Saturday 1 December 2012

Webcam telescope image of Jupiter & Moons

It is winter again, and the upside to it getting dark before 5pm is many more chances for astronomy. This week I had my SkyWatcher telescope out again, and captured a few images of Jupiter and its moons using the XBox Live Vision webcam.
Wednesday 28 November 2012, Jupiter and four moons.
640 × 480 pixel uncropped image from Xbox 360 webcam,
No filters, prime focus, SkyWatcher SK1309EQ2 telescope.
Single snapshot using wxAstroCapture under Linux.
That image is a full size unedited and unprocessed snapshot extracted using VLC from the AVI movie I recorded using wxAstroCapture running on my old Linux Laptop, captured at 640 × 480 pixels doing about 5 fps. The camera can be run at a higher resolution too.

The physical camera setup is as described before, an XBox 360 webcam with a telescope nose adaptor added and the red glass IR filter removed (correction - this camera still had the original red glass IR filter).

Using the aperture mask (the round cover for the telescope opening with an opening about 5cm) as a quick way to cut down the light (aka stopping down, simpler than messing with the image capture size) I was able to get some shots where Jupiter's stripes were visible too - at the expense of losing the faint moons. Without post-processing to stack the images though, they are not very impressive. I tried Keith's Image Stacker for Mac OS X, but sadly it didn't understand the AVI files from wxAstroCapture.

A few days later I had another clear night and experimented with capturing at the native resolution of 1280 × 960 pixels, and decided rather than saving as AVI files I'd try the folder of FITS format images. I've not found a tool look at those yet, let alone stack them for image processing. Sigh.

Pretty poor compared to some of the images posted on this thread or this thread - but there are some useful tips there like don't use auto-exposure, and turn down the gain.

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