Sunday 19 February 2012


I had another go tonight. I set my scope up at 6.00 pm and was onto Jupiter very quickly. The first thing I did was make sure I was definitely saving files. I then had a look in the camera configuration and was able to turn the gain down to the point where I could begin to see detail on the planet, although at the expense of no longer being able to see the moons. I took many similar looking frames over the next hour, while clouds rolled in and away. This is one of the frames; I've cropped it and adjusted the brightness slightly but otherwise this is as it arrived on my laptop. There are some tools for stacking frames but I've yet to dig into that.

At 6.45 there was a very bright ISS pass - it came tantalisingly close to Jupiter, but well outside the field of the view of my scope. Not long after I ran out of battery power for the scope's RA drive - not bad given that I don't think I've ever changed the batteries.

So there you go - Jupiter, from my back garden. Pretty pleased with that.


  1. Very nice! The colour always spins me out. We saw Jupiter on Friday night (Victoria, Australia) and while the seeing came in and out and was a bit mushy, we got the Spot and the Galilean moons looking very nice all strung out on one side.

  2. Alastair, I love this. And "Jupiter from my back garden" must be a story someday, don't you think?

  3. Kinda looks like a blindfolded orange M&M.

  4. That's a pretty good first attempt. To capture the moons you'll have to do a separate set of exposures and then later combine the images. Jupiter is just too bright to get the moons in too using the same settings.

    I think you need to adjust the 'Duration' (exposure time) instead of the gain. If I remember correctly gain adds extra noise into the equation so in general you would want that as low as possible.

    Now you need to stack the images and pull out all the extra detail. Registax should work best for planets.

    Here's my best attempt at Jupiter with the 'cheap' Celestron NexImage cameras after it has been stacked and combined with an exposure of the moons.

  5. Nice! Astrophotography is a humbling hobby. It takes a fair bit of patience, time, effort and good luck (weather wise). It also helps to not have a day job and a wife that shares your interest. Meeting none of these conditions, this is my one and only result, using a Celestron 6 inch SCT and a cheapo Meade CCD:

    I was very disappointed when I did it, but looking back now a few years later at least you can see what it is. I've been meaning to have a go with Jupiter, but the above conditions have prevented me so far.


  6. Thanks for the responses to these two posts, everyone. Off to London today so nothing tonight (although the weather looks poor anyway).

  7. Al, I've been doing astrophotography for about the last eight months witha DSLR (Canon 60D) and have been pretty successful (IMHO). I've got no autoguiding solution yet, so I'm taking many short exposures and stacking them. Then a hell of a lot of post-processing to try and bring out the detail. My flickr set is here ( and you can see the progress. Part of that is a scope upgrade (Stellarvue SV102ED refractor), but more from practice.

    I haven't done much planetary work (with the exception of the one shot of Jupiter), though my DSLR will take video. When I have, I've used Registax to do the stacking. This video on YouTube ( was a pretty good tutorial both for using Registax and doing some simple post-processing in Photoshop.

    There's lots of good material on the web - I've found Jerry Lodriguss' site Catching the Light to be a pretty good introduction (

    Finally, if you don't have a Barlow lens yet, get a good one - it will help with magnification a lot.

    Good luck - looking forward to seeing more of your results!

  8. Thanks for the extremely informative post, Will. I will have a look at your flickr set later.

    I had a very useful chat with a helpful gentleman in a central London telescope shop earlier this week (The Widescreen Center) and I think I now know the direction I need to go in, which would be a relatively inexpensive piggybacked refractor for wide-field imaging. The Ultima's focal length is best suited for planetary and smaller deep-field objects. I've installed Registax and had a play with it, but I think I need a better initial data set to really get something out of it. Unfortunately the weather has clamped down since I took the Jupiter image, but I'm itching to have another go. And yes, I do have a Barlow - although it wasn't plugged in when I took the image.

  9. What about DeepSkyStacker ( I've used it once before and I found it to be relatively easy. Unfortunately, it was a really cold night the one time I tried such a thing and I haven't felt like repeating it any time since. Perhaps I should, seeing as I've acquired a nice ultra wide-angle lens.

    Anyhoo, enjoy your foray into astrophotography!

  10. I've used DSS and liked it, although it's not playing nicely on the 64 bit Windows 7 image on my mac. Nebulosity3 is also out which might install better.

    Al, a refractor is definitely the way to go. I bought a Stellarvue SV102ED at the end of November and it has made a huge difference - all my recent images have been taken with it. I did not invest in an apochromatic triplet (too rich for my blood), but Stellarvue makes some of the best doublet refractors available.

    Mars is in opposition tomorrow night, so will be giving that a shot if the weather cooperates.

  11. Great attempt, Alastair. I've been dabbling in astrophotography for the last year or so, and, with an 80ED and Celestron NexImage camera, have managed to capture Jupiter, the Sun, Venus and the moon.

    I'd recommend recording around 1,500 to 2,000 frames with a webcam, using an app such as SharpCap (, then stacking them with Registax. DeepSkyStacker is best suited for deep sky objects (e.g. galaxies, nebulae, etc.). If you record too many frames, the final image will look smeared because Jupiter rotates so fast.

    You can view my humble results here:

  12. Or I should say here:

  13. Thanks for the additional comments and tips, everyone. A combination of bad weather and travel has put paid to much more experimentation here although I did record some more frames of Jupiter the other night.