Solar system

Although I am more interested in visual work, taking images of solar_system and Deep Sky objects is good fun as well. For the solar system imaging InFINNity Deck is equipped with a ZWO ASI174MM camera and a ZWO motorised Filter Wheel for 5 x 31 mm filters. The latter has been loaded with filters for Luminance, Red, Green and Blue.

Sun

The sun imaged on 9 June 2018 using the Lunt. At nine o'clock a small protuberance can be seen.
Figure 1: The sun imaged on 9 June 2018 using the Lunt. At nine o'clock a small protuberance can be seen.
The natural celestial objects nearest to earth are of course those found in our Solar System. Closest to earth is the moon, which gives stunning views, even at the lowest modest magnification. The sun (see figure 1) is the closest star to earth. Light only takes 8 minutes to arrive here. Using the Lunt LS80THA nice images can be made of the granulation on its surface and of the solar flares (protuberances) around the edge. Currently (2018) the sun's activity is at its lowest point, resulting in a rather dull view with only minor protuberances and an occasional sun spot.

A better picture of the sun, taken on 19 March 2019, with a turbo-prop plane flying past.
Figure 2: A better picture of the sun, taken on 19 March 2019, with a turbo-prop plane flying past.
In March 2019 I experimented with the Lunt to improved the quality of the images taken through the Lunt. From another Dutch amateur astronomer I learned to improve my processing. Although the Sun is still quite dull, having something in the foreground makes the image much more attractive. Just above the cockpit a small sunspot can be seen, while above the left wing a protuberance can be spotted.

The sun as imaged on 9 May 2019. It seems sun spot season started again.
Figure 3: The sun as imaged on 9 May 2019. It seems sun spot season started again.
Ever since InFINNity Deck became operational the sun was quite boring, only occasionally showing some activity. That changed a few weeks ago and now it starts to be interesting again as can be seen in this image. The large sun spot at the right is number 2741.

A solar flare as seen on 29 July 2019.
Figure 4: A solar flare as seen on 29 July 2019.
Recently I received a M42 to 2" adapter for the blocking filter of my Lunt. This adapter allows to include a barlow in the optical path. On 29 July 2019 I tested it for the first time using a TeleVue 4x PowterMate and ZWO ASI174MM. A movie of 10,000 frames was shot in 40 seconds, processed in AutoStakkert using sharpening and finally enhanced, colourised and sharpened in PSP. In the lower left corner the Earth is shown at scale.

Moon

The Moon imaged on 22 July 2018.
Figure 5: The Moon imaged on 22 July 2018.
Our closest celestial companion is of course our own Moon. Adjacent image is a composite of two images taken with the SkyWatcher Esprit 150ED and ZWO ASI174 planetary camera. Being close-by the moon provides stunning views that change by the day due to the moving terminator (the region between day and night on the moon).

Mars

Mars as seen on 21 July 2018 23:30 UTC.
Figure 6: Mars as seen on 21 July 2018 23:30 UTC.
The rock next from earth, as seen from the sun, is Mars. This month (31 July 2018) Mars will be in opposition, which means it reaches its closest distance from earth. This year it even reaches the closest distance for the last and coming 20 years. Sadly enough Mars is experiencing the perfect storm. It started on 19 June 2018 and is expected to last until September this year. These storms on Mars cause dust to cover the whole globe, making the planet a dull orange ball. The adjacent image was my first attempt, taken on 21 July 2018 with the C11 using a 2 x Barlow and ZWO ASI174 camera. Seeing was far from great (a warm summer night), resulting in this rather blurry image. Despite the poor image quality the polar regions are visible.

Jupiter

Jupiter with Ganymede and Io as seen on 23 July 2018..
Figure 7: Jupiter with Ganymede and Io as seen on 23 July 2018..
The next planet after Mars is Jupiter. It is the largest planet in the solar system and will be the subject of my next research. With its coloured bands and the bright Galilean moons it is an attractive object in the skies. Adjacent image was taken on 23 July 2018 on a warm summer night and at an altitude of only 11 degrees, causing it to be slightly blurred.

Jupiter imaged on 24 June 2019 without Barlow, my processing is stil progressing.
Figure 8: Jupiter imaged on 24 June 2019 without Barlow, my processing is stil progressing.
Still learning a lot about planetary imaging, and a long way to go. On 22 July 2019 I imaged Jupiter, but again with poor seeing. Reason was that I had just swapped my C11 XLT for a C11 EdgeHD and had acquired a ZWO ASI290MC with a ZWO ADC (Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector). Wanting to test this trio made me decide to image Jupiter despite the conditions. In the meanwhile I had learned that exposure time should be kept as short as possible (10ms in this case), while the stack length should be as large as possible.

On 24 July seeing was reasonable, but sadly enough it came with a thin cloud cover. As I wanted to experiment with various settings in recording and processing, I took images of Jupiter despite the conditions.

Image taken with C11 EdgeHD, no PowerMate, ZWO ASI290MC. Video of 11000 frames of which 1100 were stacked.

Animation of Jupiter as imaged on 25 June 2019.
Figure 9: Animation of Jupiter as imaged on 25 June 2019.
On 25 June 2019 seeing finally became quite good. A total of 108Gb of data was collected during twelve recordings over a period of 1 hour, 3 minutes and 57 seconds using the C11 EdgeHD, ZWO ASI290MC, ZWO ADC, and Televue 2x PowerMate. Capturing was done using FireCapture, while processing was done in AutoStakkert and PaintShop pro. The twelve recordings were processed to become 12 jpeg files, which were then combined using an online gif-animation maker.

Jupiter as imaged on 29 June 2019 with Io and Ganymedes.
Figure 10: Jupiter as imaged on 29 June 2019 with Io and Ganymedes.
On 29 June 2019 I imaged Jupiter again. This evening Io and Ganymedes were close to the planet and could be captured in the same frame. Io is the moon at the top, Ganymedes at the bottom. The time-lapse consists of 5 frames spanning 36 minutes and 12 seconds. A total of 65Gb of data was collected with the C11 EdgeHD, 2x PowerMate, ZWO ASI290MC and ZWO ADC.

Saturn

Saturn as seen on 21 July 2018 23:00 UTC.
Figure 11: Saturn as seen on 21 July 2018 23:00 UTC.
Saturn is one of those magical objects for visual observing. Surrounded by a disc (or rather multiple discs) of debris, Saturn is always great fun to look at and nice to photograph. The adjacent image was my first attempt, taken on 21 July 2018 23:00 UTC with the C11 using a 2 x Barlow and ZWO ASI174 camera. Seeing was far from great (a warm summer night), while the altitude was just under 14 degrees, resulting in this rather blurry image.

Saturn as imaged on 25 June 2019.
Figure 12: Saturn as imaged on 25 June 2019.
On 25 June 2019 seeing was quite reasonable. After having collected the data for the animation of Jupiter I had some disc space left for a bit of data of Saturn. It can be noticed that the disc is getting flatter again, now no longer visible behind the top edge of the planet. Imaging was done using a C11 EdgeHD with 2x PowerMate Barlow, ZWO ASI290MC and ZWO ADC. A total of 10000 frames was shot at 12ms shutter speed, 1000 of which were stacked to create this image.

Saturn as imaged on 29 June 2019.
Figure 13: Saturn as imaged on 29 June 2019.
On 29 June 2019 the forecast was good again, so another attempt was made on Saturn. Imaging was done using a C11 EdgeHD without Barlow, ZWO ASI290MC and ZWO ADC. A total of 60000 frames was shot at 5ms shutter speed, 12000 of which were stacked to create this image.

Saturn on 22 July 2019, 23:20 UTC using the SkyWatcher Esprit 150ED.
Figure 14: Saturn on 22 July 2019, 23:20 UTC using the SkyWatcher Esprit 150ED.
On 22 July 2019 seeing was very reasonable and so another attempt was made to get a proper picture of Saturn. This time I used both the C11 EdgeHD and the Esprit 150ED (2x PowerMate ZWO ASI290MC), but as the latter gave a slightly more detailed image, it is this one that is shown here. For the image 8751 frames were captured in 120 seconds, 20% of which were stacked in AutoStakkert with 3x drizzle and post-processed in PSP.

The Cassini divide is clearly visible, but with some imagination the Encke divide is visible as well. From outside inwards the visible rings shown here are divided in the following parts (there are other divisions at the outside).

Saturn on 22 July 2019, 22:54 UTC using the C11 EdgeHD.
Figure 15: Saturn on 22 July 2019, 22:54 UTC using the C11 EdgeHD.
  • Ring A, containing the Encke and Keeler Gaps, ending at the Cassini division;
  • The Cassini division with on its inside the Huygens Gap
  • Ring B, the lighter section, starting at the inside of the Huygens Gap;
  • Ring C, which is slightly darker than Ring B and contains Maxwell and Colombo Gaps (both not visible);
  • Ring D, a quite dark ring inside ring C (well visible);
  • (Ring F at the outside of ring A, but not visible here, the gap between A and F is called the Roche division).
Adjacent image was taken that same evening, half an hour before the one taken with the Esprit. This time using the C11 EdgeHD and ZWO ASI290MC without barlow, 60000 frames were shot, 1200 of which were stacked using AutoStakkert. Post-processing was done using PSP.

If you have any questions and/or remarks please let me know.


InFINNity Deck Astrophotography Astro-Software
Solar system Deep Sky