Friday, June 27, 2014

Mars 2014 ANIMATION!

Mars 2014 ANIMATION!

Using 7 processed and derotated source images from 7 different nights as seen in the labeled WinJUPOS map

Using Photoshop to feather out the seams, this map used for the final animation
A brief and related tutorial on processing Mars is here:

Akule Planetary Equipment H/W

Type: Custom Home Built Newtonian
Aperture: 356mm (14")
Focal Ratio: f/4.5 - 5x TeleVue Powermate at f/26 / 9,315mm EFL
Primary Mirror: Carl Zambuto 14" f/4.5
Camera: Point Grey Research Flea3 - FL3-FW-03S1M (monochrome)
Color Filter Wheel: True Technology UK (Tru-Tek) - SupraSlim with Visual Wide Wheel (built in diagonal)
Filters: Baader Planetarium LRGB Telescope Filter Set
Filters: Astronomik ProPlanet 742 IR-pass filter

Akule Planetary Processing S/W

OS: Lenovo W530 (Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit)
Acquisition: Torsten Edelmann’s Firecapture
Processing: AutoStakkert 2 -> AstraImage -> WinJUPOS -> PhotoShop -> Gimp

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mars' 2014 retrograde colors, a look back to my images this apparition.

As Mars only comes around every other year I pursued the red planet fairly aggressively this time around.  I had a few nights that ended up solely on the cutting room floor and the rest are presented here.  19 nights worth of images.


My images do not match the timing of the real retrograde motion of Mars as my observations are spotty based upon weather and time.  Retrograde motion is explained here, 

My images start in the lower right back in December of 2013, when Mars' apparent size was a mere 6.7 arc seconds. Mars begins my image's 'normal motion' through to April 1st, 2014 and then begins retrograde until my image on May 13th.  Again these are not the dates of the real retrograde but an aesthetic representation for the sake of a pleasing looking image.  I left a bit of room at top in case I get any more chances this year but the past few weeks have been quite stormy and had no chances to get anything of worth.

Highlights include a published image on on  March 29 (

and a few animations....

I didn't get Phobos or Diemos this year.

I do plan to make a full globe animation from the above images if that's what you're wondering!

Thanks for sharing this great ride with me watching the red planet and all the changes in weather and detail.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Asteroid Trifecta with animation.

I've got the bug, the bug of observing minor planets.  I think it started with the pass of Eros in 2012 (  When treating my images I found another little drifter, faintly moving through . I was hooked!  I thought I had discovered something. Turned out the classic case of what's new to me was something already discovered in 1886 but whatever. In learning more since then I've struggled with getting the hang of things. After upgrading from a DSLR to a CCD I found myself reinvigorated. With some recent clear skies and a bit more patience and some growing discipline I have observed this group of three asteroids; (1530) Rantaseppa, (4478) Blanco, and (4687) Brunsandrej. All within the same FOV for my scope and camera of 37.5 x 28.3 arcmin.  Then in an effort to get a +Minor Planet Center designation I found them again a few days later, all still 'apparently' together.

Using Astrometrica to measure position and magnitude you will see the number designation followed by the magnitude in parentheses.

NOTE there are MANY other asteroids in this fov as there are most, but my 2min subs in the 14" didn't quite make out the fainter, say mag18-20+ objects.  Not yet!

Night one - 20140221

Full field

(1530) Rantaseppa

(4478) Blanco

(4687) Brunsandrej

Boring! it was fun to see, but on Night 2

Night TWO - 20140224

In this video you will see an animation of the three asteroids moving over the course of 23:27 to 23:45 EDT or just 17 minutes of movement!

Easiest to click the direct YouTube link and make fullscreen HD (

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