Mars Opposition '05 - Oak Ridge Observatory

Nov 5, 2005

This was the second of the two dark-sky observing opportunities for my Astro 9 class. Alas, only one student showed up - Eric. The weather was pretty iffy howerver. We had cirrus coming in ahead of a cold front, and I almost didn't come myself. Chris Kitting and Jeff Buell of the Peninsula Astronomical Society opened up the dome with the 12" Meade LX200, and Chris set up his mighty Takahashi Ortho APO 130mm refractor. I brought the Canon ZR 45mc camcorder for recording mini-DV Mars footage, and also the GM8, which Eric used with his modifed Nikon digital camera.

Chris' images are below:"Philips ToUcam recorded on a Sony camcorder in back of the Tak scope with 7.5 Tak eyepiece. Sunlight white balance, medium gamma, medium low gain, and ~1/60 s shutter speed . I had found that the Astronomik IR cut filter does not effect the TOA image, except to dim it (at least a stop) in a webcam. Extra red and extra shutter speed did nicely without the IR cut, on the TOA. I cropped before aligning and stacking, then used MINIMAL: unsharp mask, gaussian blur, then Laplacian pyramid sharpening. The latter is the best."

A stack of the 20 sharpest frames out of 260, at my suggestion.

Same, but best 133 out of 260 frames, and altered color balance. I think it's slightly blurrier, but also has less pixel to pixel noise.

...and further post-processed in Photoshop.

Jeff Buell at the 12" LX200

I expected a noticably sharper image by taking the best 20 frames instead of the best 133 frames, but the difference is almost undetectable. Interesting! When I do my own shots, I'll have to test this idea again.

Eric, working that Nikon...

on the GM8 mount, doing widefield imaging

Chris, getting those great Mars shots

Me 'n Chris pose in front of Orion