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.
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.
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.