Entries tagged as Mars

Moon-Mars-Venus conjunction of 2017

Moon, Mars, and Venus line up in the western sky

As I dropped by Gwangju to catch a movie (I'll be posting a comic tomorrow), the western sky was adorned with an alignment of some of the bright bodies of the solar system as seen from the Earth - the Moon, Mars, and Venus. The occurrence was relatively well-publicized, but I forgot to carry a dedicated camera tonight. Luckily, the telephoto lens of the iPhone 7 Plus pulled through and I was able to capture this sight over the neighbourhood just before Venus dropped behind the buildings.

Device: iPhone 7 Plus
Settings: 56mm - ISO 1000 - 1/12s - f/2.8
Filters: None
Time: 2017-02-01 21:12 KST
Location: Gwangju, Korea
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Looking out the window to see the Milky Way

The Milky Way Galaxy adorns the southern sky, atop the apartments (13.5% size)

A few hours after walking in the rain to see a movie yesterday, I was getting ready to sleep. Then I noticed that the sky was crystal clear, something I haven't seen in more than nearly two weeks (or three, in the night). Not to pass up this opportunity, I got my camera out. With so many stars visible, I wondered if the Milky Way Galaxy could be captured even with all the lights from the apartment buildings nearby.

After a few tries, it became clear that indeed it could be done, if somewhat faintly. Adjusting the levels, curves, and contrast brought out further details. Individual colour channels were untouched, yet the sky showed a very nice gradient. This may be an unintended affect of the light pollution near the horizon and I like how it turned out.

Device: Sony A5000 + SELP1650 (E PZ 16–50 mm F3.5–5.6 OSS)
Settings: 16mm - ISO 2000 - 20s - f/3.5
Filters: None
Time: 2016-07-08 00:44 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
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Watching the rotation of Mars

Mars photographed in 30-minute intervals on May 30 - 31, 2016 (200% size)

Mars rotates once every 24 hours and 37 minutes, so the look of the planet would visibly change as you keep an eye on the planet during the night. Owing to the fact that Mars is at its closest to Earth in more than ten years as I write this, this phenomenon had become relatively easy to photograph with my equipment. In fact, yesterday's post already illustrated this point.

Animation of the Mars RotationHowever, I wanted to see if this could be made into an animation. So I managed to take photos of Mars in 30-minute intervals in the span of 4 hours. I wanted to stay up longer, but practical considerations like sleep and humidity prevailed. As you can see at the top, I ended up with a total of eight frames after post-processing nearly 3,000 burst mode photos taken with my iPhone 6S Plus mounted on the telescope. They were then put together into GIF animation that you see on the left.

The frames preserve the 2x digital zoom that I used while taking the photos because it allows you to discern the major features of Mars easier. The dark spot that sticks out on the right side of the planet in the first four frames is Syrtis Major Planum. The brighter area at the center of the planet in all the frames is Arabia Terra. Left side of the dark area just below the Arabia Terra is Meridiani Planum, where the Opportunity rover (MER-B) is currently operating (for more than 12 Earth years as of this writing). The dark area to the left of Arabia Terra visible on the last frame is Acidalia Planitia.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE + X-Cel LX 9mm eyepiece
Device: iPhone 6S Plus (afocal, 29mm - f/2.2 fixed)
Filters: Baader Moon & Skyglow
Location: Naju, Korea (time in KST)
Stacked with PIPP 2.5.6 and RegiStax 6.1.0.8

#1 (114 photos): ISO 200 - 1/25s @ 2016-05-30 22:10-22:11
#2 (116 photos): ISO 125 - 1/60s @ 2016-05-30 22:44-22:45
#3 (142 photos): ISO 100 - 1/50s @ 2016-05-30 23:12
#4 (130 photos): ISO 100 - 1/50s @ 2016-05-30 23:42
#5 (103 photos): ISO 100 - 1/50s @ 2016-05-31 00:10-00:11
#6 (106 photos): ISO 100 - 1/50s @ 2016-05-31 00:39-00:40
#7 (85 photos): ISO 100 - 1/50s @ 2016-05-31 01:09-01:10
#8 (118 photos): ISO 100 - 1/40s @ 2016-05-31 01:40

Triple planet observation 2016

Photographing Mars out the window on a clear night

With a nearly perfect weather returning last night, I set out to point the telescope out the window once again. This time, I installed the Baader M&S filter as I planned last week. It was an excellent time to take photos of the planets - it was not only about 42 to 44 hours away from the closest approach of Mars in 2016, but Jupiter's Great Red Spot was in view. At this approach, Mars will be at its largest apparent diameter since November 20, 2005 and it won't be surpassed until June 19, 2018. For future reference, next closest approach will happen on July 31, 2018 and that itself won't be surpassed until the one in September 2035.

Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars observed on May 29 & 30, 2016

I planned just for Jupiter and Mars at first, but Saturn edged into the view at the left of the window after midnight. In the end I was able to take photos of all three planets in a single session similar to what I did a year ago, except that Venus was replaced with Mars. The filter did seem to work okay, giving me a better look at the clouds of Jupiter and the dark features of Mars.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE + X-Cel LX 9mm eyepiece
Device: iPhone 6S Plus (afocal)
Filters: Baader Moon & Skyglow
Location: Naju, Korea
Stacked with PIPP 2.5.6 and RegiStax 6.1.0.8

Jupiter (200 photos): 29mm - ISO 160 - 1/25s - f/2.2 @ 2016-05-29 21:54-21:56 KST
Saturn (200 photos): 29mm - ISO 250 - 1/15s - f/2.2 @ 2016-05-30 00:16-00:17 KST
Mars #1 (150 photos): 29mm - ISO 80 - 1/30s - f/2.2 @ 2016-05-29 22:02-22:03 KST
Mars #2 (300 photos): 29mm - ISO 50 - 1/40s - f/2.2 @ 2016-05-30 00:21-00:22 KST

Mars and Saturn near opposition

Mars and Saturn as seen on May 23, 2016 (100% size)

This morning, not long after midnight, I gazed the southern sky to find the planets Saturn and Mars near the full Moon. These planets were both near their oppositions - it was just 11 days away for Saturn and Mars went through it less than 6 hours ago. You don't see their oppositions happening close together often because Mars opposition happens every 25 to 26 months, while it's around 12 months and 2 weeks for Saturn. The next time the two occurring within two weeks of each other is in 2082, when it's 4 days apart (Saturn: August 29, Mars: September 2).

I attached my iPhone 6S Plus onto the Celestron X-Cel LX 9mm eyepiece that I bought relatively recently to observe the planets in more detail. It was the first time both were used on the telescope for astrophotography. They both worked as expected and produced the images you see above. The brightness of the Moon nearby may have washed out a bit of detail, but other than that it turned out fine. I may have to try out using filters next time to see if it makes any difference.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE + X-Cel LX 9mm eyepiece
Device: iPhone 6S Plus (afocal)
Filters: None
Location: Naju, Korea
Stacked with PIPP 2.5.5 and RegiStax 6.1.0.8

Saturn
Settings: 29mm - ISO 125 - 1/20s - f/2.2
Time: 2016-05-23 01:58 KST
31 photos

Mars
Settings: 29mm - ISO 32 - 1/90s - f/2.2
Time: 2016-05-23 02:04 KST
100 photos

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