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Comets, Jupiter, M13, The Big Dipper, and Astrophotography for Dummies

Rolled out the telescope last night for some comet observing. I found Neat relatively quick with the binoculars but it took me some time to find it with the scope. It was descent but I guess it is fading pretty fast. Looked at Saturn and it is still one of the prime objects in the sky right now. Swung over to Jupiter and was so impressed with the view there that I decided to break out the camera again and make another vain attempt at photographing the sky. Experimented with some zoom and exposure settings and occasionaly battled with the autofocus on the camera but finally acquired some reasonable pictures of the giant planet. Also took some wide field views to get the moons as well.

By then I thought I would kick back and just take in the night sky when I noticed the constellation Hercules approaching the center point of the sky above. Decided to try to make another attempt to photograph M13. Easily found it in the scope, focused and then attached my camera. Set exposure time to 15 seconds(The max on my Canon G3) and fired away. To my suprise the preview actually showed an image. Once again I took several pictures experimenting with various settings on the camera. Most of the time I was able to obtain a preview image. Decided to try something more challenging so I brought up the ring nebula(M57). Nothing noticeable on the preview with any of the various zooms or exposure times. By now it was around 2:30am and I thought I would try for a picture of the Big Dipper. Not much showing on the preview so was not sure what I would get when I downloaded. Really makes you appreciate what Mike has to go through while he is photographing comets that he can't even see.

Chapter 2. Downloaded the images from the memory card and started scanning through. Out of the 40 or 50 pictures I took of Jupiter, 10 were keepers and a couple were Ok for posting here. Everything else was black. I started pulling them up zooming in, hoping to find some remnant of the nights observing session, but nothing. After finding nothing I would delete that picture and move on. After a few of these I thought there has to be something there. It was one the preview. I thought I would experiment with some of the settings on my Photoshop. Tried color and several of the other settings, but all to no avail. Tried the brightness adjustment and obtained minor results. There is hope. Adjusted the contrast and like a ghost transforming into a visual state or someone beaming in on a Star Trek episode, M13 appeared. Adjusting the brightness now also had a significant impact. Went over all the "black" pictures that I had taken and all revealed some of the night sky's treasures. Even M57 came through, although very fuzzy and not much detail on the ring feature. I have included some of the pictures from last night as my diploma for graduating from dummy to what ever the next step is.Politician I guess. If anyone knows how to deal with the contrasting light of Jupiter while still able to include the moons I would appreciate it. As you can see from the attached picture, I did not succed in that area.

So I guess to conclude with my lesson, Don't be too quick to delete those supposedly blank pictures until you have experimented with the contrast and brightness tools on your photo editor.

Hope to see everybody at CAC tonight.

Comets, Jupiter, M13, The Big Dipper, and Astrophotography for Dummies | 4 comments | Create New Account
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Comets, Jupiter, M13, The Big Dipper and Astrophotagraphy for Dummies
Authored by: Anonymous onSunday, May 23 2004 @ 04:58 am EDT

Thanks for the story of your adventure. You have inspired me to try out my camera.

Comets, Jupiter, M13, The Big Dipper and Astrophotagraphy for Dummies
Authored by: bobmoody onTuesday, May 25 2004 @ 12:19 am EDT
I really liked your pics, too, Kenny. At the event at Carol Ann Cross park Friday and Saturday, we all liked what we could see of Jupiter. Saturday was better with fairly frequent moments of clarity which revealed many swirls and eddies within the main belts.

You mentioned that you weren\'t pleased with the \"graininess\" of your Jupiter pics. Dave suggested that whenever we try adjusting images, we should always try \"unsharp masking\". to really bring out all the detail that might be there. You might try this next time you image.

Also, for any and all who visit this site, if you have any suggestions on imaging or image processing, we could really use a story about the tricks-of-the-trade for all of our aspiring astrophotographers.

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