Flintstone Stargazing

May 29, 2011

My Best Saturn Photo (so far)

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Observation Journal, Planets, Saturn — Ed @ 10:37 pm

Tonight, I finally got out under the stars for the first time in a month and was rewarded with a beautiful view of Saturn. Visually it was great and I had the chance to share it with several people and this image testifies to how good it looked with the camera. It’s hard to imagine it looking much better than this, though I’m going to try a bit more processing and see if I can pull some more detail.

April 29, 2011

Saturn on 4/29/11

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Observation Journal, Saturn — Ed @ 10:53 pm

Tonight’s seeing was pretty decent and I got the scope out to take some shots of Saturn. I wasn’t disappointed. I believe if you look carefully, that you can see the “white storm” on the “bottom” half of Saturn. The Cassini division is also visible on the edges of the rings. I can’t wait until I get a really, really good night to image Saturn.

I also spent some time just visually going through the Caldwell catalog and enjoyed that a lot as well.

April 23, 2011

Saturn on 4/23/11

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Observation Journal, Planets, Saturn — Tags: — Ed @ 11:28 pm

Tonight was pretty nice with a few clouds and so I got thse scope out to try out my new piggyback mount. I took a series of images of M81/M82 and will be processing those later. Afterward, I hooked up the webcam and took this shot of Saturn. The Cassini division is reasonably visible. I can’t wait until I get a night of really good seeing.

April 5, 2011

Saturn on 4/5/11

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Observation Journal, Saturn — Ed @ 11:26 pm

I finally stayed up late enough to see Saturn with the LX200 and it did not disappoint! Seeing was so-so, but I was able to get a decent image using my webcam. I was able to easily (visually) see Titan and also at least 3 other moons, which I’d never seen before visually.

April 3, 2009

Hyperdetailed Moon on 4/3/09

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Moon, Observation Journal, Planets, Saturn — Tags: , — Ed @ 11:22 pm

Tonight was the first reasonably clear night in a couple weeks. Unfortunately, the Moon is high and very bright so I just got some bright shots of it and Saturn. Unfortunately, before I could do anything else, my telescope dewed up so I had to call it a night. It was actually just a bit too windy to do any deep sky imaging.

The image of the Moon, above, is an Autostitched panorama made from 32 images like this:

I captured each of these frames and then used the free AutoStitch software to put them together. The result is a hyper detailed image of the Moon. If you click on the Moon image, you can then click on all sizes and choose the largest size to see the detail – it’s 3337 pixels on a side, so there’s a ton of stuff to see up close!

I also took this quick shot of Saturn:

Though the evening was a bit frustrating because of the dewing up and some other issues, it was still great to get out with the scope again after a month with only a handful of observations and I’m also really pleased with the big Moon image. I hope to do more of those. Autostitch did a great job.

March 7, 2009

Saturn with Moons on 3/6/09

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Observation Journal, Planets, Saturn — Ed @ 12:55 am

Saturn’s rings are nearly edge on right now and will be for months. If you look closely, in this image, you can make out as many as 5 moons (2 are easier than the others, they are all to the right of Saturn).

July 15, 2008

Night of the Planets


Jupiter (Io transit, GRS) on 7/14/08

This evening, which was very clear but had the Moon bright in the sky, I decided to start my imaging by focusing on the planets. Saturn and Mars, which are quite close in the sky, are getting lower on the horizon and harder to see. Soon, they’ll be in the Sun’s glare and I won’t be able to see them for a while. Meanwhile, Jupiter is rising early enough to be seen regularly, shining very brightly in the southern sky.

While I started with Saturn, Mars and the Moon, it’s the shot of Jupiter that is my favorite tonight. This is the first time I’ve captured the Great Red Spot (GRS). I’ve shot several images of Jupiter, but have never had the good fortune to be imaging while the spot is visible until tonight. it’s visible in the lower right quarter of the planet. The next thing that’s neat is that if you look very closely, Io is transiting the planet in the upper left – it’s just barely in front of the planet. The moons to the right were added in from a longer exposure – Gannymede is the brighter one and Europa is on the far edge of the image. I’m really happy with this image.

My image of Saturn didn’t turn out too well. I don’t think that it was quite in focus.

Saturn on 7/14/08
Saturn on 7/14/08

Mars is just really a red spot in the sky now. It’s quite far away and at least with my scope, there’s no detail visble. It will be about 8 or 9 months before I’ll be able to start seeing some detail on Mars again.

Mars on 7/14/08
Mars on 7/14/08

Next, I shot one of my favorite sights on the Moon, Sinus Iridum – The Bay of Rainbows.

Sinus Iridum-Bay of Rainbows on 7/14/08
Sinus Iridum-Bay of Rainbows on 7/14/08

I rounded out the night capturing an additional 6 more Messier Objects, which bring me closer to my goal of completing the entire Messier catalog.

May 25, 2008

Saturn on 5/24/08


Saturn on 5/24/08

I did a bit more Saturn eyepiece projection photography last night and this is the result. I think I’m pushing the limits of my equipment at this magnification and it’s not radically better than the slightly lower magnification one I took the other night. That said, this is definitely the best way for me to capture planet images with my equipment.

I also took a number of wide-field tracking shots with the D50 attached to the weight bar of my telescope of the constellation Leo which Saturn is in right now.

Saturn in Leo (labelled) on 5/24/08
Saturn in Leo on 5/24/08

Finally, today, my lilies started blooming, so here’s a shot of something completely unrelated to astrophotography:

Garden Lilies
Lilies in my Garden

May 24, 2008

Best Saturn Yet / Pinwheel Galaxy


Saturn on 5/23/08

I’ve been struggling with my images of Saturn lately. I’ve had trouble getting a good magnified view using my Barlows – in particular with chromatic aberration. Tonight I tried a different take: eyepiece projection. Using my 15mm eyepiece and my eyepiece projection equipment, I attached my DSI-II to it and projected the image (which makes it larger) onto the CCD. What a difference! I can’t wait to try viewing with an even higher magnification eyepiece. The planet and its rings are well defined and there’s even a subtle hint of the Cassini division in the rings!

Something strange also happened tonight. While I was outside, after 12, maybe 12:30, there was a long, low rumbling from the west. It lasted for maybe 5 minutes. It was a very surreal experience; I couldn’t figure out what was causing the sound and frankly it made me nervous. I thought it might be thunder, but it went on way too long and there were no visible clouds. A jet? I didn’t see one. If that’s what it was, it was either unlit or flying behind Lookout Mountain. A meteor? I didn’t see anything. I felt the ground to see if it was an earthquake, but there didn’t seem to be any vibration and I think that would have shown up in the images I was taking – if you shake the tripod at all, the image will show that. I don’t know what it was and wonder if anyone else heard this.

It’s pretty late, so I’ll just post one more image that I captured tonight. M101 – the Pinwheel Galaxy.

M101 on 5/23/08
M101 on 5/23/08

May 22, 2008

Saturn on 5/22/08

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, Clouds, Observation Journal, Planets, Saturn — Tags: — Ed @ 10:15 pm


Saturn on 5/22/08

Well, I saw the ISS with my eyes, but I mis-set the telescope for tracking and I was never able to catch up with it. I’ll have a couple more chances in the next few days so maybe I’ll get lucky…

Saturn was really the only thing bright enough to see through the wispy clouds. I had been anxious to try out the scope since I did a very thorough collimation and alignment of the scope. I wanted to see if it made a difference in the sharpness of my views and I believe it has. I’ve still got a bit of an issue at high magnification, but it’s really a lot better if tonight was representative.

After dialing in Saturn, I hooked up the LPI camera and took a few series of exposures of Saturn. Then, for comparison, I hooked up the DSI-II and took a bunch. Here’s a summary image of what I took:

Saturn on 5/22/08 - Camera Comparison
Saturn Camera Comparison

You can see that the DSI does a really good job of getting more detail; it also has a greater depth of color. Overall, I think it’s the better camera for planetary images, which is ironic, since that’s kind of the purpose of the LPI, not the DSI. I don’t know though. Maybe I need to learn more about how to take better images with the LPI.

Well, it’s really too cloudy to stay outside, so I’m headed to bed.

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