I_Heart_Astronomy t1_jdav8b4 wrote

All the friends, family, and coworkers who know I'm into astronomy always say "are you looking forward to X?" when they hear something in the news, and I always say that there's a 95% chance it will be cloudy, so not really.

You know comet NEOWISE? Never had a single clear, moonless night when it was around. Not a single one. Most significant comet since Hale-Bopp and not a single clear night to see it at its peak. I got to see C/2022 E3 (ZTF) (the most recent notable comet) but it was nowhere near the brightness level that NEOWISE or Hale-Bopp reached. It was only just barely naked-eye. Because it was mediocre, it was clear. Had it been spectacular, it would have been cloudy.

I have been into amateur astronomy since I was a kid, and have NEVER witnessed a meteor shower at its peak time because of either the moon or clouds. That's 25 years of religiously observing the night sky and not ONCE have I had skies that were clear and moonless during the peak of a meteor shower.

So I just go out and observe when the conditions are good and I don't pay much attention to astronomical events.


I_Heart_Astronomy t1_jait71i wrote

They also reflect light from Earth and natural sky glow from the atmosphere, back down. This is why LEO satellites are still readily visible through telescopes or long exposure imaging despite being in the Earth's shadow.

This sub crawls with people who literally have never looked through a telescope in their life saying "ThEy ArE iNvIsIbLe BeCaUsE sHaDoW!". It's simply not true. They are most definitely visible. Not necessarily always naked-eye visible, but they don't have to be for swarms of them to be contributing to light pollution levels.


I_Heart_Astronomy t1_jaispfy wrote

> People here

People here are paid by Elon Musk to astroturf and simp for the commercialization of space.

Billionaires get to exploit a natural resource, and it's spun as if it's some great humanitarian effort for the third world.

I promise the people here using 3rd world internet access as an excuse to justify this don't give a single shit about 3rd world people or their internet access. They are paid to be here to propagandize the commercialization and exploitation of space for the benefit of billionaires.


I_Heart_Astronomy t1_jaisc5e wrote

It's already affected.

Current satellite levels have raised natural background brightness by 10% in dark areas that are normally free of artificial light pollution:


Just wait until all this over-commercialization of space results in 100x the number of satellites, as well as orbiting billboards.


I_Heart_Astronomy t1_ja8h6vh wrote

The side of Jupiter definitely influences how much detail is visible, but I will say that OP's previous images were WAY over-sharpened. It made the planet's features look more strongly contrasted than they actually are. His third image is processed to look more natural.

This is a pretty close simulation of what Jupiter actually looks like through the eyepiece of a modest sized telescope: https://i.imgur.com/QZzCNoT.jpeg, contrast is much more subtle, so OP's third image is more closely aligned with what Jupiter is really like.


I_Heart_Astronomy t1_ja86l1d wrote

Not technically, no, it just how it’s referred to when planets are visible in the sky. For the last few years, Jupiter and Saturn have been in the sky together. Even Mars oppositions have been around when both Jupiter and Saturn were around. So because of that, they were all visible around the same time of year, so it’s been referred to as a “planetary season”.

Eventually though, Jupiter and Saturn will be opposite one another for a while and thus there will be at least one major planet visible in the sky all year long, with Mars popping in every couple of years. So there won’t be a “planetary season” per se, just individual planet “seasons” like “Jupiter season” etc.


I_Heart_Astronomy t1_ja7icnn wrote

Not OP, but I image through my dob as well. The key is in the camera. A dedicated planetary camera from ZWO, QHY, or PlayerOne makes all the difference over a DSLR or a cell phone. The downside is that you need a laptop with a solid state drive and at least USB 3.0 to be able to handle the firehose of data coming from the camera.

The way the technique works is the camera records high speed video, uncompressed. Generally you should be able to get ~150-180FPS from such a camera (even higher if your scope can track and you can set a small region of interest around the planet to get your frame rate up). You record for about 120-180 seconds and then process the video in a stabilizing program like PIPP (PIPP works best for stabilizing untracked video). From there you can stack the video in a stacking program like AutoStakkert. AutoStakkert automatically ranks all the frames from sharpest to blurriest, and you can choose which percentage of frames to keep (e.g. the best 25%). The best frames are stacked together to smooth out noise.

Once you have a smooth image, you then need to sharpen it. Astrosurface or Registax are popular programs for sharpening, and give good results. Astrosurface can also do stacking, but I haven't used it enough for stacking to recommend it over AutoStakkert yet.

All of the programs I mentioned are free, but do require Windows. They all have some pretty confusing interfaces and take some getting used to, but once you know how to use them, processing a video into a final image takes about 5-10 minutes or so. Mostly just trying settings to see what works best.

For the camera brands I mentioned, they all basically use the same Sony sensors, but have different capabilities built around them. I use a ZWO ASI224MC. Excellent sensor, just very small. If your scope doesn't track, you don't have a very large field of view to work with, so it can limit capture potential as you're constantly having to re-position the planet on the sensor and you have to let it drift across the sensor.

Image scale is important to consider. The general rule of thumb is to image at a focal ratio that is 5x the pixel size in microns. For the 3.75 micron pixels of the 224MC, optimal focal ratio is F/18.75. If you have an 8" F/6 dob, then you'd want a 3x barlow to bring the focal ratio to F/18. BUT, the catch is that if the focal ratio is too long to manually track the planet, you're going to have a bad time. So I would recommend starting out imaging at the telescope's native focal length even if it's under-sampled (hopefully the camera can reach focus without a barlow!) Practice imaging at the native focal length until you get a feel for it, then add a barlow to increase the image scale. Things become exponentially harder as you go up in focal length, which is why I recommend starting out conservatively.

Just note that we are at the end of planetary season now so results are going to be generally poor. Jupiter is too low in the sky, Saturn is too close to the Sun, and Mars is too far away. The Moon is always a nice target though. You can produce some beautiful mosaics with a planetary camera and untracked dob.


I_Heart_Astronomy t1_j8qr719 wrote

This might sound crazy, but I was just out doing some stargazing with my telescope (~11PM to 1:30AM), and every now and again a warm gust of wind would blow by. Every time it did, I could smell something very odd in it. It was pungent enough that I cut the observing session short and came inside. I don't really know how to describe the smell other than "sweet, but unpleasant".

Apparently vinyl chloride has a mild sweet smell in high concentrations...