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Imaging: Venus, Jupiter, Moon, Mars

Posted: 26 February 2012

Saturday afternoon, 25 February 2012, the sky was clear. I stepped outside to see if I could see Venus near the crescent moon. Using the house to block the sun, I looked almost straight up and there was the moon. After a few seconds, Venus became visible to my naked eyes. I took this handheld photo with the D7000 DSLR using a 300mm VR lens:


I opened the observatory at 1744 MST, 79°F. The sky was still clear but there was a slight breeze. At 1751 MST, viewed Venus at 77X and 206X. I then set up for D7000 DSLR prime focus + 3X TeleXtender imaging with the 8" LX200-ACF. I used Keith's Imager Stacker to stack 735 video frames (30 seconds), 1/1000sec, ISO 500, with this cropped result:


I resumed observing at 1802 MST and viewed Venus at 364X. The view was excellent. I then viewed Mercury, 364X. Next was Jupiter, 77X, 133X, 206X, and 364X. Again, some excellent views. All four Galilean Moons were visible.

At 1811 MST, six minutes before local sunset, Venus and the crescent moon were easily seen with the naked eye. Jupiter was just faintly visible to the naked eye. At 1824 MST, I did some lunar observing at 77X and 206X. At 1840 MST, I took this D7000 DSLR photo of Jupiter (left), the crescent moon (with some Earthshine visible), and Venus (below the moon), f/4.5, 1/6sec, 70mm, ISO 500:


I mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus of the 8" telescope and captured this image of the moon, 1/500sec, ISO 1000:


I added the 3X TeleXtender and did some imaging of the Crater Petavius. As an experiment, I did a video recording at 1/200sec, ISO 1000, for 30 seconds. The recording was underexposed but I was able to improve it in video processing software. I then stacked 576 frames, yielding this cropped image:


More work to do on lunar video recording for stacking.

At 1910 MST, not quite an hour after sunset, I took this iPhone 4 photo of the western sky showing Jupiter (top), the crescent moon and Venus (center):


At 1922 MST, I resumed observing Jupiter, 77X and 206X. The Great Red Spot was just rotating into view. I mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus + 3X TeleXtender and did video recordings at 1/250sec, ISO 1000. This images were underexposed but I was able to process and stack 1461 frames (60 seconds) with this cropped result:


I ended imaging at 1935 MST and began an extended period of Jupiter observing. At 1956 MST, the Great Red Spot was nicely in view approaching the central meridian, 133X and 206X. I switched from the 9.7mm (206X) eyepiece to the 26mm eyepiece + 3X TeleXtender for a little more magnification (231X). I then added a moon filter, which helped bring out the cloud bands. As Jupiter got lower in the sky, I switched back to 133X. Ended Jupiter observing at 2045 MST.

I then began observing Mars, rising in the east, at 133X. It was currently too low for good viewing. (The northeast neighbor was once again doing his part to contribute to the global light pollution problem. Fortunately, his contribution was limited to a short period of time this night.) At 2120 MST, the view of Mars was a little better, so I switched to 206X. The North Polar Cap was definitely much smaller than it had been earlier in the month. Several dark areas were seen. At 2130 MST, seeing began deteriorating. At 2147 MST, with no improvement in seeing, I added the moon filter, which improved the view. I did some filter tests to see which helped or hurt the view of Mars at 206X:

#21 Orange - some improvement over no filter
#56 Light Green - North Polar Cap and a bright area on the limb stand out
#8 Light Yellow - no improvement over no filter
#82A Light Blue - no improvement over no filter

Switched to the 26mm + 3X TeleXtender (231X); seeing was still not very good at 2205 MST. Added the moon filter, which again helped. At 2241 MST, removed the moon filter as seeing had improved a little. I began preparations for D7000 DSLR imaging of Mars at prime focus + 3X TeleXtender.

I did a focus test using the Bahtinov Mask on the star Regulus. I then did some video recordings of Mars at 1/250sec, ISO 1000. The video was underexposed but I was able to process and stack 1461 frames from a 60 second video recording to yield this image, cropped and upscaled 200%:


At 2300 MST, I took a quick final look at Mars, 364X and 206X.

Closed the observatory at 2313 MST, 55°F.


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