Update time! Since my last post the weather conditions have been reasonably good for astrophotography 🙂 Because I was quite pleased with the result from my smaller telescope, I was really looking forward to using my larger telescope.
Unfortunately, I experienced some severe issues with the settings in the software package I use for capturing. I was able to get images from the webcam when it was separated from the telescope and I could get a very clear visual view through the telescope, but the webcam got nothing through the telescope. After 2 very frustrating evenings under a perfectly clear night sky with nothing but black coming out of the webcam, I realligned and recalibrated the whole setup during the day. Thanks to the people living in the apartment building 2 kilometers away for letting me use their living room to get my focus right. 😉
The next bright night I finally got a chance to capture jupiter through the 130mm reflector telescope. The advantage of this larger telescope over the 90mm refractor is that it captures twice as much detail. The downside is that the tube is much shorter which causes the magnification to be half that of the smaller telescope. So there is a tradeoff between the amount of light that enters the telescope and the number of pixels that actually capture planets, nebulae or whatever it is that I want to capture. A 2 or 3x barlow lens should be a perfect solution, but again: they are expensive.
The photo here consists of ~200 stacked frames, is taken with the xbox cam through my f/5 130mm reflector and obviously shows jupiter 😛 Compared with the photo in my last post (which was mildly overedited in photoshop 😉 ), this photo shows more detail in more natural colors.
Last night I decided to capture a new target: mars. At 1:00 in the night, mars has gained enough heigth to be visible above trees and houses. To the naked eye, mars is a quite bright orange colored star in the south-east. To the telescope-aided eye it becomes a larger orange blob. If I use my telescopes (which are really not that large from an astrophotographers perspective), I can’t really make out much detail. Larger amateur telescopes can extinguish more detail but frankly, mars just isn’t very exciting to look at. Sure it has some random darker areas and a polar ice cap but that’s about it.
The picture below is taken with my 90mm refractor telescope. It is a stack of 80 frames from an avi video. Maybe using a barlow lens on my f/5 130mm reflector somewhere in april (when mars is closer to the earth in 4 years) will provide me a better view.
Also, the new background of the site is a collage of the best photos I took of several objects. Without a doubt, saturn is of the crappiest quality. The photo was taken by holding my iphone in front of a high magnification eyepiece which has a very small region where the image is sharp. So plenty of room for improvement there. But as saturn is now only visible early in the morning, a new photo probably wont be here any sooner than the end of april.
Nevertheless, I like my new background 🙂
Also, this is really cool: http://mo-www.cfa.harvard.edu/MicroObservatory/