of his stacking tool AutoStakkert yesterday. I tried the tool with my Mars captures from April 10th. The results are a tad better than those obtained before, the contrast in the red and green channel images is noticeably higher. Quite impressing since I used the tool for the very first time. The GUI is clean and pretty self explaining and I like the functionalities: All you need to stack planetary images (without multipoint alignment) is there, the user is not bothered with things not useful.
Here the result:

Excellent tool,thanks Emil!

Cheers, Oliver

Apr 132010


finally some decent seeing. Skies have been clear on the evening of April 10th so I set up the already cooled C11 at dusk. Contrary to the forecast the seeing looked quite good this time during collimation of the scope and some quick glances at Mars. Just after I fired up the laptop and camera clouds rolled in and obscured the only 8.5″ measuring Mars. Waiting a while was rewarded by clear views again. The session was interrupted several times by clouds but later the skies stayed finally clear. I started to image Mars with a 2.5x Powermate delivering true f/25 with the C11 and tried the Meade #140 2x barlow later delivering a longer effective focal length (!) than the Powermate behind the motor-focusser and filterwheel since it’s not telecentric like the Powermate.
Processing the first set of RGB captures shows that my estimation of the seeing was quite right, results are better than those of April 6th, no artefacts beside the diffraction artefacts at the bright limb.
I slewed over to Saturn after imaging Mars but some preliminary results aren’t on par at all with the Mars material. Maybe seeing degraded (again), maybe the lower altitude of Saturn was quite critical this evening. The main benefit for the Mars captures compared to Saturn should have been the much shorter integration times freezing the seeing. The Mars AVIs show only a single very good frame surrounded by much more blurred ones from time to time.
Here the first Mars result, not too shabby for 8.5″. More to come…

Mars 2010.04.10.

Cheers, Oliver

Apr 102010

Hi there,

the night of April 6th looked promising, skies perfectly clear and the seeing forrecast was excellent. I set the C11 up at dusk, collimating the scope at a star showed only mediocre to fair seeing. I started imaging the only 8.8″ measuring Mars after a short visual glance at Mercury and Venus low above the horizon. Seeing was quite unsteady, Mars jumped a lot with a high frequency but there seemed to be very short sharp moments inbetween. Seeing deteriorated constantly over the session – maybe due to the quickly falling temperatures – and quite strong winds arose later and blew the planet of the CCD quite often.
I originally planned to image Saturn after midnight but gave up the plan and gave it a try after Mars but gave up after only two AVIs due to seeing and the winds constantly blowing Saturn out of the capture window…
I was quite surprised when I processed the Mars AVIs of that night: Imaging with short integration times resulted in quite sharp frames in the AVIs packed between many blurred ones. Olympus Mons and the Tharsis Vulcanoes are visible in all channels, there’s nice dust over the Tharsis planes at the morning terminator.
The subsequent Mars AVIs are yet to be processed but some quick processings show that they are not on par with the first ones. The Saturn AVIs are not really worth spending time with them…

Cheers, Oliver

Mar 252010

Tuesday seemed to be a good opportunity to image the moon: Skies have been clear with some haze, usually a sign of pretty good seeing. I set the C11 up on the terrace, collimated and fired up the camera and have been able to shoot exactly 2 AVIs until the already quite bad transparency dropped to nowhere due to high altitude haze and mist and the quite good seeing went accordingly.
I processed the first AVI of Rima Hyginus shot in a hurry and am surprised how good the outcome still is considering the circumstances. The second AVI of Triesnecker and it’s surrounding rilles is already too bad. I tried some more shots of high contrast features along the terminator but gave up soon. I’m confident that the imaging setup is capable of producing excellent results in better conditions.
The image is reduced to 90% of the capture site to accommodate for the seeing conditions:

Cheers, Oliver

Mar 102010

after the long long dryspell a number of clear nights finally allowed imaging the beloved planets :) This time I managed to grab a number of AVIs of Saturn using the colour filters before clouds rolled in (again). Unfortunately seeing was much worse than on march 4th but I don’t complain.

Click for full version

The RG-RGB version shown her features 70%R/30%G as luminance, oddly enough the differences to the plain RGB version are marginal. I tried to use an orange filter to shoot a luminance-channel with shorter integration times but the seeing distorted the image observably more than using the narrowband R filter. The advantage of 1/30s vs. 1/23s didn’t pay off, the orange results are worse than R results indicating the quality of seeing …
The north polar regions shows an interesting blue-grey-turquoise tint, it should be interesting to watch as the planet tilts  further.

Cheers, Oliver

Mar 082010

hooray, my first Saturn image of the coming season :) Finally  some clear skies again with reasonable seeing on march 4th. I was out to image Mars in the first place (results still to be processed…) but slewed over to the rising Saturn at the end of the very cold season. Seeing has been surprisingly good for Saturn at only 30° altitude. Unfortunately clouds rolled in (again…) and I could capture only one single red filtered AVI before the lord of the rings became way too dim to image.

Click for framed version with detailed information

The result is not too shabby regarding the low altitude and the capture circumstances.
I’m currently trying alternative sharpening functions beside the good old Registax wavelets and obtained best results here using the iterative gauss sharpening from Fitswork.
Ok, Saturn season has started and I’m looking forward to less frosty imaging sessions that might yield in some coloured images ;)

Cheers, Oliver

Feb 212010

skies have been clear around 21:00 last night but until I had setup and collimated the already cooled C11 clouds rolled in again. Seeing was not bad at all but I managed to shoot only 1 AVI with 1400 frames with the red filter before skies were completely covered and first snow flakes started to fall :( This Mars opposition isn’t mine…
I used 700 frames of the only AVI and processed the stack differently than I usually do, not too bad considering the circumstance.

Click for larger version

Cheers, Oliver

Jan 292010

Hi there,

finally: My first mars image of the season 2009/2010, captured shortly before opposition. Weather has been the worst I can imagine since I image the planets this winter, snow, rain, clouds… Finally a night with clear skies on the 26th. I could only image from my patio this time that had to be cleaned from a lot of snow, meaning that I could only image mars a few hours before culmination. Temperatures reached -16°C at 23:00 when I stopped imaging, frosty!
Seeing looked good at first glance, the image was quite stable and not moving a lot. Unfortunately the image was quite fuzzy and lacked definition, most likely caused by the cold front that passed shortly before. Another drawback was the damage of my motor focusser that happened when I took the C11 out of its crate. I didn’t notice the non-functionality of the device until I tried to focus the camera image – too late for fixing it so I had to focus manually.

I don’t like IR-RGB image composites but in this case it was the only way to obtain a reasonable sharp color image. The IR image suffered the less from seeing, the red capture is already showing way less details illustrating the seeing quality very well.

A distinct haze is visible north of the Tharsis region over Tempe and Arcadia.

Weather forecasts are very disappointing for the next days, I hope to get some more mars captures shortly after opposition…

Cheers, Oliver

Dec 232009

Hi all,

I observed a strange lunar transit last night…Lunar Transit

A happy holiday season to all!

Best wishes,

Nov 302009

Hi there,

I haven’t been able to do some real imaging for quite a while. During some indoor camera testing I found a couple of unprocessed lunar AVIs on my imaging laptop that I have captured 2009.01.06. and started to remember: Seeing was quite bad, I tried to image Plato with the C11 and a 2x barlow but gave up soon – no steady image at all – the evidentiary AVI is still on my disk. I stepped down and plugged the DMK2104AF directly into the focus of the C11 to capture at least some low resolution shots for a mosaic. I started at Plato and worked my way over to Sinus Iridum, across Mare Imbrium to Archimedes, Copernicus and the terminator. The result is quite chaotic but considering the conditions (seeing, it was really frosty and I had to clear a lot of snow prior to imaging and a nasty influenza was already on its way inside me…) I’m happy I processed the already forgotten footage. The Hortensius Domes east of Copernicus came out quite nice.

Please click the preview image for the full capture size

The mosaic is a 8 patch piece, each patch is a stack of 156 from 4444 frames in AVIStack. I’m a little unsure about the tonal balance since I processed the image on a new display. Any feedback is highly appreciated!

Best wishes & clear skies,