Imaging Mars in 2014

Blog the previous nights viewing. Link to images on the gallery or simply describe what you observed the night before. Leave the technical and howto in another forum.
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rwilkinson
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Imaging Mars in 2014

#1 Post by rwilkinson » Wed Apr 09, 2014 7:48 am

Last night I was busy until 10pm, but still managed to grab some images of Mars before the clouds rolled in an hour later.
I was using my Philips webcam in "Colour RAW" mode, and capturing with SharpCap1.4 on an ancient WinXP laptop. I had my Barlow-lens and flip-mirror on the back of my Celestron C8, so it was operating at around f/36.
As usual, the image quality improved as time went on, as the planet got higher in the sky and the thermal air-currents in my telescope tube settled down. But the image was still very wobbly, as the target was low in the sky, and over the top of neighbouring houses (and their boiler exhausts!).
But still, this is my first image of the Red Planet since 2012:
mars_8Apr_2304.jpg
Mars on 8-Apr-2014. 450 frames stacked using RegiStax6, with subsequent processing in IRIS.
mars_8Apr_2304.jpg (7.95 KiB) Viewed 4841 times

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Re: Imaging Mars in 2014

#2 Post by rwilkinson » Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:15 am

The "seeing" was a little better last night, and I'd left my 'scope outside to cool for an hour before setting up for imaging.
I'd also been experimenting on daylight targets earlier, to find better settings when using the webcam in "colour RAW" mode.
mars_10Apr_2248.jpg
Mars on 10-Apr-2014. 425 frames stacked using RegiStax6 and then processed in IRIS
mars_10Apr_2248.jpg (9.25 KiB) Viewed 4825 times
It needed some patience to take advantage of the sporadic gaps in the wispy cloud, but as a bonus, I saw the ISS fly over just before 10pm.

Amartin

Re: Imaging Mars in 2014

#3 Post by Amartin » Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:56 am

Good that for a little webcam Ross
Why haven't you put it up on the gallery? It's certainly worthy especially as you've had the patience to catch it through the clouds!

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Re: Imaging Mars in 2014

#4 Post by rwilkinson » Sun Apr 13, 2014 6:13 am

Good conditions for viewing Mars last night - and none of those pesky clouds! :D
There was even a trace of the polar ice-cap:
mars 12_04_2014 21_50.jpg
Mars on 12-Apr. Stack of best 480 of 500 frames. Webcam in colour RAW mode and all processing in RegiStax6 this time.
mars 12_04_2014 21_50.jpg (6.38 KiB) Viewed 4797 times
Last edited by rwilkinson on Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Imaging Mars in 2014

#5 Post by rwilkinson » Fri Apr 18, 2014 7:10 pm

This image was taken through a Celestron 60mm achromat, using my old Philips TouCam webcam running its original firmware (i.e. not RAW-mode). In order to gain some more magnification with this f=700mm 'scope, I used a low-cost Barlow lens plus a star-diagonal to provide more extension between that and the CCD.
mars 16_04_2014 20_09_3.jpg
Mars on 16-Apr. Stack of 450 frames, processed entirely in RegiStax6.
mars 16_04_2014 20_09_3.jpg (2.71 KiB) Viewed 4757 times
And my new electronic "Focus-pocus" attachment made it much easier to achieve focus without having to wait for the image to stop wobbling after each adjustment.

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Not a good night for imaging Mars!

#6 Post by rwilkinson » Thu Jun 19, 2014 7:49 am

Although it's well past opposition, Mars is still well-placed in the SW after sunset, so I had a go at imaging it last night. At least the temperature is comfortable for outdoor twilight imaging at this time of year (although the midges can be a nuisance!)

I had to move to the very bottom of the garden to get a view of it over the house roof - an extra mains extension-lead was needed! But then I found that the seeing was very poor - the planetary image was writhing in and out of focus, and bouncing around my webcam sensor. As well as the warm air radiated from the roof, it was quite breezy: I could hear each gust rustling the foliage of the trees behind me.
But I did capture a few 500-frame video sequences, and stacked the best 100 frames from the first of these:
mars_18jun2014.jpg
Mars on 18-Jun, using Philips webcam on C8 with Barlow lens. 100 frames stacked in RegiStax5.1 and then processed in IRIS.
mars_18jun2014.jpg (20.12 KiB) Viewed 4541 times
I wasn't expecting to get any surface detail from such a poor video sequence, but there are a few markings faintly visible, and it's clear that the planetary disk is not fully-illuminated.

Then as I was packing away, I found that looking from outside the back-door I could see the planet quite clearly in the gap between the houses, so I may try setting up my tripod there (once I've moved the green bin!)...

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