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Planetary Imaging Article Sky and Telescope Jan 2023

Astrophotography Planet Outreach
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#1 Bob Campbell

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 10:51 AM

Hi All

 

I was browsing through the latest issue of S&T, and came across the article by Tom Dobbins "What Makes a Good Planetary Telescope" The technical discussion on history, telescopes, and cameras was quite good (IMO, no flames), and hit on all the classic considerations and some of the nuances.

 

What struck me was the poor quality of the images that were being passed off as 'amazing' and 'excellent' to illustrate the state of the art of  planetary imaging. Even examples from Damian Peach were not close to his best work, and I would guess seeing this he would be  more than a little disappointed in S&T.

 

Many of the images posted here in the various threads far exceed what was posted here on CN.

 

Which got me to thinking. We really have a cutting edge phenomenon here on CN, and as far as I can see lead the charge in generating world-class planetary images.

 

Would it be appropriate for a group of our best imagers here to contact S&T, and float the idea of an article? It would document the process and mutual support of the CN community, and most importantly the truly excellent results the members get with very modest setups. Might even be good advertisement for Astronomics.

 

I would claim that even in the small bore challenges, the images posted on CN approaches (and sometimes exceeds) some of the images printed in that article.

 

It could give the average reader of S&T hope that you don't need a C14 to create some pretty amazing planetary images.

 

What do people here think of such an idea?

 

Bob

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#2 RedLionNJ

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 10:57 AM

I haven't seen the print edition of Jan 2023 yet, but perhaps some of the perception of 'poor' is due to the generally terrible print reproduction quality?  I know myself (and others) have been quite disappointed in the printed appearance of planetary images (primary Mars, Jupiter & Saturn) which looked pretty darned good online. S&T's printer used to use really nice quality paper and inks for the magazine. That's been revamped several times over the years and seems to degrade with every new iteration.

 

Now I'm eagerly awaiting my copy to see just how "bad" it looks! 

 

Thanks for the heads-up, Bob.


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#3 Bob Campbell

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 10:59 AM

I haven't seen the print edition of Jan 2023 yet, but perhaps some of the perception of 'poor' is due to the generally terrible print reproduction quality?  I know myself (and others) have been quite disappointed in the printed appearance of planetary images (primary Mars, Jupiter & Saturn) which looked pretty darned good online. S&T's printer used to use really nice quality paper and inks for the magazine. That's been revamped several times over the years and seems to degrade with every new iteration.

 

Now I'm eagerly awaiting my copy to see just how "bad" it looks! 

 

Thanks for the heads-up, Bob.

Good point. Hubble image comparison looks kind of lame as well. I still think an article describing what we have here might be interesting to readers.

 

Bob



#4 Mitchell Duke

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 11:02 AM

In my opinion it would not be worth while. Now everything is based on what sells or popularity. Alot of the images I see on other social media, APOD, etc., are art not actual images. Its very sad that this hobby is going in this direction.
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#5 Bob Campbell

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 11:14 AM

In my opinion it would not be worth while. Now everything is based on what sells or popularity. Alot of the images I see on other social media, APOD, etc., are art not actual images. Its very sad that this hobby is going in this direction.

Have you seen the astro-images posted on twitter (humor me)?

 

Some of the posters have very impressive setups by any measure.

 

Bob



#6 dcaponeii

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 11:17 AM

This is what happens when STEM gets hijacked and ends up as STEAM. 

It's the SECOND WORST thing that happened to science and math education.  The first thing was adding the "T" so schools can get away with playing with toys instead of actually teaching math and science.


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#7 RedLionNJ

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 11:27 AM

Ok, I bundled-up and walked down to my mailbox (I live in the woods and have a very long driveway) - nobody had checked the mail since before Thanksgiving, so it may well have been sitting there since Friday.

 

My (personal) critiques of the images used in the article:

 

Damian's Jupiter is from a few years ago and definitely appears 'soft'. But I think he has always denoised more than most.

The HST Jupiter next to it is not of an image scale to really show what the HST can do - the resolution is scaled down to match Damian's. It's also got that "PR gaudy appearance"

 

Not going to comment much on Copernicus, but it also looks 'soft' (and we don't really cover lunar here)

 

Sean's collage on the lower right on page 59 is obviously (given Jupiter's appearance) from quite a few years ago - maybe 2012 or 2013 - but the muted colors are fairly representative of the way Jupiter looked back then. Mars could be bigger, sure, but Mercury is not unimpressive.

 

Bird's Mars on the following page has suffered greatly from the printing reproduction process, but even as it appears on page 60, I'd say it's better than 99% of the Mars images we see here.

 

Jeff's (JMP) Jupiter on page 77 in the Gallery also appears to have taken a few hits in the printing process (but I'll let Jeff be the primary arbiter of that).

 

A little surprised not to see anything from Chris in the article - the normal "over-processing" he does would probably have been tamed-down nicely by the printing process.

 

Just my 2c worth.  But yes, other than Anthony's Mars, these are not "showcase images" in the article.  Agreed.


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#8 Bob Campbell

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 11:29 AM

In my opinion it would not be worth while. Now everything is based on what sells or popularity. Alot of the images I see on other social media, APOD, etc., are art not actual images. Its very sad that this hobby is going in this direction.

Don't you think it might be worth a try to try to buck the trend? At the very least, its a human interest story about how imagers from around the globe share results and techniques to advace everyone's capabilities.

 

OTOH, a grassroots effort like ours (and CN forums in general) could obliviate the need for a publication like S&T (which I find in general quite boring, as is Astronomy magazine)

 

Bob


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#9 JMP

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 12:06 PM

I'm disappointed by how my Jupiter picture on page 77 of Sky and Telescope (Jan '23) looks. However, as per the discussion on blind deconvolution, the way we perceive images comes into play. When I look at images on-screen, I make an effort to avoid clipping the right side of the histogram. I went back and looked at some of Damian's recent images. Clipped histogram!

 

So an image printed in a magazine needs to be calibrated differently. I see now why images by Peach and Go look a bit over-processed. They need that over processing to stand up to printing in ink on paper. Here is a somewhat re-calibrated version of my Jupiter picture. This was my first appearance in a magazine.

 

Jeff

 

Jupiter_09-23-2022_B.jpg


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#10 Bob Campbell

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 12:22 PM

I'm disappointed by how my Jupiter picture on page 77 of Sky and Telescope (Jan '23) looks. However, as per the discussion on blind deconvolution, the way we perceive images comes into play. When I look at images on-screen, I make an effort to avoid clipping the right side of the histogram. I went back and looked at some of Damian's recent images. Clipped histogram!

 

So an image printed in a magazine needs to be calibrated differently. I see now why images by Peach and Go look a bit over-processed. They need that over processing to stand up to printing in ink on paper. Here is a somewhat re-calibrated version of my Jupiter picture. This was my first appearance in a magazine.

 

Jeff

 

attachicon.gifJupiter_09-23-2022_B.jpg

First, congrats on being chosen for an image spot! As RedLionNJ points out, the printing process can really do some damage in fine details,

 

Glad you posted the real deal here. Gorgeous!

 

Bob



#11 JMP

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 12:40 PM

I was talking with Jerry Oltion who writes the "Astronomer's Workbench" column. He tells me that S&T has a declining number of readers and that magazines in general are in decline. It takes four months between the time an item hits the news and the time the magazine reaches your mail box. I'm 72 so I'm OK with that. Young folks not so much I'm guessing. When I look at the faces at my astronomy club, a lot of the folks are as old as I am. A lot of us got interested in the stars and planets back during the "space age".

 

I wrote to Ed Ting to say I missed the written version of his reviews. His reply was "Ha! You and I are the only ones who like to read any more!"

 

I do think Sky and Telescope is trying to appeal to a general audience who aren't going to invest the time and effort that you and I on this forum spend taking pictures. I tried writing a general interest article for "Cloudynights" about how to use a planetary camera. They didn't even bother to send me a rejection notice.

 

So it goes.

 

Jeff


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#12 bunyon

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 12:40 PM

Sean Walker is a frequent contributor here. I’m not sure we’re going to tell S&T anything they don’t know. I’ve not seen any published renditions of digital planets that match the same image online.
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#13 Mitchell Duke

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 01:02 PM

Have you seen the astro-images posted on twitter (humor me)?

That is what I was refering to, however some are good.
Some of the posters have very impressive setups by any measure.

Bob



#14 smiller

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 03:40 PM

How does the electronic version of S&T look?

 

I worked my career in R&D developing high-quality digital printers, some tuned for high end photographic work and commercial publishing, and I’ll tell you that the standard 30 years ago was “National Geographic cover“ and there was a debate if computers would ever be able to display an image of this quality.  Many people felt, no way, not ever!

 

Fast forward 30 years and electronic display technology (I.e. what you’re reading this on right now) have advanced significantly and now they have much greater contrast, resolution, and gamut than typical printing systems, even higher end commercial ones.  With quantum dots, and OLED,  and HDR rendering (and put it in your favorite next generation display technology here), that gap is just going to widen further.

 

I recently printed a photo book of my Astro photos, from a high-quality outfit, for my mom who doesn’t use any electronic display devices, and I worked very hard to balance the pictures to get the maximum quality out of the product which involved three iterations along with special instructions for the outfit not to use their own image enhancement algorithms so that I can get consistent results driven by my understanding of their ability to print.  I used their high end heavy satin photo stock.    I was pleased with the results but they are not even close to what the images look like displayed on a high-quality electronic display.

 

I’m saddened by the difficulties the print industry is having, computers and the internet have been devastating to all forms of print causing defunding of a classic pillar of our society.  Perhaps they messed up here, but if struggling with declining sales and losing the technology race with computer displays is what’s behind this, I wouldn’t be too hard on them.  From someone who spent his career trying to advance the technology of print as quickly as we could, I feel their pain.


Edited by smiller, 27 November 2022 - 05:15 PM.

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#15 JMP

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Posted 27 November 2022 - 05:14 PM

I agree. I thought the on line version looked better. In my case I wish I had calibrated my picture more along the lines of what the printer needed.


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#16 roelb

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Posted 28 November 2022 - 07:12 PM

The electronic version looks a lot better on my laptop screen.

But I think that the aim of an article is not to only displaying nice looking images but the content itself.


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#17 Bob Campbell

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Posted 28 November 2022 - 07:27 PM

How does the electronic version of S&T look?

 

I worked my career in R&D developing high-quality digital printers, some tuned for high end photographic work and commercial publishing, and I’ll tell you that the standard 30 years ago was “National Geographic cover“ and there was a debate if computers would ever be able to display an image of this quality.  Many people felt, no way, not ever!

 

Fast forward 30 years and electronic display technology (I.e. what you’re reading this on right now) have advanced significantly and now they have much greater contrast, resolution, and gamut than typical printing systems, even higher end commercial ones.  With quantum dots, and OLED,  and HDR rendering (and put it in your favorite next generation display technology here), that gap is just going to widen further.

 

I recently printed a photo book of my Astro photos, from a high-quality outfit, for my mom who doesn’t use any electronic display devices, and I worked very hard to balance the pictures to get the maximum quality out of the product which involved three iterations along with special instructions for the outfit not to use their own image enhancement algorithms so that I can get consistent results driven by my understanding of their ability to print.  I used their high end heavy satin photo stock.    I was pleased with the results but they are not even close to what the images look like displayed on a high-quality electronic display.

 

I’m saddened by the difficulties the print industry is having, computers and the internet have been devastating to all forms of print causing defunding of a classic pillar of our society.  Perhaps they messed up here, but if struggling with declining sales and losing the technology race with computer displays is what’s behind this, I wouldn’t be too hard on them.  From someone who spent his career trying to advance the technology of print as quickly as we could, I feel their pain.

great insights. Thanks for educating us.

 

Bob


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