Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Mars rotation - Saturn moon hunt


Living in London, but in general being on the northern hemisphere drives amateur astronomers to the obvious conclusion, that Mars and Saturn are way out of our reach, at least from a photographer's point of view., Mars crawls only 16°  above the horizon.  It is going to be like this for a while, so I stopped getting angry about it and decided to make the most of it.

Mars rotation

Early wake up today, weather report predicted clear sky over London, seeing wasn't the best but hey, who has any expectations in this town?? :)
So set the alarm for 2am, after 3 hours of sleeping I did my usual quick setup on my balcony.

Had to wait a little for Mars till I had a clear view on it. Focused on the Moon and started shooting. my first video was taken at 2:40am and the last at 3:31am.

I used my beloved Skywatcher 127/1500 maksutov tube, a TeleVue 2.5x Powermate with my ASI 120MC colour camera with settings like this:
- gain 65
- shutter 7.830

It amazed me how much this red planet rotated just under one hour duration.


Mars and Saturn played hide and seek with the trees in front of me. When one was visible, the other one was obscured by the trees and the other way around. So at least I had time to spend on both without being rushed.

This was the original video I shot.....

This normally does not look promising, but I tried to get the best out of it using Autostakkert 2, Registax 6 and Photoshop. Saturn is at magnitude +0.2, so I had struggled with it compared to Mars (magnitude -1.3). It means that longer videos required for the same amount of frames as frame rate is lower due less amount of light hitting the sensor of the camera.

After processing this is my best, I could dig out some useful details.....

Also took a long video with more sensitive settings. It was quite challenging to capture any of them. The visual magnitude of the two moons were +9.0 (Titan) and +10.2 (Rhea).

And eventually these are all my Saturn shots I've ever took since I do astronomy. In a few years time this will be one of my best photos, if I can keep on taking shots every year...

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