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Starting out in planetary

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#1 T~Stew

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 07:18 AM

I've noticed Jupiter and Saturn in the morning skies lately!

 

I've always wanted to see the planets but never have through any optics, other than a feeble attempt to get Jupiter last year with 400mm lens +1.4x TC with a canon 60D. I blew up the result 400% and was pleased to have capture it and its 4 Galilean moons, but obviously no detail just a very small glowing orb with 4 dots around it. I got really excited when I learned about trackers and being able to do AP even with modest photography equipment but learned that planets needed way more focal length.

 

I've learned much since then but still very little overall about planetary. I've acquired some slightly better gear and wondering if it is worth getting up early and trying it out? I now have a Canon 500mm and both the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters which I recently found out can be stacked, so total optical f/l of 1400mm. Still on the low end even though this setup seems ridiculously big to me lol.gif . I found out the Canon 60D will do uncompressed video (one of the few that will do this) at 60fps iirc and has 4.29 micron pixels. I also use Siril for processing, maybe a drizzle can be applied to planetary, or is that just for DSO I'm not sure?

 

With all that, is there any chance of getting some detail?

 

Scopes (and a bigger mount) are not much an option right now, none that I have looked at are in stock. I really want the 10" quattro newt (or orions copy) for good all in one scope. Or if just for planetary maybe a 6 or 7" Mak. Maybe some meade's are in stock but I'd rather wait. I could get a Canon EF adapter and planetary cam... I don't want to spend too much right now but could swing the ASI 178mc, that has much smaller pixels and could be useful as a future guidecam for DSO too. Would an ADC help too or is that just wasting money on such an inferior setup? Perhaps I could use it in the future even if not much use now so not a wasted purchase...



#2 Tulloch

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 07:43 AM

Phew!

 

As you have discovered, the Canon DSLR system can be used to produce good quality images of the planets, however you do need a long focal length as they are very small. The best way to use them is to stream the live view screen at 5x zoom directly to a computer through the USB port using a program like BackyardEOS. The technique is described in the website below, I have used this technique in the past with a Canon 700D, 6" SCT and 2x barlow lens and have achieved similar results from the 700D as for a dedicated planetary camera, the ASI224MC.

https://www.astropix...resolution.html

 

Tutorials on imaging and processing the videos from the DSLR can be viewed here, you will learn about AutoStakkert and Registax (amongst other great tips on imaging and processing).

http://planetaryimagingtutorials.com/

 

To start with, you could try tracking the planets with your 500mm lens and both teleconverters, capture the live view stream to a laptop and see what happens. Capture for around 3 minutes for Jupiter (5 min for Saturn), drag the movie into AutoStakkert and stack around 30 - 50% of the frames, sharpen the stacked image(s) in Registax and post the results.

 

Andrew


Edited by Tulloch, 09 May 2021 - 07:44 AM.


#3 nfotis

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 11:41 AM

The easiest way would be to use a Maksutov telescope - these offer a very long focal distance and a comparatively lightweight design.

A Skymax 150 or similar offers 1800mm at f/12, while a Skymax 180 offers 2700mm at f/15 (but it requires a sturdier mount, like a HEQ5 or better). You add a nosepiece and a T- mount adapter for your Canon, and you are good to go. Later, you add a dedicated planetary camera like the ASI462 if you want small sensors.

For a comparison of various lenses, scopes and cameras when targeting planets, check with this page (select Imaging mode):

https://astronomy.to.../field_of_view/


N.F.

#4 T~Stew

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 02:20 PM

The easiest way would be to use a Maksutov telescope - these offer a very long focal distance and a comparatively lightweight design.

A Skymax 150 or similar offers 1800mm at f/12, while a Skymax 180 offers 2700mm at f/15 (but it requires a sturdier mount, like a HEQ5 or better). You add a nosepiece and a T- mount adapter for your Canon, and you are good to go. Later, you add a dedicated planetary camera like the ASI462 if you want small sensors.

For a comparison of various lenses, scopes and cameras when targeting planets, check with this page (select Imaging mode):

https://astronomy.to.../field_of_view/


N.F.

That was a consideration but problem is none have been in stock for months, nor the sturdier mount.

 

 

 

 

Phew!

 

As you have discovered, the Canon DSLR system can be used to produce good quality images of the planets, however you do need a long focal length as they are very small. The best way to use them is to stream the live view screen at 5x zoom directly to a computer through the USB port using a program like BackyardEOS. The technique is described in the website below, I have used this technique in the past with a Canon 700D, 6" SCT and 2x barlow lens and have achieved similar results from the 700D as for a dedicated planetary camera, the ASI224MC.

https://www.astropix...resolution.html

 

Tutorials on imaging and processing the videos from the DSLR can be viewed here, you will learn about AutoStakkert and Registax (amongst other great tips on imaging and processing).

http://planetaryimagingtutorials.com/

 

To start with, you could try tracking the planets with your 500mm lens and both teleconverters, capture the live view stream to a laptop and see what happens. Capture for around 3 minutes for Jupiter (5 min for Saturn), drag the movie into AutoStakkert and stack around 30 - 50% of the frames, sharpen the stacked image(s) in Registax and post the results.

 

Andrew

Thanks Andrew. I don't think I can run BackyardEOS on my computer (Linux). Normally I run the camera from ASIair pro, does it have video capture capability? I'll have to do some checking. I do believe autostakkert will run on Linux but is it any better than Siril which is what I already use? I may just have to give it a try on a clear morning. I fear the planets might be a bit low though.


Edited by T~Stew, 09 May 2021 - 02:21 PM.

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#5 Tulloch

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 04:35 PM

Thanks Andrew. I don't think I can run BackyardEOS on my computer (Linux). Normally I run the camera from ASIair pro, does it have video capture capability? I'll have to do some checking. I do believe autostakkert will run on Linux but is it any better than Siril which is what I already use? I may just have to give it a try on a clear morning. I fear the planets might be a bit low though.

Yes, Backyard EOS will only run on Windows, but there may be some Linux software out there that will capture the LiveView stream. If not, then the next best option would be the "1:1 640x480 Movie Crop Mode" option described in the Astropix website above.

 

Autostakkert is the stacking software for planetary imaging, and given your location the larger planets will not be in a good position for you for a couple more years ...

 

For reference, here's what I was able to achieve using a Canon 700D with a 6" SCT on an alt/az mount, compared to an ASI224MC.

https://www.cloudyni...6-sct-test-two/

 

Andrew


Edited by Tulloch, 09 May 2021 - 04:38 PM.

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#6 T~Stew

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 10:43 AM

Yes, Backyard EOS will only run on Windows, but there may be some Linux software out there that will capture the LiveView stream. If not, then the next best option would be the "1:1 640x480 Movie Crop Mode" option described in the Astropix website above.

 

Autostakkert is the stacking software for planetary imaging, and given your location the larger planets will not be in a good position for you for a couple more years ...

 

For reference, here's what I was able to achieve using a Canon 700D with a 6" SCT on an alt/az mount, compared to an ASI224MC.

https://www.cloudyni...6-sct-test-two/

 

Andrew

Thank you for all this information. I guess I have time to collect the right gear and learn the processing, if it will not be imageable for 2 years. undecided.gif

And here I was getting excited for this week knowing they can be seen prior to dawn. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to see what I can get, good practice I suppose, but I shouldn't expect a great image or to be able to make any useful determinations. On stellarium, during twilight hours, it shows Saturn a bit over 25 degrees and Jupiter a little less. For DSO I always go by 20 degreees minimum but it seems planets need to be much higher in the sky. That is a problem I can not address, at least this year lol.gif


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#7 Tulloch

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 06:28 PM

Thank you for all this information. I guess I have time to collect the right gear and learn the processing, if it will not be imageable for 2 years. undecided.gif

And here I was getting excited for this week knowing they can be seen prior to dawn. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to see what I can get, good practice I suppose, but I shouldn't expect a great image or to be able to make any useful determinations. On stellarium, during twilight hours, it shows Saturn a bit over 25 degrees and Jupiter a little less. For DSO I always go by 20 degreees minimum but it seems planets need to be much higher in the sky. That is a problem I can not address, at least this year lol.gif

The planets will certainly be imagable, however the low altitude at your location will make it more difficult to get high quality results. J&S should peak in around September (and at a better time of the night sleepy.gif ), so it's certainly worth practicing your techniques now in preparation for better conditions. We in Australia are at peak conditions right now, so I'm trying to make the most of it - in 5 years time we will be in a similar position to where you are now ...


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#8 RedLionNJ

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 06:41 PM

Don't let our antipodean friend scare you off, sir.

 

By the middle of August, Jupiter will culminate at around 35 degrees at 1am for you.  For truly hi-res work, that's going to be marginal. For your 60D camera setup, that's going to be quite usable.

 

You can certainly try the 640x480x60fps movie crop mode, with as much magnification as you can glean from your tele extenders.  Do as Andrew suggests and capture for a few minutes to build up a sufficient number of frames to align and stack. At the kind of resolution your lens will get you, you could easily capture for 5 minutes or longer without loss of resolution in your stack. 5 minutes at 60fps will get you 18,000 frames. From that, you should be able to pick, say, the best 6,000 in AutoStakkert and see what magic it can do.

 

Bear in mind the output from the 640x480x60 mode is gong to be a compressed MVI file. You can process this with AutoStakkert if you put a copy of FFMPEG.EXE into the AutoStakkert directory (but we're talking Windows again). I'm sure there must be a Linux-compatible version of FFMPEG to allow you to get the MVI into AVI format. The resulting file may well be huge, but perhaps Siril can still handle it.

 

The downside with MVI format from the 550D/60D is that the data is compressed in a lossy manner. This may not matter so much for some daytime, non-astro applications, but it sure makes a difference in planetary imaging. You're already sacrificing some quality, there.  But as Andrew says, the only way around that with the 60D is to capture the pixel-for-pixel liveview feed. And the only apps I'm aware of which can do that run on Windows.

 

Good luck, sir!


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#9 Tulloch

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 06:56 PM

Don't let our antipodean friend scare you off, sir.

 

---

 

Good luck, sir!

Not scaring - just ... preparing lol.gif .

 

Well worth practicing now so that you are in a good position when they do come around to a better position.


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#10 nfotis

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Posted 13 May 2021 - 06:39 PM

That was a consideration but problem is none have been in stock for months, nor the sturdier mount.

 

Well, I bought a Skymax 180 two weeks ago (it was in stock at a German store), it arrived a week later to Greece (I hope to test it in the weekend).

 

N.F.


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#11 nfotis

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Posted 13 May 2021 - 06:46 PM

Forgot to add that most Canon EOS control programs for astrophotographers when shooting planetary video, they capture the RAW live view video stream from the camera (that's approximately a 5x zoom, compared to capturing a full sensor video).

If I remember correctly, BackyardEOS captures video only in this mode (essentially, the video you would receive in the camera monitor if you zoomed the view), while APT can capture video from the Canon both ways.

 

I suggest that you get a dedicated planetary camera with an IMX462 or IMX464 sensor, though - programs like EKOS/Kstars can control these under Linux, while Canon dSLRs need the Canon libraries under Windows/Mac to work (if I am not mistaken).

 

N.F.


Edited by nfotis, 13 May 2021 - 06:47 PM.

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#12 T~Stew

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Posted 13 May 2021 - 11:21 PM

Well I went out this morning with the maximum amount of focal distance I could throw at Jupiter (1400mm) and the planet definitely had some size on the screen but I underestimated how fast Jupiter moves... thought maybe I could get away without tracking but I release I will need a tracking mount for this, I couldn't keep it on the screen for more than IDK maybe 20 seconds if that. That lens is a bit overweight on my little Skyguider but I'll try it next time I get a chance.



#13 T~Stew

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Posted 24 May 2021 - 11:36 AM

Just a follow up, my first planetary images!

 

I hadn't looked into autostakkert yet nor figured out if I can capture the live view on my ASIair device much like you would normally do on laptop, I just used the older technique with my Canon 60D capturing the 1:1 movie crop mode. I also couldn't remember off hand (and it was already getting daylight so was in hurry) how many minutes was ideal for each planet, thought it was between 3-5 so just split difference and went about 4 minutes for each... I knew it wasn't going to be jaw dropping image anyhow. I used Siril which I was already familiar with for stacking. About 18,000 images each. I stacked best 25% and applied a 2x drizzle. Did an RGB align, and a little bit of wavelet sharpening and slight boost to color saturation. I shot Jupiter first, and by the time the video ended of Saturn the sky was bright enough I couldnt even see it anymore, so maybe another go is in order yet.

 

BlxIszl.jpg

 

DGFt3eI.jpg

 

Nothing great of course, but happy I can tell what they are lol! Way better than my best still shot from last year!

 

This was with my Canon 60D, and 500mm lens plus 2x & 1.4x teleconverter, on a SkyGuider Pro.

 

The lens is incredibly difficult to manually focus, way harder than any of my other super-tele I use for astro (its very coarse). I am pretty sure I was not spot-on in the focus department. I didn't even think about it at the time, but will a bhatinov mask work on the planets? I was much overweight on my mount carrying this heavy lens too. Need a real mount and real telescope for sure. I don't think a camera lens can do such a great job... I searched astrobin for Jupiter and Saturn with "canon" in the telescope filter and got just a few close up shots, only a single person had a decent image using a canon lens but they also had a 5x barlow in addition to extender and a planetary camera (I also checked for Nikon and Sigma just to see, same results). Before I give up on my current gear though, I'd like another shot with better focus, and maybe a little earlier before they were disappearing into the light blue dawn skies, and maybe see if I can figure out Autostakkert.



#14 Tulloch

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Posted 24 May 2021 - 06:32 PM

Nice images, especially with a long lens. Manual focus is going to be extremely difficult, autofocus might be better?

 

Have a try with AutoStakkert, but I suspect that you won't get significantly better results than these. Registax might help remove some of the red/blue banding using its RGB align feature. It's good to see the cloud bands on Jupiter and one of its moons.

 

Good first attempt, looking forward to see more :)


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#15 T~Stew

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Posted 25 May 2021 - 12:11 AM

I should have also mentioned this was impromptu (which is why I hadn't fully prepared myself). I had been shooting nebula and set my alarm to get up soon after dawn and go take down my camera. Well I couldn't sleep and ended up going out a bit early to shut it down during twilight. While I began to pack up I realized I had totally forgot about the planets with all the bad weather we'd been having but there they were bright in the morning sky. I ran back inside to get the teleconverters and my 60D. Had to rebalance, and really struggled even finding them (wasted a lot of time not realizing my focus went off enough that the planets were not visible in viewfinder). When I finally concluded it was focus issue why I could not find them, I focused on distant cloud in the now brightening skies. After that I found Jupiter quickly.

 

Nice images, especially with a long lens. Manual focus is going to be extremely difficult, autofocus might be better?

 

Have a try with AutoStakkert, but I suspect that you won't get significantly better results than these. Registax might help remove some of the red/blue banding using its RGB align feature. It's good to see the cloud bands on Jupiter and one of its moons.

 

Good first attempt, looking forward to see more smile.gif

Thanks! While autofocus has been surprisingly good with a couple of my lenses, it won't work with double stacked teleconverters and the camera doesn't even allow it to be selected. I could try taping the communication pins on the TC so the camera doesn't know its at >f8, but when I have tried that in the past the autofocus was not very accurate (with my 400/5.6L + 1.4x) so I wouldn't expect it to work well.




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