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Monday, May 04, 2009


Another Go at Saturn

I'm not having much luck imaging Saturn. After some weeks waiting, I had a nice calm (apparently), cool night, no cloud, I cooled the scope down a good hour beforehand and Saturn was near the Zenith. STILL the image bounced all over the place. My Moon shots weren't sterling either. At least I'm improving. I'm using a Philips ToUCam at 320x240 (left) and 640x480 (right) mode with Don the 8" reflector. I used a faster shutter speed and lower frame rate, and I think things came out a little better than before. One day I'll get a decent image.

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Hi Ian,

Good shot!

I use the Toucam as well. Try increasing your resolution to 640*480, which will give you a bigger image size. You can do this in the camera settings (I used K3CCDtools (Free) ) I also used the K3CCDTools zoom feature to assist with focus. Zoomed at 200% and then messed with focus, then took it back down to 100% for the shot. Finally, consider removing the IR/UV filter on your Toucam for Saturn. It actually removes a lot of the color.

Anyway, good luck and great blog!

G'Day Phil

Thanks for the comments. I did try increasing the resolution to 640*480, that's the right hand image. I use Vega astrophotography software (again freeware), which has a special high resolution focus mode. But when you can see the turbulence wobbling your image, no amount of focus will work (heck, I could see turbulence affect the Moon, everything else indicated it would be a perfect night (sobs) - but you know that, I've seen your Mars image).

I'll have a look at removing the filter, but I've very leery of poking around the inside of a webcam with my unfine motor skills (took me a year to gain the confidence to crack open my last webcam).

And I love my ToUCam.

Having a look at your Saturn (and other) images taken with an 8" scope and ToUCam, I'm impressed. I aspire to achieve what you have. What frame rate and shutter speed were you using? (and why won't the ToUCam accept numerical settings for brightness)

BTW, I love your Gaussian Blur technique to remove light pollution. Have to try that some time. What do you think of Barlow/ToUcam combinations for anything other than the Moon?
Well, I try for 10-15 frames per second on both the moon and planets. I also used the barlow with my Toucam for Saturn and a few Jupiter shots I tried last year, but only when the seeing was really good. Like you saw, my Mars shot was taken in less than desirable conditions and got a so-so result.

I understand about messing with webcams. With mine, I bought a screw-on filter that went onto my MOGG adapter for my toucam. Someone else told me to try shooting planets without it and when I did, I got better results.

By the way, my dad lives in Melbourne, and I (kinda!) talked him into buying a 10" Dob when I was there three years ago. He loves it (was using binoculars previously). Now when I go back home for visits we spend a lot of time out under dark skies. Seeing Omega Centauri right on top of one's head is amazing, and coming back to Texas is a tad disappointing ;-)

Thanks for the compliments and keep up the effort!

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