Monday, 30 June 2014

Midsummer Planets

During the light nights of summer here in the UK, planets are an ideal target. Unfortunately, we are also rather far North for good planetary imaging, as they are low in the southern sky, but this didn't stop me. I used the new iOptron mount with the Schmidt Cassegrain 9.25 inch f/10. After attempting a focal length of 11.5m, I also tried cutting it back to 5m and got just as good results. With the imaging source colour webcam, I recorded video with a range of exposures of Saturn and Mars. The mount tracked well despite a quick manual align. I manually fused the long and short exposures of Saturn in Photoshop after trying out the "Merge to HDR function" with less success. So the photo includes moons (L to R) Dione, Rhea, Tethys and Enceladus - just, below the planet. Mars also had a distinct phase (88%) and is only 9.9 arc seconds tall (phase mask added). Vaguely visible are Mare Acidalium (top centre) and Mare Erythraeum (bottom) as the North pole is tilted toward us. Taken 22UT 24th June 14.

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