Jupiter 20151226 from 11:02 UT to 12:03 UT

Jupiter 20151226 from 11:02 UT to 12:03 UT

Went outside this am around 05:30 to -6C air and clear skies and full moon setting.
Not bad… first time in a while.
Seeing was good, transparency was average and later on went down to poor. Wind was neglible.

Had realigned the scope the night before as a couple of weeks back had told it to park and it parked all right.. right into the wall.
I had added a 30′ dew shield and when a scope goes from park to target, it went up first and achieved altitude before azimuth.
When you tell it to park, it does the same… trying to achieve park altitude while moving towards park azimuth… ie it went down into the wall before it cleared it.
arrg. Totally messed up pointing and parking!
So, realign the scope the night before and it was kinda fixed.

Yet one more thing to remember in an enclosed space.
So.. turned on the scope this morning to a corrupted handbox display with no response. The only way to fix this is to kill the power. It knows you killed power before formally parking it, so when it next turned on OK, it wanted to do a 10 minutes long alignment process, which works maybe 30% of the time.
I gambled, said no, and commanded Jupiter Ho!
It was not too bad.. within 30 minutes of pointing. Told it to Sync on Jupiter and went about the day.

I was working without the barlow from the last experiments with the dslr adapter and grabbed some imaging runs of Jupiter, Mars and Venus. On telling it to go to Mars, it was less than 30 minutes out. When telling it to go to Venus it was 20-30 DEGREES out. weird that.
Maybe there was a little cord tangle going on. Always have to worry about that.

Put the x2 celestron barlow back in and went back to Jupiter. Trained it again and started a bunch of runs of 60 seconds. As it turns out, the Great Red Spot was just leaving and Io and its shadow were just coming in.

Called it a day after 07:00 as it was getting pretty light outside and the clouds and haze were increasing as well.

Processing. 56GB of files
I ran all of the .avis through a preprocess step this time using Castrator, a util that crops a video while at the same time centering the object in the middle. That took about 3 hours for the 32 videos..
Had to throw two of them out as tracking was not great this morning and it required a lot of manual adjustment every 60 second run. Too bad I had to run inside for more coffee… those runs had Jupiter leave the field of view and were ruined.
Offhand this is such a useful step (cropping differing runs with different pixel sizes into the same while centering as well), that it will become a regular part of the routine.

Next came batch processing in autostakkert, another first time. That worked out well.. maybe 2 hours to create 30 .tif images using the best 25% of the frames, in general about 500 out of 2100 give or take.
Batch processing let me set it up and go out for a walk and a bit… maybe 2 hours later it was done.

One of the last steps was to bring each .tif image into registax, one by one, and apply the wavelet settings, and save out as a .png image file. That was a lot of repetition and boredom.. maybe 20 minutes. Can’t see how to automate that one yet.

The last step was to put the final 30 .png files together and convert them into a 256 colour animated .gif file.
This topped out at 1MB.. a little large (see at top of post)

Some Firsts:
* used castrator to better preprocess the .avi files
* used autostakkert in batch mode to stack
* have an animated image of over 60 minutes!
* no dew on primary.. .the dew shield had frost on the lower inside but it worked! as did the heater on the secondary.
* taking the hand controller inside after observing. keep it nice and toasty warm.
* will also investigate the whole NASA Juno mission project, where they want imagery from us recreational types.

Also did Mars (horrible),



Venus (also horrible) and could not quite get Saturn, which had cleared my local horizon at 06:35 but went directly behind the biggest tree in the neighbourhood.


Be ready on Tuesday for Mercury’s greatest elongation (20 deg) in the evening sky at mag -0.6