Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Stargazing Long-exposure mod for the quickcam

  1. Dec 19, 2004 #1

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    New Saturn from last Friday attached. Only marginally better quality, but it is twice the magnification (Barlow lens). That's about the magnification limit (400x or so) and light gathering limit of my scope with my quickcam. Sky's could be better though (over Xmas, I'll drive up to the Poconos...). The image was dim enough its starting to look grainy. I'm working on a long-exposure mod for the quickcam. You can't see anything at all deep-sky with it at 1/5 second exposures.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 21, 2004 #2

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    So, last night I attempted the mod. All I have to show for it is a burned finger and a stabbed thumb (and a broken camera). I'll try again tonight and if I fail, I guess I'll just get myself a Meade Deep-Sky Imager ($300).
     
  4. Dec 26, 2004 #3
    LoL. Damn. Welll your saturn pics are awesome. How'd the other night go for ya?
     
  5. Dec 29, 2004 #4

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The pic in post 34 remains my best.

    I bought a Deep-Sky Imager. Unfortunately, that means the skies have been pretty bad since except for Christmas day (and even then, the full moon washes it out). Also, again there is a learning curve. The attached mediocre pic of the Orion Nebula is all I have so far....
     
  6. Jan 2, 2005 #5

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I had a prolific night last night. Attached are some highlights. Conditions were actually pretty bad (I could see the cirrus clouds with the naked eye), so I'm extremely happy with how the images came out - very good for how bad the conditions were. Hopefully, I'll get some clear skies and maybe go for a drive away from the city next week. And its probably time to get a website so I can post the full-sized images...

    First and best is the Orion Nebula. Its a composite of about 50 images of varying exposures up to 45 sec. You can just barely see the dark, sweeping cloud on the right-hand third of the screen. Need darker skies!

    Next is Saturn - no detail of the planet, but 4 moons (and a 7th magnitude star). ~40 images of 5-15 sec. You can see how hazy the sky was from how bright it is around Saturn - there should be more moons visible in the pic.

    And, of course, a moon mosaic. Its 6 tiles, about 40 images each.

    In the comet Macholtz thread, I posted a pic of the comet.

    I got a portable power station for Christmas, and I've got an old laptop with broken hinges to use as a dummy terminal. A friend of mine has an apartment on a golf course (how cool is that!) and I can now leave the scope and a laptop out on the course and control it from inside, staying warm.

    I'm having a couple of problems to work out:

    -Tracking could be better with the scope. Or, rather, tracking is good, but it seems like every now and then it makes a small correction in RA, and that means only a third of my 45 second exposures look good. It may depend on how well its aligned, but I'm not sure. But if I could just make it stop doing the corrections, I could probably take 5 minute exposures before there would be noticeable trails.

    -The Meade software isn't great and I'm having trouble figuring out how to get pictures of Saturn to come out. Maybe its a matter of drawing a small target box, but The contrast is too high and the disk is washed out.

    Stiff learning curve with this hobby, but its rewarding...
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Feb 4, 2005 #6

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    A couple of nights ago, I hit Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter is only about 25 degrees up at 1:00am, so its still a little fuzzy, but I got some decent pics nonetheless.

    Attached are 2 pics of each, one with moons, one without. That night the moons of both planets were nice enough to line themselves up close to their planets. The closeups of the planets are at the same scale, about 650x magnification (half of that, digital), which is twice the theoretical maximum for my telescope. The pics with the planets and moons are composites - a series of longer exposure pics to get the moons and a series of shorter ones to get the moons.

    For Saturn, the moons are, from left to right, Titan, Rhea, Dione, and Tethys. Titan is about mag 8, the others about mag 10, so that's pushing the limits of my telescope for a short exposure. If you look close in the closeup, the outer ring is transluscent and you can see the planet through it.

    For Jupiter, the moons are, from left to right, Ganymede, Europa, Io, and Callisto. Obviously, these are much brighter (mag 5-6), so they came out much better. You can just see the great red spot rotating away, left of center. I think the darker spot in the middle of that band is an artifact - I had some major dust problems on something.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Feb 4, 2005 #7

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    4th pic....
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Feb 4, 2005 #8

    Labguy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Is the "rosey-red" color on these from using a filter or from processing??
     
  10. Feb 4, 2005 #9

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Wavelet processing. I may have overdone it a touch( :redface: ), but it does bring out the details.

    edit: looking through my pics for a more natural color one, I found one that actually came out better. The color is the same, but it doesn't have the artifact in the middle. Hmm....gotta redo the composite now.

    Annoying, but it seems that sometimes an hour's worth of stacking and processing doesn't give better results than a quickie auto-stack. Practice makes perfect though.

    I'm having trouble with my scope too - I already mentioned the tracking issues, but another annoyance is the scope just doesn't like it when its cold. Twice now, I've been out in ~15F degree weather and each time the adhesive on the flip-mirror loses its stickinees and it falls off. I have to take apart the scope to put it back on. Gotta glue it this time... Relatively minor bugs, overall, though.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 4, 2005
  11. Feb 5, 2005 #10
    Those are awesome, Russ. Keep 'em coming.

    oh, if you're finding you have to scale the images for uploading to PF, try posting them at www.imageshack.us. It's free and really easy.

    Anyway, my pics never turn out that great probably a combination of the telescope and digicam. Here's a stacked/processed image of saturn, you'll see what I mean: http://img239.exs.cx/img239/8819/sat0en.jpg

    BUT, I think I'm gonna get some instruction on the school's telescopes. Then I'll be able to use their 6" and 12" refractors w/ tracking. :) (The school also has a 1.2m reflector but they only let grad students use that. Go figure... :tongue2:)

    Oh yeah, I think this thread should allow image tags.
     
  12. Feb 24, 2005 #11

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Fantastic images, Russ.
     
  13. Mar 2, 2005 #12
    Russ, what scope do you use?
     
  14. Mar 2, 2005 #13

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Its an ETX-105. The first half of the Saturn pics were taken with a Logitech Quickcam 4000, the rest with the Meade DSI.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Long-exposure mod for the quickcam
  1. How long does it take (Replies: 3)

Loading...