Waxing crescent moon with Galileoscope

I still didn’t get an adapter to mount the Galileoscope, but improvised a bit today to take an image of the waxing crescent moon. This was taken at dusk when the sky was still fairly bright, but it still appears black due to the short exposure time.

My main plan for the evening was actually to catch ATV-4 zipping across the Moon as predicted by Heavens Above, but I didn’t even see the space craft. I suspect the prediction was out of date due to all the maneuvering taking place the day before the planned docking.

Fairly decent ISS shot

This is my second attempt at an ISS shot. It certainly turned out better than the first:

Well, technically it may have been the third attempt because there were two passes this night and I botched up the first (tracked diligently but forgot to take pictures …).

I track manually while continually acquiring images and try to keep ahead of it in the finder, then let it drift over the chip area. One eye needs to stay glued to the finder while the ISS moves from near the horizon to almost overhead. It is probably the most sportive activity I engage in, as it requires to slowly shift from one yoga-like half-crouch position to the next for several minutes.

Currently ISS is trailed in its orbit by Albert Einstein, the automated transfer vehicle ATV4. It passed about 10 minutes later and I tried to take pictures of it, but as it is much smaller it remained an unimpressive dot.


Six moons and a planet

In the race to take best resolution images of Jupiter and Saturn at highest powers and frame rates, the moons often get neglected. Personally, I do like to see entire systems with their ever-changing view.

Of course, the moons are fainter than the planet so usually the planet will be terribly overexposed when the moons are imaged. At the cost of photometric unscientificness, this can be overcome by merging multiple exposure times in a single image. Here is one of Saturn that shows six of its moons, including faint Hyperion at around 15th magnitude.

And because that is really just a lot of dots without context, here is an annotated version

The process I use is to take a few short exposure frames as for normal planetary images, then one or two longer exposures, then repeat. Each of these frame sets is combined into a meta-frame by some scripting fu that attempts to pull signal from the longer exposures into the dark areas of the shorter exposures. The composite frames can then be stacked as usual. I made a similar one in March for Jupiter

For that one I actually took a gazillion frames over three hours in the hope of making a video out of it once I fully automate the compositing process. Unfortunately I seem to be building up a bit of an image processing backlog. Even now, while I’m trying to reduce the pile, the sky turned clear and the telescope is collecting data outside – argh!