Monday, April 21, 2014

Received a comment from Tim Campbell about the Saturn images, chromatic color bleeding

Tim mentioned that the red and blue channels were out of alignment and there is a color alignment tool inside Registax that can be used to correct the offset colors.

I did that and reprocessed the Saturn photos.

Here is Saturn again, but with the colors aligned. This brings out more detail. I used virtually the same settings to process this, but changed my neat image approach a little bit. I'll update the other images in the previous post later on my laptop.

More detail :
The color channels can also be changed using advanced imaging programs like photoshop. One would have to split out the channels into layers from a one shot color tiff. Then align them as separate color channels. Registax did a pretty good job aligning the channels and it did this automatically. All I had to do was draw a box around the object from an rgb align dialog and Registax did all the work doing the alignment.

Not bad for free software off the net (Registax).

Neat image is not free however and can be bought as a stand alone piece of software or as a photoshop plug in.

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Saturn captured early this morning at 625x and 1251x

Captured some AVI movie files using backyard EOS and the Canon t1i on the back of the c14.

The planet looked really nice in the eyepiece, but probably would have looked even better the night before as seeing conditions were about 3 times worse this morning.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Capture and process of Mars at 1251x, 1:08am 4-20-2014

Update I just realized I calculated the powers wrong in the original listing and graphic.   This was calculated without the barlow lens, so my powers are stated at 625x but should be 1251x.  I'm going to change this listing and the graphical photo soon.

I opened up at the last minute without knowing how long I'd be out at about 10pm last night. I emailed a few Faac members or texted them. I thought I'd be out for one or two hours. Nobody showed up as a visitor. I had a lot of fun looking at Jupiter and Mars and tried to capture both of these planets with my canon EOS to get a good photo.

The results of the last capture and some afternoon processing are shown below.

- Mars at 1251x.
Some details

- Should calculate power for Canon EOS t-mounted on C14 as follows 3911mm focal length times 2 divided by 50, times 1.6 for 3/4 frame sensor giving 1251x.

- Used Backyard EOS on a laptop with the Canon EOS t1i.

- Captured a 400 frame AVI movie.

- Processed it a bit on a Asus laptop using Registax 6 (this software is free off the internet.)

- Exported the image as a tiff file, imported it and processed further using Neat Image noise reduction on a Macintosh computer

- Created the chart on the iPad with a Mars Atlas Map screen shot from the same time frame.

As you can see my image is a little dark compared to the chart.

Click on the photo below to see a bigger image.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mars image from 4-18-2014

Here's one of the images we took.

Stacked about 50 out of 600 frames. The level of detail we took may not have been sufficient enough for me to orient the image to match the map from a Mars iPad app.

Image video file captured using Backyard EOS.

Conditions were poor but Mars is near opposition.

The graphic on the original post states this is at 125x but I didn't take into account the 2x barlow lens, so this was actually taken at 250x. Will update graphic soon.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Conditions were far worse than expected for Friday night viewing.

I took a nap and overslept. I woke up and found out my voicemail on my phone was full. I left my phone in another room as well so I didn't hear it when I was napping. I left my house around 10pm and found both Tim's and a new Faac member at HJRO. The sky was mostly cloudy with winds and haze not helping the views. They were looking at Jupiter. It seemed the clouds were clearing a bit, but we had somewhat poor seeing with no real improvement over a 25mm plossl with any higher powered eyepiece, when using the c14. Also the view may have even improved a bit using a lower powered 32mm eyepiece. So seeing conditions were fairly poor. Or perhaps I should say details delivered were poor. The seeing wasn't good, but the movement, from seeing wasn't as extreme as I've seen on some really bad nights with high winds.

I saw much better views of Jupiter in sky conditions a few days earlier in the week. If the seeing is bad we can still try to take an image or AVI movie of a planet and try to process that collection of stills and create a decent photo.

I tried this and used backyard EOS to capture some AVI movie files.

Here is one of the photos I processed of Jupiter below. This image is not very good. It looks a bit better than what we were seeing most of the time at the eyepiece, but it's not nearly as good as I hoped it would have been.

I would have taken a much better image of Jupiter at the end of the science night session earlier last week, when seeing was excellent, but I didn't have a camera with me at that time.

If you double click the image below you'll see a larger image in your browser.

Mars looked much better than I expected it would look. Mars is near opposition right now, which means it's giving great views through nice high powered telescopes. . . If you get a chance to see Mars, now is a good time to see it.

I'll post a photo of Mars in my next blog entry.

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Will be open tonight at 9pm

The observatory will be open tonight at 9pm.

Objects of interest include Jupiter and Mars. The moon will rise around 12:15pm and that will decrease the visibility of faint objects in the sky as it's almost full and fairly bright.

Anyone can visit the observatory when it's open. Children under 18 need to bring a parent or guardian when we don't have teachers present.

Tim Campbell and Dr. Timothy Dey should be at the observatory much of the time. I may be out there for an hour or so. The observatory will likely be open until about midnight. Hours are often dependent on astronomy club members desires to stay out and observe so sometimes we stay open much later than advertised and enjoy observing.

Some teachers were notified about our being open so some student and their parents may arrive. Depending on those who show up the program or what's available can change. Sometimes if nobody shows up the few astronomers present end up imaging. We often do more visual observing when many new guests arrive.

Below is a partial image of the sun that I took through our solar telescope at HJRO last week when nobody could show up to observe.

I took this image using a digital camcorder through an eyepiece. To get a decent image the camcorder had to zoom in a bit and we are only seeing part of the sun. We use safe solar telescopes when observing the sun. Please don't observe the sun unless you are using a safe solar telescope, often sold by astronomy stores found on the internet.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Didn't open up tonight

Was open last night very late, to do some configuration tests for future Planetary photography using the Stellacam.

The setup didn't go as smooth as I hoped.

Tonight there was a slight chance I'd open up but the weather wasn't going to offer great skies. I fell asleep taking a nap at 9pm with a very sore back ache. My short nap turned into a long nap and I wok up at 2am.

Watched some Netflix. A video about histories mysteries, with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Then wrote up a bunch of stuff on my laptop, that doesn't make a lot of sense. Saw the sky was still clear, but I'm not gong out. . .

There are other events happening away from HJRO and it's supposed to rain this Thursday evening, so I don't think I'll be opening up HJRO Thursday night.

I might open up Friday, but many of the Faac members may be out at the school outreach event out near novi. That's a bit far for me to drive to, with HJRO nearby. . . So I might open up Friday. . . I'm kind of playing it by ear, as I've been pretty busy with other things like getting my tax refund finished.

I have a huge todo list right now and need to get a bunch of normal things done. I've been reading up a bit and studying mirror building techniques this week. . . Mostly to screen stuff out there because a new member had some mirror building questions.

There is a lot of stuff out there on mirror building, most of it is in the form of quick tips, on YouTube videos for example. They cover different techniques and ideas, but it's kind of experimental and something that one learns bh doing the process. The old school way of building telescopes was more defined. There seems to be a lot more talk about newer techniques and different newer ideas, which of course may work better, but are really much less standardized and less defined. . . Compared to the old ways of doing things. We used to for example use two mirror blanks two piece of glass one being the mirror tool and the other the mirror. With two identical piece of glass being the same size, the technique was pretty much standardized. With newer techniques to save on cost or do advanced mirrors, there is a lot of talk about sub diameter mirror tools, smaller sized tools that are smaller than the main mirror one grinds for a telescope. There is a lot of talk about making a tool out of plaster. This to save on the cost of having a mirror blank or tool that costs as much as your mirror does. To sve money mirror builders create a tool out of plaster or some use metal tools from barbell weights, etc. These different techniques save money but are much different and create different experimental techniques.

Most of the guys in the FAAC club that built mirrors built them a long time ago, and they don't build them now, because they don't want to do the physical work and strain their backs with a lot of long grinding and polishing techniques. It's much faster to buy a finished mirror or repurpose a mirror from a telescope and build a new telescope design. So a lot of modern do it yourself builders, use a mirror they buy and just assemble and built the tube or frame of the telescope.

Some members of the FAAC club build or machine telescope parts as well. These guys of course have a lot of shop and machine experience, so they can build some really wonderful devices and parts for astronomy.

A few members build parts for telescopes and sell them to the public as well.

One club members builds parts as a side business called Telescope Support Systems. Another member of Faac, Eric Webster, builds custom dobsonian telescopes known as Webster Telescopes, build here in Detroit. Webster telescopes builds telescopes with mirrors created by premium telescope mirror builders who build customized mirrors for high end amateur astronomers. Mirror builders like Mike Lockwood, or Carl Zambuto. These mirror builders build large mirrors which are very close to being perfect mirrors and are very expensive. .

There are perhaps less than a half dozen premium mirror builders in the northern hemisphere. There may be some optical shops that gild premium mirrors as well, which don't have the name of the builder prominently known. Some custom mirror building companies, of course may build mirrors with very high quality, custom telescopes that are very high priced and end up being built for observatories or NASA projects. These systems are generally priced well out of the range of most amateur astronomers.

I'm starting to get into rambling on about mirror building now, so I'll stop writing. . . Time for me to take another nap.

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