Mars in the morning of September 6th

For the night of September 5th to 6th, predictions were not that good: clouds passing over, some jetstream that started increasing. I had the scope outside and collimated using the tri-Bahtinov on a star of the Pegasus square in the evening, it then cooled all night .

After a few hours of sleep, I woke up to see that Mars was high in the sky looking very bright & pretty next to the Moon. It was just freed up of a cloud band that barely cleared the beautiful duo.

When I started imaging, it was obvious that the seeing was fairly good. The larger albedo structures on the planet were steadily visible on the laptop screen.

The first series prooved to be the best. it was composed of

  • IR 120s @62FPS 7509 frames CM 207°
  • B 120s @22 FPS 2730 frames CM 207.1°
  • G 120s @40 FPS 4831 frames CM 206.6°
  • R 120s @76 FPS 9188 frames CM 206.1°

with a classic C11, a unbranded 2″ barlow, a Starlight XPRESS 1 1/4″ 7-position automated filter wheel with Baader filters, an Esatto 2″ focusser and the ASI290MM

Altitude 45°

These are B/W intermediate files that resulted from this run

Each SER file was captured with Firecapture, then stacked with Autostakkert AS3!, sharpened with Registax wavelets, and stacked to get a color image using Registax again (derotate option checked).

The first 8000 frames converted from SER to AVI by PIPP SER Player

Two other results from UT304 and UT347:

What makes a good planetary picture:

  • good preparation starts months ahead of opposition, you need to get used and optimize your software, optics, imaging train, collimation: everything should be running smooth beforehand. You cannot start doing or learning on that one night near opposition
  • perfect collimation, done near the planet’s position, in my case using a tri-Bahtinov which is very sensitive to collimation
  • perfect cool down, in this case the scope was outside all night, dew heater already switched on
  • no local heating elements like people, chimnees, sun-exposed pavement or walls, in my case only green garden and forest
  • perfect focus, which can be very hard to achieve, in my case I run through focus up and down manually to get a good feeling for the exact sharp position
  • extreme luck with the seeing, it’s that or make sure you image whenever you can so you will not miss those 2 or 3 occasions with good seeing

It’s pretty rare to have such reasonable seeing conditions. I’m not sure what caused it this night, it might have been a short stroke of luck. What were the weather conditions like ?

Data and image: Weerstation Ransberg, Hugo Mathues, www.weerstationransberg.be