August 17th, 2022, 12:11 a.m. local time

Years of trying to perfect my rudimentary planetary imaging techniques may have finally culminated in a night where all of my image sets were, in my view, excellent.

Usually when I photograph Jupiter, Saturn, or Mars, in batches of three to four sets of ~25 second videos, one or two of the sets will be noticeably out of focus.  It's just the way it is, trying to pinpoint the focus on such small targets hundreds of millions of miles away.

But in the early morning of August 17th, post-processing revealed that all of my re-focus attempts produced really good outcomes.  It may only be of significance to me, as I can now say I had a "perfect" astrophotography session at least once.

This may also be a good time to re-mention that none of my astrophotography equipment is ideal.  I do not have an equatorial auto-guided mount for my telescopes, required to track targets aligned to the rotation of the Earth (necessary for real deep sky photography, which I generally avoid).  I have to manually nudge either my 254mm Dobsonian or 127mm Mak-Cass.  When I line up the camera correctly, I can keep a planet in the field of view for 20 to 30 seconds.

And my camera is only a basic Canon Rebel DSLR.  It definitely does not have an image sensor optimized for telescopic views.

My one piece of "premium" equipment is my x5 TeleVue Barlow, a necessity in my opinion to magnify the planets enough to get any sort of workable video results.

Saturn turned out so well this time, I even indulged in a "Drizzle" i.e. magnification of the source image from the stacked videos.  This is my Saturn above enlarged slightly.

Saturn "Drizzle" at 1.5 magnification from original.

Saturn just past opposition, which I missed due to the overcast skies.  But I plan to turn my attention more squarely at Jupiter now, as it approaches opposition in September.

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
  • Relevant camera settings:
  • ISO 800
  • Exposure: 30
  • HD video at 60fps
  • Created from four videos of about 25s each, best 60% of frames (via Autostakkert)
  • Software for post-processing:
  • PIPP
  • Autostakkert
  • Registax 6
  • PaintShop Pro for minor touch-ups