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.
I haven’t posted much lately, mostly due to the clouds that have taken over the Adirondacks. I did get a clear night a few days before Halloween, and I also got my Logitech C250 webcam which I got to try out that night. I got it setup so I can attempt planetary, but clouds have gotten in the way of this. I happened to get the moon in about 11 sections, then stitched them together to create a moon Mosaic. I’m not extremely happy with the way it turned out, I still have a bit of playing around to do to get it down, but I figure I’ll share what I did come up with. I do notice that with my DSLR taking a full image of the moon after cropping I get an image that is roughly 1173×1095, and with the webcam making a mosaic the full image is roughly 1565×1756, so there is a benefit to doing this with the webcam, now I just have to master the capturing, stitching, and editing of the image to get a final result. I bit more work in the process, but the final image is much larger.
Above is two images of what needs to be done to set up a webcam for imaging through a telescope. This will come in very handy for live streaming via Google+ of the moon and planets. May also be good to show off some sunspots during the day. If you’re on G+ please feel free to follow me there: Mike Rector or on Twitter: @AdirondackAstro where I will share links to any live videos, or previously recorded ones.
One other thing I notice is that no matter how well I focus, craters and detail on the moon just aren’t as sharp as they are with the DSLR. Even when editing the videos in Registax, the sharpness seems to be a bit soft. Like I said though, some more playing around may give me better results. For such a cheap webcam, can be found between $5-$10 dollars on Amazon (click through the link on the sidebar), I really can’t complain. I’m looking forward to getting some Jupiter images this winter.
93% Waxing Gibbous Moon Mosaic - 10-26-12
Image above was taken with the webcam in 11 sections, stacked in registax, stitched together in Hugin, and then brought back into registax to adjust the wavelets to sharpen up some of the details. As you can see there are some issue with a few sections of the craters, and just an overall softness that I’d like to try to get rid of for my next moon mosaic. All programs mentioned are free.