Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jupiter ANIMATION Io and Ganymede

This night was a lucky night.  I had not looked at the weather forecast enough to know  it would be good or not.  Cold temps aside, I decided day of to setup and go out with the 14" f/4.5 scope ( +Akule ).  As an added bonus +Mitchell Duke tipped me off to a transit of the Jovian moon, Ganymede.  Looking closer at the ephemeris Io was slipping into Jupiter's own shadow and disappearing behind the disk of Jupiter just a couple of minutes before the Ganymede transit.  That stability of the atmosphere, seeing, was also favorable.

Additional details I provided to a reddit post regarding my blog entry:

I shoot the planets with my 14" f/4.5 (native focal length is 1600mm). I add a 5x barlow which gets me close to 9200mm (isn't not preciesly 5x but varies) Then I add a monochrome Flea3 camera from PointGrey Research. To get color I shoot with filters to give me Red, Green and Blue images. Each color image consists of capturing many frames of each color as fast as I can. I shoot the red at 120 frames per second (FPS), then the same for the green and bit slower for the blue as it's not as sensitive. So for example the red is running at 120fps for 30seconds. That nets me ~3,600 images (stored in .avi video format), again for green and then blue. Wait on second and start another sequence of R, G and B, 30s, 30s, and 30s. So each color image is 90 total seconds of capturing. I capture back to back and if you can believe it, the moon Io (right one) moves so fast in 90seconds I had to adjust the color channels in the final image. I capture many RGB runs back to back for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I use a very sophisticated program called WINJupos to derotate (a method of combining individual images that have rotated to a different central meridian or longitude) all of them. This increases the signal-to-noise present in each of the single RGB runs. I also capture many RGB runs in order to make a cool animation of the moons moving and planet rotating.

Raw frames as promised: Nearly the worst of a single sequence of red filtered images

Best of 3600 frames in Red:

Normally I stack the best 75% of the 3,600 frames in AutoStakkert which uses a process called 'lucky imaging'
After stacking I sharpen using some deconvolution tricks in AstraImage. I also combine the filtered monochrome frames to a composite RGB.
Then derotation win WINJupos.
Then photoshop magic like denoise, color, high pass filters, rgb channel alignments.
I have yet to look at the features on Ganymede to see if they're accurate or if I just messed up in my processing treatment.

Video assembly was done with stills hand processed in Photoshop per the above prescription and then some Photoshop actions for the mundane processing (I highly recommend PS actions!)  Then the stills are copied and renumbered to move forwards then backwards with a simple python script.  Then, again in python, I used 10 differing frame rates to render 10 separate videos.  FPS values are [3,6,9,12,15,18,21,24,27,30].  These 10 rendered videos are then renumbered to start slow and then move faster each time, building to a maximum then slowing back down.  I rendered each of those videos 2x times in openshot where I also added the title screens and music that I stumbled upon via  It was literally the 2nd song I clicked on in the classical/ambient section and I think matches the video quite well.

Thanks to all who shared their joy with me in this post!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Jupiter on 20140104 in good seeing with Io and Ganymede

I will be spending some time with this as I've not gotten good images in quite some time.  This may just be one of the best shots I've ever taken.

My fatal flaw in the past half dozen times out may have been lack of over-cooling and setting up too near to the warm house in the cold winter.  I also had been setting up near my family van, which while cool and not having run for several hours, may have been retaining heat differently than the ground.
So I moved as far away from the house and neighbors house as possible and I think that helped some.  I also started cooling the spit out of the mirror, aggressively.  Even when cooled for hours in the winter the heat in the pyrex mirror comes back.  I think there's a small heat engine inside that beast!  I think managing the local thermal conditions at night is a bit of a razors edge and the slightest little change means quite a bit!

I don't often get clear skies for a transit of Ganymede and wanted to make the best of it.  So I shortened my capture duration and ran 30 of them back to back with the camera settings embedded in the image Red for 30s, Green for 30s, Blue for 30s, pause a second and repeat.  I'm amazed at how much Io moves in 90seconds.  The planet's features don't change much in 90s for my resolution, but the inner moon, Io moves FAST!

I have a work in progress animation that will probably get uploaded to YouTube and become an adjunct post to this later on.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Solar System bests in review

What a great 2013!

Starting in the lower left, you find Earth.  A planet we all call home.  In the right conditions of day and night, often called dusk, if you look up you can experience the surrealism of our place in this universe.  On the cold and breezy night of March 13th, my dad and I took a quick trip to Lake Wheeler to find Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS).  It was quite a site above the moon don't you agree +David Phillips 

The rest of the full sized, original albums are here:

Target highlights include:
All 8 major planets (including scenic Earth)
1 dwarf / former planet = PLUTO on 3 nights (see animation below)
3x Asteroids
4x Comets
10x moons (including our own, Luna)
2x artificial satellites
1 meteor
1 Sun (First full disk)
Plenty of stars and other faint fuzzies from my CCD upgrade (

Other Highlights:
Pluto animation of movement on 3 nights

Asteroid 1998 QE2 animation

This year I upgraded to a CCD from DSLR and have branched out fairly seriously into DSO imaging.  As a result I also figured out how to use a minor planet / comet detection software package, Astrometrica.  This should get me closer to the goal of discovering a new comet or asteroid.
At the least I should have plenty more asteroids next year, but this was the year of the comet with record 4 that I imaged in a single year.

This year is the sixth in a row (  Thanks to all who made 2013 a great year.  Tip of the hat to +Mike Salway for the great idea and inspiration.

Here's to the best for everyone in 2014! 

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About Me

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Loving husband, proud father, computer geek, astro freak, music lover, sports nut and general fun-loving guy

I think I'm the kind of person who doesn't like strong opinions.  It doesn't matter if I agree with your opinion or not, it's not factual, it never will be 100% factual and I don't care for it.  That's probably why I hate politics.

I've always loved facts, provable facts of nature and things concerning science.  

Over time, I found that most facts are mostly reference and it was the creation of and discovery of new things that intrigued me.

"A good friend once told me you are our memory
without them we equal nothing
And all I can see is the place I wanna be
Suddenly my life was so free
Leaves at my feet, blown to the ground
their echoes are reaching my ears
Nights coming fast, suns going down" - A7x