Friday, February 3, 2023

Paul Stephen's Journal

Astrophotography and More

My First Mars of the 2022 Season

November 25th, 2022, 11:24 p.m. local time

The 2022 Mars opposition is only a few weeks away, and though I have been watching the planet both night and morning, this was may first take at photographing it in over two years.

The temperature was nearly freezing at 34 degrees Fahrenheit, the cold blunted heavily from the absence of wind.  And with a clear sky, and no Moon, conditions were about as optimal as possible to re-calibrate my planet technique for Mars, if anything as a trial-run before opposition in early December.

As always in these cases of long furloughs from photographing specific targets, my journal notes were extraordinarily useful to plan the night’s session.  In October of 2020, the last opposition, I settled on an ISO of 800 and SL3 exposure of 200.  Based on my experience these past two years refining my Jupiter and Saturn settings, these values felt far too high, as I have learned to work with lower ISOs.  So tonight I started with ISO 200 (same as Jupiter) and my default exposure of 30.

These settings seemed to work, as the accompanying image shows.  I actually went down to ISO 100, but chose 200 for the final image, mostly because of focusing, as I considered this the best of five three-video sets.

Given that temperatures are dropping, I do not know how many more times I will photograph Mars, but I definitely plan at least once more, either at or around the December 8th opposition.

Summary of my equipment, settings, and software used:

  • Telescope: Dobsonian reflector 254mm / 10″ (homemade)
  • Camera: Canon EOS Rebel SL3
  • Barlow: TeleVue Powermate x5 1.25″
  • Filter: Baader Neodymium 1.25″
  • Canon T ring and adapter
  • MacBook Pro connected to SL3 for focusing
  • Relevant camera settings:
  • ISO 200
  • Exposure: 30
  • HD video at 60fps
  • Created from three videos of about 25s each, best 35% of frames (via Autostakkert)
  • Software for post-processing:
  • PIPP
  • Autostakkert
  • Registax 6
  • PaintShop Pro for minor touch-ups

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