Entries tagged as telescope

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

Jupiter and its satellites under adverse weather

Europa - Ganymede - Jupiter - Io - Callisto on June 10, 2016

Yesterday's sky was full of light clouds that became thicker as times passed. It was just enough see very bright stars and planets, so I decided to check how large the planets would appear with my old Tamron 270mm lens on my Sony A5000 camera. Jupiter came out to be about 11 pixels wide, or about 3.3 arc seconds per pixel. I then attached the camera to the telescope and saw that the planet was about 64 pixel wide, or about 0.56 arc seconds per pixel. This is more or less in line with the 1500mm focal length.

Since Jupiter was still somewhat "photographable" even with the cloud cover, I decided to take some more photos and stacked them to produce this nice result with all four Galilean satellites in view. The last time I took a photo like this was three years ago.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE
Device: Sony A5000 (prime focus)
Settings: (1500mm) - ISO 100 - 1/2s - (f/10)
Filters: None
Time: 2016-06-10 21:48 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
20 photos stacked with PIPP 2.5.6 and RegiStax 6.1.0.8

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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