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Visual vs online images

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#1 Nessark

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:15 AM

I see some really nice and detailed Jupiter and Mars images online taken with a 6SE.

My question is, if I buy a 6SE just for visual use, will things look better or worse than the professional images seen online taken with a 6SE?
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#2 qswat72

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:18 AM

Visual will never be able to capture as much as an image can. That doesn’t mean that visual astronomy isn’t impressive (it is really quite beautiful), but you won’t see as much as a professional quality images through the same scope.
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#3 Traveler

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:19 AM

Always worse... because an image is a stack of pictures (stills captured out of a movie) of only the best (short) seeing conditions given the exposue periode of the movie..

.

In fact imo those pictures are alsmost nothing to do with the actual visual impressions made by human eyes...


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#4 Astrojensen

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:21 AM

Images found online are often HEAVILY processed and show MUCH higher contrast, than what is possible visually. Visual planetary observing is very challenging, but because of that, it can also be deeply rewarding, when you finally see the subtle details. 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


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#5 mrlovt

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:25 AM

The size and detail of the images you see will be far better than what you see in the scope, even on the best of nights.  This page tries to show what you can expect to see through the eyepiece, but even the pictures it shows are better than what you'll see.  

 

Here's a helpful FOV calculator tool to see the apparent size of images in the eyepiece.

 

Don't let that stop you from getting the scope, just understand the expectations.  Visual astronomy is all about patience and learning to spot details during moments of good seeing.


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#6 Stellar1

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:27 AM

As mentioned above, your eye can never pick up as much detail as a camera, a camera is capturing hundreds/thousands of frames which software then picks through the best frames and stacks them  for a final image which is again adjusted by the user. This doesn't mean that actually looking at the planet you won't see detail, sure you can see the red spot and, cloud bands on Jupiter, the rinds of Saturn, surface detail on Mars and such. One of the most satisfying things about visual astronomy is actually seeing these things, challenging your eye to pick out more detail, some night are better than others where seeing permits, you sometimes surprise yourself with what you can make out on good nights.

 

If it were really that bad, amateur astronomy would not have existed before the 2000's when cameras started becoming affordable for the average Joe.


Edited by Stellar1, 23 February 2021 - 11:31 AM.

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#7 c2m2t

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:36 AM

Hi Nessark!

Images will always be better for one simple fact. As with film, digital sensors gather/collect data...accumulate signal. Our eyes receive an instantaneous/continuous data stream and as soon as it is received, it is dumped. This primarily, I suspect, is to protect our eyes...like wearing sunglasses when it is sunny. Our eyes do not accumulate data. That is part of the allure of observing. Every night provides different and varying conditions and the challenge is to teach our eyes and brain to see detail. We have been spoiled by Hubble images. The ability for more and more people to enter the astro-photography part of the hobby has maintained the level of interest. The true skills though, are the ones we develop by observing and in spite of the somewhat lack luster views we consume at the eyepiece, every new revelation is significant when one understands how far those photons had to travel to excite the receptors on your eyes. For me, that is the real marvel and an image can't replace that. Observing becomes a contest with oneself...just remember to record what you see. You might be surprised a few years from now as to how far your observing skills have improved. The notes will be the evidence. 

 

Good luck and enjoy!!

 

Cheers, Chris.


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#8 aa6ww

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:40 AM

AP isn't always full of more details or preferred. Take a look at almost any AP photo of the Orion Nebula. Seldom you will the the trapezium in any photos. It is usually washed out with over exposures. When I observe the Orion nebula, I always make a point of isolating the Trapezium and increasing the magnification to see how deep I can see the smaller stars in the Trapezium. Visually, you can see everything from the amazing nebula down to the fine details in the Trapezium.

 

Another example is M13. It's the same situation listed above. The fine details on individual stars deep into the center of the Globular cluster gets lost in the glow of the cluster, as photos try to reveal too much information. Visually, individual stars are easy to see at the core of the Globular Cluster.

 

Referencing my former C14 and current C11 SCT's.

 

So sometimes too much processing is not impressive. Fake colors are even worse, but that's another topic.

 

...Ralph


Edited by aa6ww, 23 February 2021 - 11:42 AM.

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#9 BKBrown

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:46 AM

Hi Nessark,

 

First off, you won't see images taken by professionals using the 6SE (a nice scope). That is the domain of amateurs, and you might want to go to the various "small bore" threads in the Major and Minor Planetary Imaging forum to see more of this kind of work.

 

Visual observing is, as others have said, a very rewarding process. The images will appear much smaller, and you will have to wait for the brief periods of steady seeing to observe your target, but it is very satisfying when you do get glimpses of detail.

 

Planetary imaging is very different because you are using a sensor (typically a CMOS chip these days) to capture your data instead of your eyes. Once the data is collected, the thousands to tens of thousands of frames are "stacked" using special software and the frames are graded for quality with the worst of the images being discarded. I have often thrown away 90% or more of the frames in a run, keeping just a couple of thousand of the best for processing. The edited stack is then post processed where contrast, color, noise, and other factors are adjusted. At the end you have a cool picture.

 

Bottom line: images will invariably show more than the human eye can see, but the data in the images is real and not somehow made up as some folks persist in thinking. Amateur images are routinely used by professional astronomers in their work. But the experience of seeing the actual light from the planet is not there while imaging, though you can watch the planet on your screen as data is collected. Personally, I enjoy both visual observing and imaging.

 

Clear Skies,

Brian snoopy2.gif


Edited by BKBrown, 23 February 2021 - 12:27 PM.

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#10 TOMDEY

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:48 AM

There are situations where visual observation outperforms artificial image capture by a lot.    Tom


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#11 bobzeq25

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:48 AM

I see some really nice and detailed Jupiter and Mars images online taken with a 6SE.

My question is, if I buy a 6SE just for visual use, will things look better or worse than the professional images seen online taken with a 6SE?

Photography and visual are two _completely_ different activities.  Different equipment, different results.  Very importantly, different forums here.  <smile>

 

This forum is strictly for visual.  You should go to the photography forums for information about that.


Edited by bobzeq25, 23 February 2021 - 11:50 AM.

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#12 BKBrown

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:53 AM

Images found online are often HEAVILY processed and show MUCH higher contrast, than what is possible visually. Visual planetary observing is very challenging, but because of that, it can also be deeply rewarding, when you finally see the subtle details. 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark

Hi Thomas! The best images are those requiring the least amount of processing...it's all about the data. Unfortunately, too many folks use a heavy hand in processing. On a different note, I can't think of any kind of observing I enjoy more than actually watching one or more moons transiting Jupiter through binoviewers...what a rush!

 

Clear Skies,

Brian snoopy2.gif


Edited by BKBrown, 23 February 2021 - 12:02 PM.

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#13 rhetfield

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:58 AM

The size and detail of the images you see will be far better than what you see in the scope, even on the best of nights.  This page tries to show what you can expect to see through the eyepiece, but even the pictures it shows are better than what you'll see.  

 

Here's a helpful FOV calculator tool to see the apparent size of images in the eyepiece.

 

Don't let that stop you from getting the scope, just understand the expectations.  Visual astronomy is all about patience and learning to spot details during moments of good seeing.

I would say the pictures shown in the link are very representative of what one can expect in a 6SE.  On good nights, I can get even a bit crisper views with my 5".



#14 Supernova74

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 12:14 PM

There is no comparison to imaging verses visual Astronomy and visual is considered to me at least the raw footage when those photons hit your eye through the eyepiece,both can be very challenging at times visuel still requires in a certain degree a level of skill as the eye has to be well adapted to the darkness,also averted vision is required on certain objects like galaxies and diffuse nebula like the veil in Cygnus obviously sky conditions and transparency play a major role in this and a reasonable aperture scope,thay also require certain types of filters ie UHC,Olll,H-alpha and so on to give you a fighting chance in observing them.however the longer time you spend at the eyepiece the more detail can be apparent.

 

imaging on the other hand is a very different beast altogether and is a trial and error game when you first start out you will triumphant and fail on many occasions,all to find out you made a silly mistake in the processing stage.

however when you do get it right the images are amazing and can even give the professionals a run for there money,thay also require sometimes long exposure times even for hrs on some objects to ease out that gradual detail of the cosmos,set up time is more crucial and you also require Equatorial mounts and guiding to track the earths axis perfectly so you do have to have patience of a saint to be a dedicated imager.


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#15 rowdy388

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 12:15 PM

I jokingly refer to astrophotography (AP) as astro-pornography because the images are altered and enhanced by the equipment. The detail may be real and appealing but

human eyes would never be able to see it, no matter the distance. Building images by stacking filtered layers, keeping the aesthetically pleasing, and discarding the unwanted

certainly can create a pretty picture though. I like to look at both, but as Tom says, sometimes the pure visual representation is superior.


Edited by rowdy388, 23 February 2021 - 12:16 PM.

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#16 Voyageur

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 01:21 PM

Astro imagers spend a lot of time, money, and effort to create detailed, colorful works of art, technology, and imagination. The images certainly show color and detail impossible to discern with the eye, and are enjoyable to see.

 

But I don’t agree that the images are necessarily “better” than actual visual views. If they were, then there would be no interest in visual astronomy, and nobody would be buying visual scopes anymore, since there is a vast online library of pretty photos at the tap of a key that we can look at anytime we want. 
 

I like seeing the gorgeous images of the Orion Nebula, e.g., that people share here, and I admire the skill and dedication needed to create them. But it’s way better to me to see the Orion Nebula itself with my own eyes. Seeing the wisps of nebulosity, discerning the overall shape, trying different eyepieces to pull out details of the Trapezium, even detecting hints of color on exceptional nights. Just being out under the stars.
 

Seeing Saturn and its rings never fails to interest me or to elicit awe and appreciation when people see it through my scope for the first time. People come to our club’s outreach events and stand in long lines to see it. There are excellent images online of Saturn, up close and in incredible detail courtesy of a space telescope. I love them, but not as much as I do the real thing, right in front of my own eyes. Many other people have the same reaction.

 

I showed Saturn to my Mom one time in my scope. Years later, she brought it up, still marveling at looking in my scope and seeing “that little Saturn, just hanging up there in the sky.” I doubt if showing her a computer image would have become a precious memory for both of us.

 

So, lose any expectations of big Hubble-like views, but be prepared for a personal connection with the night sky that far surpasses the experience of pretty pictures. 


Edited by Voyageur, 23 February 2021 - 01:27 PM.

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#17 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 01:56 PM

The size and detail of the images you see will be far better than what you see in the scope, even on the best of nights.  This page tries to show what you can expect to see through the eyepiece, but even the pictures it shows are better than what you'll see.  

 

This statement on the linked page is patently false.
 

M31 is the only spiral galaxy that can be seen through a small telescope and is worth searching out to say “I have seen it”.

 


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#18 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 01:58 PM

I've had some great planetary views over the years through large classical Cassegrains and truss-tube Dobs with premium mirrors but none that matched a well-done amateur image.


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#19 BKBrown

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 03:49 PM

Astro imagers spend a lot of time, money, and effort to create detailed, colorful works of art, technology, and imagination. The images certainly show color and detail impossible to discern with the eye, and are enjoyable to see.

 

But I don’t agree that the images are necessarily “better” than actual visual views. If they were, then there would be no interest in visual astronomy, and nobody would be buying visual scopes anymore, since there is a vast online library of pretty photos at the tap of a key that we can look at anytime we want. 
 

I like seeing the gorgeous images of the Orion Nebula, e.g., that people share here, and I admire the skill and dedication needed to create them. But it’s way better to me to see the Orion Nebula itself with my own eyes. Seeing the wisps of nebulosity, discerning the overall shape, trying different eyepieces to pull out details of the Trapezium, even detecting hints of color on exceptional nights. Just being out under the stars.
 

Seeing Saturn and its rings never fails to interest me or to elicit awe and appreciation when people see it through my scope for the first time. People come to our club’s outreach events and stand in long lines to see it. There are excellent images online of Saturn, up close and in incredible detail courtesy of a space telescope. I love them, but not as much as I do the real thing, right in front of my own eyes. Many other people have the same reaction.

 

I showed Saturn to my Mom one time in my scope. Years later, she brought it up, still marveling at looking in my scope and seeing “that little Saturn, just hanging up there in the sky.” I doubt if showing her a computer image would have become a precious memory for both of us.

 

So, lose any expectations of big Hubble-like views, but be prepared for a personal connection with the night sky that far surpasses the experience of pretty pictures. 

I agree that the view at the eyepiece can be intensely satisfying and an almost spiritual experience, but your characterization of imagers and their work is inaccurate...specifically as it pertains to planetary imaging. While the images can be colorful and as attractive as a work of art, they are not created (implication: being constructed from whole cloth), they are being extracted and processed. They do not spring from the imagination...they spring from the data. If detail is not there, it cannot be created with the available data. There is a broad range of skill represented by folks who post their work on line, some are excellent and others not so much. Final product is directly impacted by the skill and experience of the imager, and the data produced by the most capable practitioners is in demand by the scientific community. Fact: professional astronomers routinely employ amateur planetary imagery data. Why? Because that data accurately reflects the object of study in a way that is not subject to personal bias or shortcomings of memory or interpretation. It is important for our new folks to understand that visual observing and imaging are different, but allied activities, and that they should seek out appropriate venues for discussing them.That is why CN has such a diverse number of interests represented in its forums, and why I believe this thread is valuable for newcomers. There has been a lot of good discussion here, and I hope the OP is getting his question answered smile.png

 

Clear Skies,

Brian snoopy2.gif


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#20 Voyageur

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 05:21 PM

I agree that the view at the eyepiece can be intensely satisfying and an almost spiritual experience, but your characterization of imagers and their work is inaccurate...specifically as it pertains to planetary imaging. While the images can be colorful and as attractive as a work of art, they are not created (implication: being constructed from whole cloth), they are being extracted and processed. They do not spring from the imagination...they spring from the data. If detail is not there, it cannot be created with the available data. There is a broad range of skill represented by folks who post their work on line, some are excellent and others not so much. Final product is directly impacted by the skill and experience of the imager, and the data produced by the most capable practitioners is in demand by the scientific community. Fact: professional astronomers routinely employ amateur planetary imagery data. Why? Because that data accurately reflects the object of study in a way that is not subject to personal bias or shortcomings of memory or interpretation. It is important for our new folks to understand that visual observing and imaging are different, but allied activities, and that they should seek out appropriate venues for discussing them.That is why CN has such a diverse number of interests represented in its forums, and why I believe this thread is valuable for newcomers. There has been a lot of good discussion here, and I hope the OP is getting his question answered smile.png

 

Clear Skies,

Brian snoopy2.gif

Thanks for the clarification and elucidation of the imaging process, Brian.

 

When I used the word "create" I didn't intend to imply that your images are inventions or fantasies of the imagination. As you point out, not everyone has the skill to use collected data to portray an image that is as accurate as possible to what exists in reality, to the extent that it is not only attractive to view but valuable to science. I consider using the data and a well-developed set of skills a work of creativity. Creativity doesn't mean made-up, in other words, at least how I was thinking of it.

 

But I do appreciate the information you provided and hasten to end by saying how much I admire the work you imagers do.


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#21 BKBrown

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 05:35 PM

You are quite welcome Voyageur, and please don't think any feathers were ruffled wink.png We don't discuss imaging per se in this particular forum, but when someone new comes along and wants to understand what can be done with the gear they are interested in, and asks specific questions, I feel we are obligated to put them on the right path.  There are so many different facets to our hobby that it is good to understand what our colleagues are doing, even if we don't indulge. Makes it easier to help others...

 

Clear Skies,

Brian snoopy2.gif


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#22 teashea

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 08:23 PM

The good photographic images you see often use hundred of minutes of exposure and hundred of separate images stacked together.  This results in more than a thousand times more photons that your eye will see.  

 

So many beginners are very disappointed because their expectations are far to high.  What you can see visually is completely different than what a photograph shows.

 

You are so smart to ask this question ---- props to you.



#23 Asbytec

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 07:35 AM

I love the small bore threads. I used them quite frequently to compare my views with their amazing images. There are a lot of similarities, it is the same object we are observing, after all. Much of the detail is visible, maybe not all at once or as well defined. Images are more detailed over all with higher contrast and color saturation (same thing I do with my sketches so the onlooker doesn't have to work as hard as I did).

 

I believe digital images give us an idea of what is there to be seen in a modest aperture if we could press ourselves to the task during better seeing conditions. Though we often come up short, nothing stops me from at least trying to see every detail that can be imaged. Gives us something to shoot for.

 

Below (and my avatar) is about the best I got with a 6" small bore visual rendering of Jove on the zenith in good seeing. Again, embellished contrast and saturation to bring out the detail and soft hues that require some effort to capture visually. Image quality, probably not. Exciting, you bet. 

 

Jupiter 3 Feb 1300UT Small.jpg

 

 


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#24 Hexley

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 07:58 AM

Others covered it well, that being said, the 6SE does beautifully on Jupiter and Saturn. No, it'll never be comparable to the final image of software digesting 6000 separate images and cooking them into one awesome one, but just the sight of Saturn, Jupiter, or heck, the moon floating in your eyepiece is quite awesome.

 

SCTs are awesome planetary scopes, particularly on a 6SE where you have it find Jupiter, it'll keep Jupiter in your view for hours. For DSO, I tend to use my Dob.


Edited by Hexley, 24 February 2021 - 07:59 AM.


#25 Tony Flanders

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 08:45 AM

I had the privilege to sit in on a conversation between Steve O'Meara, one of the world's best visual observers, and Sean Walker, one of the world's best planetary imagers. The consensus is that a skilled observer on a really good night can see at least as much detail as is shown in photos. The difference is the imager can get results far more consistently.

 

Steve had a good description of the experience of visual planetary observing. You sit there for an hour, and suddenly -- bang! -- you get a moment when everything stands out in crisp detail for a second or two. Then you wait another ten minutes, and if you're lucky you will get another few seconds of clarity.




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