Try increasing gamma if dark sections aren't distinguished

Try increasing gamma if dark sections aren't distinguished

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Saturn and friends

caught saturn the other night with fair seeing
a number of moons were evident visually

visually i was able to see titan, tethys, reha and dione
stretching in photoshop brought out enceladus and surprisingly, faint hyperion up top.
mimas is lost in the glare just below the planet and iapetus is way off the field to the left

6/1/2014 costal peak park, newport beach, ca
Nexstar 8 GPS, ZWO ASI120MC camera
for disc close up
Shutter=9.560ms Gain=97 Gamma=50 104 fps
Shutter=29.53ms Gain=97 Gamma=88
FPS (avg.)=13

Thursday, May 22, 2014

up up and away

saw a promising prominence on 5/4/14 and decided to image it:

here's the animation just over 2 hours imaging once every 5 minutes
a lucky catch as the magnetic field lines holding the hydrogen plasma in place above the sun snapped:

boring details:
5/4/2014, newport beach, ca
DMK 51, 2.5x Powermate, Lunt 60 PT B1200, ASA DDM60

using firecapture now which allowed a sequence
imaging one minute out of every 5 @ 12fps
and mostly automated processing with registax
still had to do final alignment by hand

Thursday, May 15, 2014

solar prominence, the movie: mother of a prom revisited

sent out an image last year of a solar prominence i'd captured :
mother of a prom

here's an animation from the same day:

same time scale as prior animation post), but higher resolution, focusing on prominence at edge.

Long winded processing notes:
i continued to capture video of the prominence for 160 minutes at 2 frames per second
unfortunately, the resulting avi file was so big, my processing software crashed on it repeatedly
(virtual dub and registax) so i abandoned the project

improvements in the processing software (and actually reading the manual) as well as newer editing software (pipp) allowed me to chop it up into more managable bits and process them as a batch
wound up with 25x400 second videos
edited with pipp and registax
then taken to photoshop for curves to smooth the background, spot healing to stomp out a spot left by a dust mote (sharp eyed viewer might catch artifact at the left edge towards the end) and final animation. 

5/12/13, los alamitos, CA 
DMK 51, 2.5x Powermate, Lunt 60 PT B1200, ASA DDM60 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

solar animation teaser

A while ago, captured over 2 hours of video of the sun, full disk in hydrogen alpha
hoping to animate some of the motion occurring in the hydrogen plasma.
here's the full disk image (click on image for full size):
after hours of processing, it was mostly a bust
learned i needed either much higher magnification or longer time course or luck
to get something interesting.

here are a few areas where there was a bit of motion:
lower left plage (bright spot)

upper left there was a small area with a mini filament bursting apart in a tiny eruption (scale still larger than planet earth of course).  had to up-sample it x2 to see it:

and upper right up-sampled x2 again:


-bill w

Monday, May 5, 2014

Farewell Mars, welcome Saturn

still a bit of detail visible on mars, but it's fading rapidly
learned this apparition how important the weather/time of day on mars is for imaging
in addition to whether/seeing here:

here's mars at opposition very bright, poor seeing:

guessing it's late summer on mars as the polar cap (upper right) is extremely small
there's not much more detail to see
as this portion of the surface is uniform
through a small scope with mediocre seeing you'll have trouble seeing much more than an orange/tan disc.

here's mars at closest approach:

a bit more contrast, but still not much detail, making this a tough one visually as well.
btw the white dot in the center is a cloud hovering on the left side of olympus mons,
largest mountain in the solar system

and finally, a night of decent seeing
with the low albedo (dark) regions prominently on display:

the surface structure was obvious in the scope on this evening
the mid to upper right dark patch is syrtis major i think.
the dark patches are areas where wind has blown away the tan iron oxide dust
showing darker rocks

after finishing mars on the evening above
i turned the scope on a bright object rising in the east:

low magnification as it was only 30 degrees above the horizon

8"SCT FL ~2000 mm, ASI 120 MC Camera 5ms video exposures
some images barlowed 2.5x or upsampled 2x

Sunday, April 20, 2014

blood moon

caught the eclipse last week
though looks a bit more easter egg than blood to me
with all the blood moon headlines, today's media is too obsessed with game of thrones me thinks
though biblical obsession with lunar eclipses around easter/passover abound
we won't mention the 2004 world series :(

i have to say a lunar eclipse is an event which is so difficult in dynamic range, scale, and time, that it can't be captured well in a photograph.
you start with a full moon which is slightly dimmed in the penumbral phase.  then over the course of an hour, a shadow crosses the moon--as if it's going through it's phases in an hour instead of a month, except the shadow is coming from the wrong side.  The tiniest sliver of white is still bright enough to blot out most of the stars and any color which might be seen in the dimmed section of the moon.  10 minutes later the moon appears full again, but much more dark with an eery orange color.
experiencing the event, it's easy to view orange detail in the lunar disk, and the broad background with colored stars in an instant, but photographically it's difficult to represent this due to limitations of image scale.

here's my attempt:
first an animation of the event combining images taken at 10 minute intervals:

a close up of the moon during full eclipse:

a wider field during full eclipse
the blue dot lower right is spica, a bright star in virgo
a close up of the orange dot upper right shows...
mars of course
best mars shot of the season upstaged by the eclipse 

photo details
nikon D 60 
AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
fl 300mm
iso 100
1/400 sec exposures except 1/100 last crescent
eclipse phase too dark even at 1 sec on shaky tripod

wide field
nikon D 60
AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
fl 50mm
iso 100
5 sec exposure

close up
Takahshi FS 60 C @ ~450 mm
DMK 41 astronomy camera

Celeston Nexstar 8 GPS @ ~2000 mm
zwo ASI120MC camera
5 ms exposures ~133fps
stacked best 5% of ~35,000 frames

the final eclipse image in the animation was too dark
so a composite image was used bringing in brighter detailed luminance from the close up
and color from the wide field.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mars Opposition, Ganymede

i know i've sent lots of Jupiter this season

but it's still up there and i caught something surprising the other night:
you can clearly see Jupiter, moon Io lower left and Io's shadow at the lower left edge of Jupiter.

look closely below the shadow lo
lower left and you can see Ganymede transiting the face of Jupiter
now look closer still at Ganymede and you'll see the bottom half is white and the top half brown...
meaning surface detail on one of Jupiter's moons has been resolved
which is a new milestone for me
(8"SCT FL ~2000 mm, ASI 120 MC Camera, stack of ~500 of 10,000 5ms video exposures)

Mars is at opposition right now!
prime viewing will last for another week or so, then it won't be back for 20 months, so go out and see it now
here's a shot from last night during poor seeing:

same specs as Jupiter