Another Night With Jupiter

Last night I got out under the stars for another attempt at imaging Jupiter with my modded Logitech Webcam C250, and I tried out a new piece of free webcam software for astronomy called FireCapture. FireCapture seems to be a pretty good software, especially for the price of free!

Three features it has that I quite enjoy, and am glad it has is the AutoAlign feature keeping the planet or moon image right in the center so that the object in the final video is centered instead of all over the place due to bad tracking, atmospheric disturbance, or a gust of wind. I really like having the histogram on screen, now all I have to do is find the sweet spot on the histogram with my adjustments. Another handy feature is an option to turn on a tiny view of where the 4 Galilean moons are around Jupiter. It doesn’t give a time as to when a moon transits Jupiter, but the visual gives you a good enough idea whether or not it will happen. All in all I’m quite happy with FireCapture as my webcam software.

I would like to see if I can somehow get AstroSnap software to work on my Vista laptop because of all of the features it provides. That software isn’t free, but if I could get it to work enough to test out the features I feel that it would be well worth the $45 dollars to invest into it.

Jupiter 11-23-12

Here is the stack of Jupiter from a 2 minute and 20 second long video stacked and processed within Registax with a 2x drizzle to make the final result 2x larger than the recorded video. I believe I need to make more adjustments to my gain or my brightness to get rid of that inner ring around Jupiter, but for my 3rd image of Jupiter I’m quite pleased even with this artifact.

Jupiter and Moons

This past week has been exceptionally clear every night, with the exception of Monday night, and it looks like it will remain clear up until Saturday night then the clouds will come in throughout Sunday. I have spent quite a few hours each night under the stars getting images of deep space objects taking full advantage of the moonless nights. Due to it being so clear I haven’t had much time to go through any of the deep space objects yet, but I have had a few shots at Jupiter with some pretty decent results. I’ve also done a few time-lapse videos which I’ll post over the next couple of days.

My first night attempting to image Jupiter I didn’t quite get the results I was looking for, but I went out again last night (November 15), and was able to pull off some pretty sweet video to use for stacking. I did a total of 4 videos, and I did a hangout on Google+ where I had a few folks pop in for a view. One of the guys that popped in helped me make a few adjustments to my view of Jupiter as far as gain and brightness go which was a big help since my laptop monitor was showing it really bright, but the end results were excellent.

Jupiter with Io popping out from behind to the left, and Europa off to the right.

Above is Jupiter with the moon Io popping out from behind Jupiter to the left, and way off to the right you can seen the icy moon Europa. This is the side of Jupiter that doesn’t contain the great red spot, but you can still see some dark markings along the cloud bands. Hoping I get a chance for the red spot tonight which should happen around the early AM hours. The image is small, but the frame size of my webcam is 640×480, and my focal length of the telescope is only 750mm. Not the best telescope for planetary, but you can still get some great results with the Omni XLT 150 reflector.

This stack is from a 2 minute long .avi video taken with a freeware called SharpCap using the Logitech C250 webcam I posted about the other day in a 2x Barlow lens, and the video was brought into Registax to stack, and sharpen using Wavelets. As I said, I did a few different stacks of the same image, but I was not too happy with the drizzle affect which makes the object 2x larger. Seemed to lose some of the detail.

The Venus and Jupiter Conjunction

On March 11, 2012 I went out to get some images of the Venus and Jupiter conjunction. That was the last really good clear night that I had the chance to image it. Over the past few days from March 10-15 the two planets got closer and closer in the sky reaching a distance, from our view, of 3°. They remained at that distance for a few days, but now Jupiter is slowly getting lower in the West after sunset, and Venus is at it’s greatest elongation which means it’s as far away from the sun and as high in our sky as it’s going to get. Here are a few pictures I took on the 11th of the two planets.

This bottom picture shows Venus and Jupiter after sunset with the Pleiades and the Hyades up and to the left.
Venus is also on it’s way to being within the Pleiades cluster, Messier 45, which will take place from April 1-4. Hoping for clear skies on at least one of those days for a nice view of this conjunction through the telescope.
I have created a Google Calendar displaying events worth looking for in the sky for anyone without a telescope. I know it’s a bit late for the March calendar, but I should have April added to the calendar by the end of the weekend. I may also start adding weekly objects to look for through a small telescope or a pair of binoculars.

Venus, Jupiter, M38 and NGC 1907

On February 29, 2012 I had my first go at prime focus astrophotography. I only had a short amount of time to try it out. Using a Canon 350D is a bit difficult because there is no Live View mode (viewing on the screen) so I had to focus the telescope while looking through the tiny view finder. Focusing this way is very difficult due to the stars being hard to see, and the few stars I could see were hard to tell if they were actually in focus. After fiddling around for a little bit trying to get the focus just right, I settled where I was and took a few shots.

The image is still out of focus, but I figured I’d still share my first attempt with this type of astrophotography here. I either need to find a serial cable that is compatible with the Canon 350D so I can use Backyard EOS to focus, or I need to invest in a 90° finder that clips onto the view finder and allows a 1.5x-2x zoom to help focus on dim objects.

M38 is an open cluster in the constellation Auriga. The stars are about 4200 light-years away from Earth, and is about 220 million years old. The diameter of this open cluster is roughly 25 light-years. NGC 1907 is a dimmer open cluster that is about 4500 light-years away from Earth that contains about 50 stars and is over 500 million years old.

M38 and NGC 1907. 4 images at 15sec. 1 dark frame, 1 flat frame. Click to enlarge.

Tonight before the clouds rolled in, right around sunset, I got out and got a few pictures of Jupiter and Venus close by in the sky. They will be closer tomorrow night (March 11) and we are predicted to have clear skies all night. So I leave you with one image from them tonight. Have a great weekend everyone, keep looking up, and clear skies!

Jupiter is the dimmer object on the left, and Venus is to it’s right shining bright. Click to enlarge.