Entries tagged as Saturn

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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Saturn and its satellites

Rhea - Tethys - Saturn - Dione - Titan on June 15, 2016

I used the Opteka 2x teleconverter lens for astrophotography for the first time when I took another series of photos of the planets two days ago. This is supposed to be used with telephoto mirror lenses, but that's basically what my telescope is as well and I hoped it would be usable here. Test shots during the day came out alright, maintaining better contrast than the 2.5x Barlow lens I had been using. As you can see here, it performs reasonably well in the night, too.

I didn't originally intend to photograph the Saturnian satellites because they are quite dimmer than the Jovian ones. The four biggest Jovian satellites have apparent brightness in the magnitude 5 range, while the biggest and brightest Saturnian satellite, Titan, is around magnitude 8. The three largest after Titan are of magnitude 10. That's why I didn't take separate photos with longer exposure. Even so, post-processing the background area revealed the dim satellites. I noted their relative positions with the caption. Dione may be barely visible on on well-tuned screens.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE + Opteka 2x Teleconverter
Device: Sony A5000 (prime focus)
Settings: (3000mm) - ISO 100 - 1/3s - (f/10)
Filters: None
Time: 2016-06-15 00:12-00:13 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
26 photos stacked with PIPP 2.5.6 and RegiStax 6.1.0.8

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

Saturn in the early evening with A5000

Saturn as seen by Sony A5000

In the early evening these days, Saturn is seen shining brightly in the southwestern sky. The apartments nearby hinder the sight well before it sets into the western horizon, though. And in a few weeks, even this narrow opportunity would go away. This meant that now was the time to take photos of Saturn with my new A5000.

Preliminary attempts last week were disappointing, however. The planet looked dark and fuzzy. After analyzing the problem, I concluded that the rails on the window and the pollution (atmospheric and light-induced) near the horizon were causing this. So I raised the telescope up a bit and tried to shoot as early in the evening as possible.

As a result, the photographs from last evening came out looking good. Cassini division and the differently-coloured layers of the surface are all visible. This is comparable to the ones I took back in May, even though the apparent size is smaller (18.32 vs. 15.85 arc seconds). This may have been helped by A5000 having a slightly higher resolving power (0.19 vs. 0.20 arc seconds / pixel) than iPhone 6 Plus.

This is encouraging in a couple of ways. This confirmed A5000's ability to provide almost all my astrophotography needs. And on May 2016, Mars will be about as big as Saturn today (excluding the ring part), so I may be able to get some nice photos of the red planet.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE + 2.5x barlow
Device: Sony A5000 (prime focus)
Settings: (3750mm) - ISO 800 - 1/4s - (f/25)
Filters: None
Time: 2015-09-22 19:35 - 19:44 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
33 photos stacked with RegiStax 6.1.0.8

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