Age :38
Group: Moderator
Location: Funland
Activity killed the cat?
IRL  /  22 May 2010, 23:45
Astrophotography #1
Yep, I have had astronomy as my hobby for a few years now. But only very recently I made a mistake by trying to take some photos of the planets in our solar system. Those attempts and failures ignited a spark that made me do certain purchases, and here we are:
Here is Saturn, pics taken just tonight in not so great conditions. However I think they succeeded just fine. Unfortunately the ring-angle doesn't allow cassini-division to be seen from earth just now, but at least the rings are visible somehow.

I also took some pics from the moon's craters and mountains.

There's a lot to learn and I'm just a beginner in the astrophotography, but hopefully that stuff just gets better. Not during summer though, as the nights in Funland tend to be too bright for a few months. Luckily around august the nights will allow me to continue the hobby, and as I see it, Jupiter's opposition will be in the early fall.

EDIT: Added one more image...
2010-05-23, 18:42
That first image of Saturn is particularly striking.
Hell, it's all very impressive to my puny human mind since I can't really comprehend the distances involved.
2010-05-23, 19:12
The distances in solar system are not that big. At the time the Saturn pics were taken, Saturn was 9,04 AU away. And by no means Saturn is a small planet to be observed, quite the opposite.
2010-05-23, 20:05
Well, I suppose it's after Saturn that things get considerably farther away, but 1,350,000,000km isn't exactly a 5 minute walk down to the shops :E.
2010-05-23, 23:42
Well, what if I told you (in case you don't already know) that there are stars so big, that if you replaced our sun with such a star, its radius would probably extend to the orbit of saturn. There are a few hypergiants known that could be this big; VY Canis Majoris, WOH G64 and VV Cephei A.

There's a nice video of star sizes on youtube.
2010-05-24, 09:58 =)
2010-05-24, 15:16
Space sure is fascinating. Let us know if you see some saturnians, maybe we can meet them in quake.
2010-05-24, 21:10
With antilag enabled we could play them on a server located between us on a satellite...

on topic: pretty brool pictures co
2010-05-25, 01:24
I wonder who will be the first one to play QW in space! IT JUST HAS TO BE DONE AT SOME POINT!
2010-05-25, 06:23
With antilag enabled, we could just play on their server @ Saturn and still own with lg :-D
2010-05-25, 07:29
Imagine the delayed knockback! They will have to start dodging before they even typed /ready !
2010-05-25, 08:26
Spot on Willgurht!
2010-05-28, 15:36
2010-06-06, 00:35
Those really are some stunning photographs, Renzo. I would be very interested to hear about (and maybe see, in some further images) the setup you employed.

If you have not already seen, and I would be surprised given the topic is one of your passions, the 2010 five-part BBC series entitled "Wonders of the Solar System" then I would wholeheartedly recommend you take a look.


Looking at the second screengrab is enough to put me right off my boring day job.
2010-06-06, 10:03
I've watched the series and a "few" more

As for the telescope and accessories, sure.

The telescope itself is an 8" Schmidt-Cassegrains type telescope from Celestron called CPC 800. It is fully computerized and comes with a 16-channel GPS-locator. Once aligned (read more info about alignment procedure from Celestron site) you just have to type in the objects (GoTo feature) you want to see and the telescope will find the object for you, and track it automatically (auto-tracking mode) and it won't get lost from the view. The telescope is powered by Celestron PowerTank 17 (17Ah) and can operate for more than 20 hours continuously when fully charged.

As for the eyepieces (or oculars), I have purchased few Celestron X-cels to get few different magnifications. 8mm eyepiece gives me 254x magnificaction, 12,5mm 163x and 21mm 97x. With the Celestron Omni Barlow 2x the focal length is doubled, doubling the magnifications in process. I have few other eyepieces too, but the only one worth mentioning of those remaining is the 40mm Plössl (Celestron E-lux) that gives me 51x magnification (102x using barlow). Only the X-cel eyepieces are of some quality, the rest aren't that much. I also have Celestron Reducer/Corrector f/6.3 that widens the field of view and reduces the focal length to 63% of the original.

I also have a few filters. Baader's neodymium filter helps to deal with the light pollution and enhances contrast of the planetary views. Since light pollution isn't a real problem here where I live, I use this filter mostly when watching Mars, since it brings out the darker areas better. I also have Baader's UHC-S nebulae filter that greatly enhances the contrast of the image when viewing almost any sort of nebulae. Basically it cuts of the lightness of the sky, making background a lot darker but still allowing the light from nebulae be almost fully visible. The last filter I have is the Baader UV/IR-cut filter that is solely used when imaging with CCD-cameras. CCD-cameras are very sensitive to heat radiation (IR-light). The passband of the filter is 400-680nm (visible light) and it reflects anything below 400nm and above 680nm sharpening the image CCD-camera sees by a huge factor (the pics in this thread are proof of that). UV/IR-cut filter will affect visual observing in any way.

The camera I have is the only "toy" I have, the Celestron NexImage. It is a USB attached CCD color camera capable of "only" producing images of 640*480 resolution. I use it to shoot videos that are 120-300 seconds long, then use Registax image processing software to select and stack a lot of images which greatly increases the image quality of the final image produced. I usually try to get at least 300 images stacked at lowest image quality of 95%, but sometimes the videos are so good that I can even get something like 1375 images stacked out of 1800 at the lowest quality of 97%. The "lowest quality" in this case means how close to the reference image the rest of the images are. If you use quality of 100%, you get only one frame stacked unless there are identical frames to the reference frame.

As for the future pictures, you have to wait. It doesn't get dark anymore here in Funland, the length of day is almost 20 hours already, making the use of my telescope useless. It will start to get darker in the end of july, and I'll be following the upcoming opposition of Jupiter from that point on.
2010-06-07, 02:23
Thanks for the update, that's quite a lot of detail right there.

I was hoping that you might already have some photos of your setup perhaps even showing where you go to get your images. If anywhere that is, do you shoot the heavens from your own back yard? If you do have some pictures archived it would save me waiting a couple of months for you to get the kit back out

After we discussed the BBC series I wonder if you would also be kind enough to list some of your own recommendations for my further viewing?
2010-06-07, 06:58
Well, I do have a pic of me and my friend being at the observing site with my telescope, but showing it is a different story

When I'm not at the observing site, I'll just drag the telescope to my balcony and watch southern sky. Also most of the pictures are taken from my balcony, since solar system photography doesn't require specific conditions to be successful, like deepsky photography does (nebulae, galaxies).
2010-08-20, 17:32
So what's the total cost for this hobby so far?
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