Started the day hoping to catch the latest sunspot only to find once I’d set everything up it had disappeared, along with any filaments and prominences, absolutely nothing, even scanning the disc in the PST with the Hyperion zoom set on 8mm, nothing!
Come the evening I’d set up the 9.25″ Celestron SCT on HEQ5 pro under the carport to get a view south, by 9:30 pm Venus was very low in the Western sky and Jupiter was visible above my neighbours roof top, visually all 4 moons were visible and the major cloud bands were visible on Jupiter, imaging was a different story very wobbly, whether image was in focus or not was a bit hit and miss, even using the electric control on the feather touch focuser, using the ADC made some difference but not a lot. I captured an avi of 1000 frames using Celestron neximage5 camera the best 500 were stacked using Autostakkert and tweaked brightness, contrast RGB alignment and wavelets in Registax6 with a final tweak in Photoshop CS6. Really not worth the effort.
As Jupiter passed out of view Saturn was nicely placed , visually OK, Cassini divison clearly visible but imaging wise very hard work, same process as for Jupiter.
Just past midnight Mars came into view, very low, visually could make out S. polar cap and hint of some markings, poor atmospherics and the recent dust storm don’t help, a complete contrast to 2015 when it was a lot higher and major features like Syrtis major were clearly visible. Imaging , helped to enhance the dark light areas, processed as above Checking astronomynow.com/mars helped to identify features visible at time of observation.
This is my first blog post so apologies if I break any rules!
Several folks made kind comments about my imaging setup at last Friday’s meeting; It’s a Skywatcher 150PL on a HEQ5, I was using a ZWO ASI120MC camera (colour) with an x3 barlow and an atmospheric dispersion corrector (ADC). The filter wheel was just set for a an IR cut filter. The ADC has a pair of prisms and is used to correct the ‘blurring’ caused by the low angle of the planets at the moment – I’m still getting the hang of it.
Seeing and transparency for Jupiter was very good, but Saturn was less good and I only got one decent run before it hid behind a tree…
Mars came up and I spent about an hour on it, my first try of the year. Unfortunately my EQdir lead blew up (literally!) and although the mount was tracking it was drifting a bit and I had to target manually which was ‘challenging’. The imaging runs when it was low down were awful, especially as it took a while to get the ADC dialled in with my attention more on keeping the red blur on screen! The final image shows next to no detail, but all other images form that evening are pretty low on detail 9although some are a bit better than mine). This is because of a planet-wide dust storm on Mars, hopefully it will die down before opposition in about a month.
The good news is that mount and computer survived the exploding dongle and an off the shelf USB-serial dongle was easy to wire up as a replacement.
Thanks to all RAG members for making me feel welcome, and giving me some really helpful advice and assistance.
<edit, the previews should now link to the full size images – I hope!>
Although closer the previous day, as usual the clouds got in the way, but for once the forecast for Friday morning was correct and in the east just after 6am Venus could be seen blazing away and as the eyes adjusted it was possible to make out the fainter orange hue of Mars close by to the right and slightly above, sigma Leo was visible above this pairing of Venus and Mars. Between 06:00 and 06:30 the pair climbed higher in the dawn sky before being enveloped in the approaching dawn.
Venus is shining strongly in the evening sky, even brighter than Jupiter in the morning sky, finally cleared the roofs opposite so had a go at imaging it, tried a different approach this time, have previously attached the DSLR to eyepiece using T ring and adapter, this time tried it with the DMK42 mono CCD camera with a red filter, to remove any chromatic aberration. Used 120mm Evostar refractor on HEQ5pro, sidereal tracking mode, max frame of 15fps with DMK41 , #23A filter attached, 600 frame .avi files recorded with, no magnification, x2 Barlow and x5Barlow, also imaged Mars to left and above Venus with no magnification.
All images produced from stacking .avi in Autostakkert, wavelets in Registax6 and final processing/sizing in Photoshop.6
Venus with no magnification, slightly gibbous (about 60%),will become larger and more of a crescent as it moves to Greatest Elongation in January.
with x2 barlow
with x 5 Barlow
Mars and Venus with no magnification, taken under same conditions.
Mars is so far away now, even high magnification only shows a red disc, with no features, a UV filter would be needed to draw out any features in the atmosphere of Venus. (Did you hear that Santa?)