This two images of the Orion Nebula
were taken using a smartphone hand-held in front of the 2” lens.
This evening I observed a few DSOs with my Skywatcher 150/750
Newtonian on my little Skywatcher EQ-3 Pro mount. Doing visual
astronomy is normally not really my thing but I wanted to give it a
try. I was surprised, how much of M42 the Orion Nebula was visible
trough my little 6” newtonian scope. But than I couldn’t resist
to hold my LG G6 in front of the lens to shoot some images. I then
tried to get the exposure time of that single frame exactly in such a
way that it would match the experience with the eye. So here they
I took video files of both
planets on the morning of the 23th of January. It was a
Wednesday so I was (again) in a hurry. Setting up the scope was not
that hard but keeping the last trouble with the moving Venus in mind
I took one more look through the polarscope to align a bit more
properly than last time. Then I searched and found Venus. Again the
planet was so incredible bright, that was not able to choose the
right settings for exposure and focus. I tried my best ether way.
Jupiter was a more easy part. I did some over exposes videos to
capture the moons of Jupiter and then fiddled around to find the
sweet spot for exposure, gain and “brightness” (whatever this
item means). I finally managed to grab three files before I had to
end the session. Focus? A nightmare!
This time I had one target and one target only in mind (finally managed to obey my own rule!): M42. The last session gave me 32x1min light frames to work with and hence a lot of noise in the image. After setting up the scope I was about to frame the image. This was my first do-over of an object where I was about to ADD data to my already captured data-pool. I had already framed an object to my wishes as I framed M31 (Andromeda) to snugly fit into my DSLR frame. This time I had to match the previous image framing with enough precision to be able to add the two sessions together. My problem about this was that my mount tended to move even so slightly from frame to frame. So first and last frame and all the counter-re-framing had to fit as well. I did my best and framed M42 after focusing on a nearby star with my bartinov-mask. Then I hit the “run” button.
New aspect: Revisiting a target to improve quality and seeking for the next
Venus: This was a shot in hurry. On morning the 5th of December I set up the scope in a hurry to capture Venus. Polar alignment, balancing: All quick and dirty because of the limited amount of time. The result was a hard job to even find Venus with the scope and the attached webcam. After finding Venus I struggled with the right driver-settings. Venus was so incredible bright that even focussing was a nightmare. The bad polar alignment made I just worse. Venus, taken with a 3x barlow, hurried to leave the FOV whenever I thought that I got the settings right. Then I needed to reslew and start all over again. I managed to capture one video file with a very unstable Venus and an unclear focus.
The image was taken at
dawn right before sunrise. Moon was three quarters on its way to new
moon and Venus was very very bright standing next to the Moon.
Because sunrise was close the dark side of the moon was lit enough to
see some details. Catching both the bright and the dark site of the
moon with the old Canon compact camera was not possible but I took
some images of the bright side showing some craters and some images
of the dark side (longer exposures) so faintly show some surface
details as well. The view of the two bodies in the night sky was very
pretty to watch.
I really want to do a stitching of both sides of the moon – dark and bright side!
This are two images taken
by my brother in Denmark. They show parts of the Milky Way and the
Pleiades with my brother standing in the foreground. As the stars
shine for him he uses his searchlight to connect with them.
Acquisition and Processing can be told by himself.
New aspect: Taking the first close up surface images of the moon with a modded Logitech webcam
When imaging the Mars with the modded webcam in the last session I recognised just how hard it is to get the focus right. So a member of a astro forum (Hi Carole!) pointed me towards the moon. Focusing the moon with its sharp crisp contrast is much more easy than focusing wobbly blurry planets. So I tried the moon as a target for this session. Finding the moon, aligning finder scope and main scope, getting the polar alignment roughly working: all that was done in a minute. Fining the right balance between exposure time, gain, “brightness” and stuff was a completely different story. The Logitech webcam can only be set through the Logitech driver interface and that doesn’t really work smooth with SharpCap, the image acquisition tool I used (and still use). For changing any of the parameters above you have to switch from SharpCap to the driver interface. Gain is called something like “sensitivity” and nobody knows what “brightness” really means… SharpCap has no authority/ability to access the settings of the webcam directly. That’s a shame. So after fiddling around with the settings I tried a few video-files with and without barlow lens. Some were dark, some too bright.
New aspects: First use of modded Logitech webcam – Fist stacking of unguided DSLR shots
Mars: After fiddling around with the old Canon compact camera “PowerShot SX240 HS” held in front of my eyepieces I ordered a cheap Logitech webcam and modded it for the purpose of using it as an astro camera. The modification was quite simple: I removed the lens in front of the sensor and turned off the status LED. Then I glued an old film roll casing in front of the webcam. This casing happened to have exactly the same diameter as the 1 1/4” eyepieces (accident?). So with the help of “Sharpcap” and the drivers from Logitech I was able to grab a short .avi video of Mars with the camera in prime focus. I tried about ten videos with different exposure and gain settings refocusing between each videos. With the webcam and its drivers I got about 30 fps witch is not too bad for this modded equipment. On the SharpCap screen I could see Mars as a reddish disk wobbling around, showing me the bad seeing conditions. Nevertheless I actually could see some darker areas on the surface just by looking at the unstacked video files. A new area!
On a clear evening I
tried to capture the Orion Nebula M42 with my Smartphone LG G4 f1.8.
Therefore I needed to sort out some things: What is the maximum
possible exposure length with the unknown focal length of my
smartphone? I knew the 1/400-rule by which you need to divide the
focal length of your camera by 400 to get the maximum exposure length
without getting star trails. But the focal length of the inert lens
system was unknown to me, so I needed to try different lengths and
play around. Second thing was the right ISO setting. Stars should be
visible but the background needed to be settle and dark enough. I
ended up with ISO 400 and 20sec exposures.
This was a very
short run on Saturn in the early morning. I got up earlier than usual
and build up the rig outside in the dawn. Saturn was about to set
when I was ready. I clipped the old compact Canon camera in front of
the 10mm eyepiece with barlow lens attached. The kids took their
chance to see Saturns rings on the display and I took the chance to
take a few minutes of .mov video files.