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

Apr 012010

a brief Captifier update, no April Fool’s joke:
A new machine is up and running, the development continues. The GUI got an overhaul, a setup dialog is implemented, bits’n pieces done, getting closer…

Captifier 20100331

Click for full size

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 182010

the Captifier development went pretty well the last days, a nice setup dialog is done, functionality growing towards a first usable version and…
… my develpment machine died today :( The graphics section of the laptop is dead, looks like a total write-off. I’m currently backing up all data, development is stalled until I have a replacement machine up and running. Needless to say how I hate that so please excuse my french… Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans… ;)

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

Mar 052010


a short page update – I added an ephemeris chart for venus 2010:

Click for full version

Nothing too spectacular, next max. eastern elongation with good imaging opportunities will happen in august.

Cheers, oliver

Mar 022010

Captifier is getting closer to something roughly usable, slow but steady ;)
Some bugs that sneaked into the concept after restructuring the thread-concept have been fixed, the histogram is working, the magnifier is working…
Here another sneak screenshot, please disregard the temporary buttons…

Click to enlarge


Feb 242010


sometimes it’s helpful to write down your goals to keep track of them in a busy life. Ok, here my imaging and astronomy related goals for 2010:

  • Image Mercury
    The quick messenger of the gods is a hard nut to crack due to it’s small apparent diameter and close elongation to the sun but there are a number of days around the maximum elongation periods that offer best conditions to image mercury in daylight. I never imaged mercury before and am curious if I’ll be able to capture some surface details. Mercury is very fast on it’s orbit around the sun but rotates very slow around it’s own axis. It’s possible to capture thousands of frames within several hours and select the best of them for stacking. Using an IR-pass filter or red filter helps to increase contrast during daylight and tame the seeing.
  • Image Saturn
    Saturn opposition 2010 is coming soon. I hope that weather is getting much much better than it has been over the last months.
  • Solar imaging
    The currently beginning solar activity cycle should provide interesting targets to image the sun in white-light, CaK and H-alpha. I should finish the upgrade of my PST to a larger aperture.
  • Lunar imaging
    Nothing much to write. If the opportunity is there, I’ll be imaging :)
  • Captifier
    A first working test version has to be in place soon. Constant development will follow.

Let’s see what turned out to be realistic at the end of the year…

Solong & cheers,

Feb 232010

quick update: I added a mercury 2010 chart to the ephemerides. Quite a lot opportunities to image mercury at max. elongation during daylight – I’m looking forward to the messenger of the gods.

Click for details

Cheers, Oliver