clear sky chart

Job 9:9

Job 9:9-10
9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
10 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jupiter With Well Adjusted Optics

I spent some more time adjusting the optics on the 6 inch dob tonight, and I think I got things a bit better.  I took a series of avi's, and was astounded with what I ended up with.  Seeing appeared to be quite good so long as I was not near the open end of the scope.  The temperature was about 20F (-7c), so any heat source near the scope messed things up.

I'm going to show you a few images of Jupiter that I took this evening.  Most consist of 1200 frame AVI's.

The bright spot on the left is Io's disk transiting the planet.  This was the first image I took.  As you can see, the detail is already better than anything I've done so far.  This was taken at 0110z on 12/29

Io's disk is moving more towards the center.  It is quite bright in these 2 images..  You can also see the wake behind the GRS in both images.  I just missed capturing the GRS.  This was taken at 0135z

The transit of Io is progressing even more towards the  meridian.  As you can see, the detail is still quite good.  This image was taken at 0145z

I believe this to be the best image of the evening.  For this image, I used the 3X barlow.  All of the others used the 2X.   This image was taken at 0151z

One more image I took, but clouds started moving in, and the brightness was constantly varying.  The detail on this last image is not so good because of the cloud cover, but I still wanted to capture the shadow of Io as it appeared on the disk.
The shadow is quite well resolved, but the disk of the moon is not visible.  The image is washed out some due to the clouds.  This final image was taken at 0235z.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Collimating on the Fly

Took the scope out to look at Venus, and what I saw was a horrible blob of light.  I de-focused and the defocused fuzz was chopped on one side.  I ended up moving the secondary towards the open end of the tube and re-aligned both mirrors.  By the time I got it aligned again, Venus was too low in the sky, so I turned to Jupiter.

Played with the alignment.  Its still wasnt perfect - the secondary is still too far back towards the primary, but it is better than it was.  Recentered the primary and shot some images of Jupiter.  They were average, nothing spectacular.  I had the hair brained idea to try the 3X barlow (3600mm f/l).  The image of Jupiter with the new gears on the Ponset was not moving - at all.  The image with the 3X was large and stayed pretty steady on the CCD.  I fired off an avi of 1200 frames, which I used them all in this image:

I cropped to 320X240.  The images with the 2X werent even close to this level of detail.  I'm curious what it'll do once I get the scope re-adjusted to where it should be, as the old 2X barlow were giving pretty good views up till recently.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tonight's Jupiter with Equipment Problems

Took the scope out for a session, and it does appear the alignment is off. I have to figure out what I'm doing wrong, something silly with the secondary mirror. It did not appear centered in the collimation eyepiece. After centering the mirror and adjusting it, the images have a nasty coma. I'm going to set it back to approximately where it was before I adjusted it and realign as best I can, as the scope appears to show better images the way it was. Anyway, one good thing came out of testing tonight, the Ponset platform appears to be working better. I re-geared the drive worm, and it appears to run smoother, and has very little periodic error now with the bigger gear on the worm screw. I ended up taking the refractor out and photographed with that. Because of all the color it shows, I ended up discarding all of the color information and made the final image monochrome. The image I ended up with wasnt too awfully bad, there is some reasonable detail here. This is probably one of the better images with the refractor. I took this image using the old 2X barlow - the same one I use on the newtonian. Being the focal length is only half, the image was quite small, so I resized it in Registax and ended up with this:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santbeck and Colombo Region

Took a few images of the moon on the morning of 12/13. This is an image of the craters Santbeck and Colombo area on the eastern limb.
This is also my first attempt at a mouse rollover.  If you roll over the image, the craters will be labelled.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wake Behind GRS

I took these photos last night (12/11 - morning of 12/12).  My optics were out of alignment, so I wasnt sure I was actually seeing what I was seeing in these images.  I've never seen anything like this before on Jupiter's disk, but behind the GRS is a very turbulent wake of massive swirls in the SEB...

Although the images overall arent of great quality, you can plainly see the wake following the great red spot.  Very interesting, and deserves watching.  I confirmed this by checking Christopher Go's latest images showing the same turbulence in extreme detail.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jupiter 12/12

Had another clear night, but tonight the seeing was terrible.  The reflector's optics were out of alignment, including the secondary, which I have no idea how it had gotten that way...  I spent about an hour aligning the telescope this afternoon.  Took it out after sunset to photograph Jupiter.  I got a few decent images, but the seeing and transparency were not good.  There were apparently breaks in the seeing where I was able to get good blur free images.  Here are a couple of the better pictures.....

Jupiter and the 4 galilean moons.  The moons from left to right are Europa, Ganymede, Io then jupiter, then Calysto, the dim one in the top right corner.

The Oval BA is plainly resolved.  Its the light colored small feature toward the bottom of the planet.

This image is downright incredible, especially the fact that it consists of only 250 frames!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jupiter 12/11

Was out with the scope photographing Jupiter and the moon.  Was experimenting with frame rates.  While I was photographing, the focuser broke.  The rack gear came undone from the shaft again.  Also, vaseline gets stiff when it gets I fixed it all up midway through the session.  Think I got a couple of decent photos.  Here are a few...

Seeing wasnt as good tonight as I'd liked, but these photos came out fairly decent.  The last image is a full frame.  The visible moon is Io.  Callisto is somewhat dimmer and not visible in this image, although it is in the field of view.

I went back out and snapped a few after the GRS came into view..  I also imaged at 15 fps, and stacked 1700 frames, however, the focus was off slightly.  I am going to try this again at 15 fps another night.
This image was taken at 15 FPS and used about 1700 frames.

This last image is about 1000 frames.  Notice the light area following the GRS.  It appears that this area is starting to settle down, as there seemed to be a lot of activity in this light area - swirls and texture.  It is starting to blur and appears to be less active now.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Crater Gauss

Shot some random pictures of the moon along the eastern limb, and captured this well detailed image of crater Gauss.  I normally dont do well on the extreme limb of the moon, but something must be right tonight, as I was able to take a couple good pictures of the eastern limb tonight.  Here is my photo of crater Gauss and vicinity.  It is not rotated quite correct, but the detail is very nice.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Grimaldi Crater

Again, the moon was low in the sky, but I finally captured Grimaldi Crater.  I believe I captured it long ago with the 70mm back when I started out.  This one came out ok...not fantastic, but its not bad....

Pythagoras Crater

The moon was relatively low when I took this image, I'm note sure what the weather is going to do, so I figured I should photograph what I can when I could.  I ended up taking this pretty decent shot of Pythagoras crater.....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Deslandres, Walter Area

I have been having trouble with the moon lately, not sure why, I think some of it is a focusing problem, however last night as I was out photographing Jupiter, I took a few shots of the moon.  This is one of my better ones, and still, I think I can do better.  This is the area around crater Walter (right of center).  The large crater is Deslandres.  Deslandres is the second largest crater on the moon's near side, and is 256 km in diameter.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

10 fps, 1000 Stacks

Well, I think I figured out the secret to eliminate the onion skin testure on my 10 fps stacks.  Photograph on the bright side.  The histogram was taken between 225 and 250 on all of the colors in WxAstroCapture.  Tonight's images were taken in 2 parts, the first set was taken around 2355Z, the 2nd set taken around 0310Z 12/4.
The detail is absolutely incredible.  I'll let you see for yourself.
The first batch, only one image was useable, but I processed 2 images from the same avi.  This one shows Io along with the disk.

Here is a closeup of the disk with slightly different wavelet and color settings.

Now for the 2nd set.  The 2nd set shows the GRS very well resolved, the gray ring around the GRS is plainly seen.  The turbulence following the GRS is quite apparent.
Again, the moon is Io.

This is basically the same image with a little post processing in Photoshop.

Finally, this is a different image, taken at 0316Z.  This one shows the turbulence a little better, as the GRS has moved a little across the disk.

I must say, I am quite pleased with the results.  Shooting with the planet much brighter than I'm used to made a big difference in reducing the onion skin effects, and with more frames, I can extract more detail.  Thanks for the tip, Joe!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jupiter 12/1 - Increased Capture Speed

A suggestion brought to me to decrease some of the contrast and perhaps bring out more detail on the planetary disk.  I thought I'd try doing a 10 fps capture with 1000 frames captured.  I think it'll help somewhat, however, at 10 fps, I'm getting an onion skin effect.  However, I think its going to work.  I also found that the poncet platform vibrates more when it gets cold out, and I believe my image4s would have been better if the vibration was 10 dB less.
Here is a sample of what I captured.  I had a lot of problems with the platform tonight, and many of the AVI's were unuseable.
This image was done at 10 fps, and you can see the onion skin effect creeping in on the left side of the image.  I think there would be more detail if the vibration problem wasnt there.  This used 1005 out of about 1200 frames.

This image also used about 1000 frames.

I took a few later in the evening, also at 10 fps.  The GRS was rising when I took the above images, so I wanted to take a few with it near the CM.

I believe this one turned out pretty good actually.

For grins, I thought I would try a cmos camera, as it is a bit newer and is capable of running a faster frame rate.  I couldnt get the color balance correct in Windows 7 however, so it did not come out real well, but it is showing some detail. 

Looks like I have some work to do.  I have some ideas to reduce the vibration in the platform, so hopefully the next time I photograph, it will be gone and the images will be better.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jupiter 11/30/2011

Seeing was somewhat better this evening, best its been in some time.   Began the evening photographong the moon, but being it was so cold out, the telescope needed to cool off.  By the time it had cooled, the moon was getting too low in the sky to do any good work, so I waited a couple hours and waited for Jupiter to get as high in the sky as it was going to get and I went and photographed it.  Seeing was quite good by looking at these pictures:

The first one seems a lil better.  I am getting more detail in the equatorial zone.  For some reason these images have quite a bit more contrast between the zones and bands,  and I'm not certain why.  These pictures were taken with the 6 inch dobsonian sitting atop the Ponset platform, both consist of about 500 frames stacked in Registax.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Some Photos Taken 11/21

I took a few more images than what I posted on 11/21.  Took these a little later in the evening, with the proper frame rate for good quality.  I think some of these are the best images of Jupiter I have taken so far.

This is a full frame.

I'm thinking this one is one of my best images of Jupiter to date.

This one also I think isnt bad, its a full frame image.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Jupiter 11/25 - Collimated the optics

I aligned the optics in the dob today and I think I have it pretty close now.  Took a few images, some are better than others.  I was able to capture Europa beginning its transit across the disk, as well as Ganymede to the left and Io on the right.

I believe Europa is the bright spot in the bottom left of the disk.

Here are a few more that I captured....
This one is a little noisy, not sure how many frames I used, but you can see Europa just beginning to transit the disk.

This one has some blur, I dont think I had the focus correct.  I'm still not certain about the Ponset,  It appears to jump around somewhat.  I must not have a bearing quite correct.  There may also be some vibration going on due to the stepper motor I'm using.

Jupiter 11/23

Had the scope out and took a few images with the dob on the platform.  It seems to work pretty well with the new motor, but the new motor with the worm gear has to run pretty close to top speed to track.  Here is a picture of the scope setup...

This is the dobsonian that I purchased at the state auction for $22.

This next image is one of Jupiter that was taken just after the above photo was taken.

There are 2 moons visible, I believe one is Io and the other is Europa.  As you can see, there is some detail, and was not too bad an image.  This image consisted of about 500 frames.

When I had the scope out, I also noticed that the scope's collimation was a bit off.  It is something that I'll have to take care of the next time I have it out.  Not sure how much better the images will be when its all adjusted correctly.

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Light With the Ponset Platform

As promised, I'm going to post the first image using the 6 inch dob and the Ponset platform.  There are some bugs in it, for one thing, the motor turns too fast and blurs the image if I slow it down so the image stays put, so I'll have to use a different stepper with a worm gear to drive the threaded rod.  I took this image quick, using 10 fps, and it has bad onion skinning, but the detail is pretty good.  T took 1000 frames and used most of them for this image:

This was the only image I was able to take, as it clouded up soon after.  It was partly cloudy when I took this image, which is why I only took the one at the faster frame rate.  Detail in the SEB is better.  The GRS looks like its about to rise, as you can see it on the western limb.  I was never able to resolve it that close to the edge before.  Once I get the bugs worked out, I believe this will be a very useful tool. 
I also didnt have it aligned quite right, as the image creeped upward on the screen.  It is probably an error in the construction as to the elevation of the north pole.  I'm not certain it can be totally fixed, but I will attempt to elevate the north side of the platform to correct the error.  This Ponset is a test platform.  Its pretty ugly, and i did hurry to build the wooden parts just to see if it works, which it appears to.  I may build another, while paying more attention to detail.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Poncet Platform

Because my main interest in astronomy is in photographing the planets, and I am having some success with the dobsonain, I thought I would build a Ponset platform.  I found this device online, and they are not too difficult to make.  Basically, it is a small platform that you sit your dob on which tracks the sky for about an hour or maybe hour and a half.  The design is too complex to do a complete description in a simple blog post, but a nice writeup is here -->

I dont fully understand all of the math involved, but they have to be designed for your lattitude, there is an Excel spreadsheet file here -->

I have not yet had the opportunity to test the mount, but the next clear night I will post photos of the results.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jupiter 11/10

I'm not sure, but I think the collimation is still a little off.  I'm not getting the resolution I was getting, and the focus appears to change ever so slightly as it wanders across the screen.  I'm going to have to aim at polaris and fine tune it... but in the meantime, I think I'll just go ahead and post this image:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Some Old Moon Pics - Taken 10/5

I did a blog post of the Appenine Mts on 10/5, but I took a lot more than just the Appenine's.  I found some really nice photos, all taken with the Dob, each only consists of about 20 frames or so, so I could not sharpen a whole lot...fortunately I didnt have to do much processing on them, they're quite sharp as they were.  The sharpening was lightly done, but still they came out good.

Here is Maginus Crater

 Here is one of the Straight Wall...

 I think these are probably the highest resolution images I have ever taken of the moon to date.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jupiter 1 Day Before Opposition

I was able to take some pictures of Jupiter 1 day before opposition.  There happened to be a transit of Io during my session, and I was going to create an animation, but I never got the focus quite right.  I'm thinking the objective is a little off of collimation in the refractor, as the focus varied across the field a little bit.  Since my animated frames didnt work out, I'll post the best of the frames here instead.