Entries tagged as camera

Mars at Closest Approach in 2018

Mars as seen in 10-minute intervals starting from the midnight of August 1, 2018

Mars comes close to Earth every two years or so, but due to the elliptical orbit the closeness varies a lot. It came as close as 0.373 AU in 2003, while it was 0.674 AU away at its approach in 2012. The closest approaches happen every 15 or 17 years, and the latest one happened on 16:50 KST, July 31, 2018, at a distance of 0.385 AU. The next one will happen in 2035. Since this year's occurrence happened during the day, I did the next best thing and got my telescope set up that night to take a good look.

Unfortunately, Mars is experiencing a planet-level dust storm since early June and it has not subsided yet. A peek at the planet during last week's lunar eclipse indeed showed a mostly uniform orange disk, confirming my fears. I wasn't about to give up, so I got my Baader filter out and hoped for the best. Thankfully, the two-hour shooting session did not go to waste as the hours of post-processing finally revealed some discernible surface details, as you can see here.


You can even observe the planet visibly rotating in this video that incorporates all the photos I took. It's similar to what I made two years ago, but the continuous shooting made for a more fluid animation.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE
Device: Sony A5000 (prime focus)
Settings: (1500mm) - ISO 100 - 1/100s - (f/10)
Filters: Baader Moon & Skyglow
Time: 2018-07-31 23:59 - 2018-08-01 01:50 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
481 photos processed with PIPP 2.5.9 and RegiStax 6.1.0.8

Century's longest total lunar eclipse and Mars

36-photo composite of the July 2018 total lunar eclipse and the trailing Mars (click for higher resolution)

Those living in Korea was able to see the second total lunar eclipse of the year, following the one in January 31. I had multiple reasons to watch this eclipse. There wasnโ€™t going to be another total lunar eclipse visible in Korea for nearly three years (next one is on May 26, 2021). Also, Mars was just past the opposition, shining bright next to the Moon and forming an interesting celestial pair. Finally, the eclipse was billed as the longest in the century, including more than 103 minutes of totality.

Weather cooperated well, and I was able to both observe and record the progress without a hitch. The result is the composite photo above. It was the first time my newly acquired Sony SEL55210 lens was put to use for astrophotography and it performed adequately.

Celine witnesses her first lunar eclipse after waking up early

One minor disappointment was that the Moon was to set below the horizon during the middle of the totality. So I focused on watching it comfortably in the house with my daughter instead of trying to see through every moment. In fact, it was first such eclipse visible through the southerly window since 2011, enabling Celine to see the phenomenon for the first time. She was impressed with how the full Moon progressively got dimmer from the left corner, eventually becoming red from the Earthโ€™s shadow. Next time, I hope I can show her the comeback part.

Device: Sony A5000 + SEL55210 (E 55โ€“210 mm F4.5โ€“6.3 OSS)
Settings: 55mm - ISO 100 - 1/500s to 5s - f/4.5
Filters: None
Time: 2018-07-28 01:12-04:40 KST
Location: Naju, Korea

FLIR ONE Pro - Inside Uses

Oven-baked spaghetti looks innocuous at a casual glance

Indoor uses of thermographic imaging camera include finding leaks of heat or water, owing to the fact that people doing repairs may have the budget and the repeated usage that justify owning such a device. But as the cost to buy one goes down and the size becomes small enough to carry in a pocket, more uses come up. The one I found useful in raising kids is cooking and food safety. As you can see here, a bowl of spaghetti straight out of an oven didn't look particularly dangerous at first...

But the bowl is quite hot at over 85C, enough to cause a burn

But with FLIR ONE Pro, you could see that the handle was quite hot. The spaghetti itself was also sizzling at over 70C. This image served as a good way to teach my kids why they should be careful with a bowl that came out of an oven.
Continue reading "FLIR ONE Pro - Inside Uses"

FLIR ONE Pro - Impressions & Outside Uses

I have been a long time user of a FLIR ONE, an infrared thermographic camera module that connects to a smartphone. This type of camera visualizes the hot and cold spots of a subject by measuring infrared emissions. Such cameras are generally quite expensive, but by reducing it to just the camera module and relegating much of the operation to the connected smartphone, having it at a much lower price point became possible. That's how the FLIR ONE series came about.

More specifically, I own a first generation of the series, which is shaped to fit on an iPhone 5 or 5S only. Subsequent generations were redesigned to support a wide range of phones. So I was quite thankful to have given the chance by FLIR to test out the high-end version of their latest generation smartphone attachment - the FLIR ONE Pro. I was eager to see what sorts of improvements were made during the past few years.

Contents of the FLIR ONE Pro package

The product came in a colourful box that contained the main module, a USB-C charging cable, a compact carrying pouch, and some leaflets. The general style of the packaging had remained constant and professional, and the addition of a pouch was a nice touch since the module really shines when it can be brought to everywhere.

The quick start guide basically tells you to connect the module to your smartphone and install the FLIR ONE app. It is really a plug-and-go affair, so the simplicity is understandable. I do wonder if basic app functions could have been explained on paper a bit further, however.

Size of FLIR One 1st generation (top left) and FLIR ONE Pro (bottom right) compared with a transit card (bottom left)

Comparing to the first generation module, the look of the main component - the thermographic sensor and the regular camera bundle - hasn't changed much. However, the overall packaging has changed dramatically. The first generation was shaped to encase an iPhone 5/5S, so the long shape allowed it to house a large battery. It also has a recalibration / power switch next to the sensor bundle.

The FLIR ONE Pro, on the other hand, was designed to fit on a data/charging port of a phone and is smaller than a transit card. In order to accommodate thick phone cases, the length of the connector on the module is adjustable through the dial just below it. In order to make it compact, however, the integrated battery is much smaller and runs shorter than the first generation. There is a small power button at the bottom with status light. Automatic recalibration function did away with a need for a manual button.
Continue reading "FLIR ONE Pro - Impressions & Outside Uses"

100-minute tracking of Jupiter

Jupiter and the Galilean moons seen on 00:44, April 20, 2018

Jupiter and its four major satellites (Galilean moons) are good targets for time lapse photography because of the relatively rapid movement. The rotational period of the planet is slightly less than 10 hours, and Io, the innermost of the Galilean moons, orbits the planet in about 42.5 hours. Under good conditions, these things become noticeable over a span of just about an hour.

Shortly after midnight of April 20, 2018, Io came out from behind Jupiter on the left side, while the Great Red Spot was moving towards the back of the planet on the right side after being in the center. These were all captured on my camera as I took 597 photos of the Jovian system over a period of 100 minutes between midnight and 01:40AM. The photos were then stacked and processed in 1-minute intervals (6 photos on average), like the one you see above, then put together into video as you see below.


I think it shows the dynamics of these celestial objects quite well. Now that I have a good grasp of the workflow for making a planetary animation, I should be able to make a similar one for Mars when it approaches Earth close enough to be seen as half the apparent size of Jupiter next July. Before wrapping up, here's a bonus picture of the Jovian system that I took just after photographing the Sombrero Galaxy. You can actually see Io casting a tiny shadow on Jupiter. I thought I would never see that sort of thing on my telescope.

Jupiter and the Galilean moons seen on 01:03, April 19, 2018

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE
Device: Sony A5000 (prime focus)
Settings: (1500mm) - ISO 100 - 1/15s(#1), 1/20s(#2) - (f/10)
Filters: Baader Moon & Skyglow
Time: 2018-04-20 00:00 ~ 01:40(#1), 2018-04-19 01:03(#2) KST
Location: Naju, Korea
597(#1), 6(#2) photos processed with PIPP 2.5.6 and RegiStax 6.1.0.8

Copyright (C) 1996-2018 Wesley Woo-Duk Hwang-Chung. All rights reserved.