Saturn, Jupiter and Mars

I was pretty tired going into the late afternoon, and almost didn’t set up. I am glad that I did, because I have some bugaboos to work out before Mars reaches opposition in two weeks.

Setting up consisted of adding the planetary imaging setup, and running cables for the autoguiding. I did not check polar alignment, but FC autoguiding kept up with the drift without issue.

My smoothness was way down, maybe for two reasons. First, the cold changes everything. It is not as easy to move around the scope when I am all bundled up, so it feels kinda clumsy. The other thing is that in order to get FC autoguiding to work, I had to give up my nice tidy cable bundles and revert back to cable manglement. I need to wait until the 15’ USB 3 cable gets here before working on bundles. And actually, the cold was another influence on the cables. Instead of relaxing and laying flat, they want to remain coiled up and catch on everything, including my shoes. In spite of all of this, I managed through everything ok in the end.

The temperature was around 40 degrees and dropping when I went out the first time at 1800. I was bundled up well, so not much of a problem there. The RH was expected to remain below 70%, so no dew was expected all night. The air was still, but seeing on the display looked average or a little worse. Astrospheric was showing below average until midnight, and then the forecast improves to above average.

I did 1 RGB run of 60s on Saturn. Gain was 400, shutter was 15 ms, and I selected a 576 x 400 ROI. That gave me a 75% histogram and about 63 fps. Total capture was about 3700 frames per filter.

After coming back inside to warm up and have dinner, I was back outside at 1930. By then the temp was in the upper 30s, otherwise conditions were the same.

The GRS was not visible on Jupiter. I think that Io was transiting, but I could not make it out on the display. We are far enough beyond opposition that its shadow would trail way behind. I did 2 RGB runs of 45s on Jupiter. Gain was 400, shutter was 3.5ms, and I selected a 824 x 708 ROI. That gave me an 80% histogram and about 96 fps. Total capture was about 4100 frames per filter in each run.

Mars was in the trees so I went back inside to warm up, wait for it to clear the trees, and perhaps find better seeing.  

I bundled up and went back outside to image Mars at 0020. The temperature was 34 degrees, RH was 47%, and the air was completely still. The seeing looked great on the display, and interesting features that I do not know the names of were visible. I shot a 90s IR run, and then one RGB run at 90s. Gain was 400, shutter was 1ms, and I selected a 360 x 302 ROI. That gave me about a 70% histogram and 590fps. Total frames for each filter was 53,000.

Over all it was an enjoyable session. I especially look forward to processing the Mars data. The cold was a bit of a factor for me. When finish the transition to remote access to the scope-side laptop, I will need to be outside to acquire the target and get autoguiding going. After that I can go inside to complete the exposure and run setup.

Mars - 2022-11-22 05:44 UTC

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