A Birthday Saturn Image

Hi all

This image of Saturn was captured on the morning of the 6th January 2009 at about 2am, but it was still my birthday in Universal Time / GMT. The seeing was maybe a little above average but I was really tired, so it didn’t take much to convince myself that the seeing wasn’t good enough and that I should go back to bed.

So I only captured 2 runs, and the image below is from the second run. For all I know the seeing may have improved once I went to bed but I was too tired to care 🙂

You can see in the image below that the rings are starting to open up slightly again, but they will close again over the next few months until they are completely edge on and disappear from view in early September 2009. Unfortunately Saturn will be too close to the Sun to effectively observe from Earth at that time.



Continue reading for more information about the capture and processing of this image.

I had my cooling system running from 12am to 1am which brought the mirror to within 0.5° of ambient temperature. I set the alarm to wake at about 1:15am, and started imaging about 15 minutes later. I used my normal Planetary Imaging Equipment to capture the data, however there seemed to be a thin haze or thin layer of cloud which was dropping transparency.

For that reason I had to capture at 15fps in the red and green channels, and 7.5fps in the blue channel. Even then, the histogram was less than half full. Maybe it’s time to clean my mirror again! I’ll have to check it out.

Each channel was recorded for 2 minutes and the avi’s were pre-processed using VirtualDub and Ninox to extract, rank and sort the bitmaps. Registax 5 beta was used to align and stack the 500 best frames in each channel, before the usual post-processing in Astra Image and Photoshop.

I’m fairly pleased with the image and it’s probably my best for the season so far (the red channel is really nice). I kind of wished I’d stayed up to capture some more but there’s always next time.

Thanks for looking.

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