Mars Opposition 2003


The following images represent my first approaches to planetary webcam imaging. Unfortunately my learning curve in webcam imaging had a quite steep slope ahead during the mars opposition 2003 so that the following images don't represent the best results possible with the equipment used and the atmospheric conditions. I did not use optimal webcam settings (brightness, gamma, saturation) for imaging mars at all so I'm looking forward to the mars opposition 2005 which will feature a somewhat greater distance from earth to mars than 2003 but much more usable altitudes of mars in europe :)


Mars - 2003.10.05 - IR Passfilter Test

Mars 2003.09.03

Mars 2003.08.27

Mars 2003.08.26

Mars 21.08.2003 - UT 00:18

Something went terribly wrong. Conditions have been fairly good, seeing allowed up to 500x visually. Some systematic focussing error ruined all AVIs. The result is resized to 40% - no more information in the source files...

Seeing was quite bad when I started and improved little towards 4:00. Transparency was low, high altitude cloud bands varied mars magnitude a lot. 305 frames of 1400 stacked, only coarse structures are visible, at least the image shows a glimpse of Olympus Mons ( or what I whish to be OM ).

Firstlight of my Vixen VMC200L.
After doing some startests (seeing way to bad and scope not cooled down enough to judge but very promising) I decided to image - guess what - mars. Seeing was horrible at 02:30 local time, transparency low and the full moon very bright but seeing improved slightly towards 04:00 - very common to the current summer heat wave. Seeing (still only about 3/10) allowed at least some usable AVIs. Not many details in the processed image but ok for the red bouncing and wobbling ball.

My best mars so far. I experimented with several shutter speed, brighness and saturation settings and received the best results at 1/25s with a little brighter and more saturated setting than I used in the past.
The image is a stack of about 1000 raw frames which differ very little in quality.

Mars 01.08.2003

Mars 29.07.2003

After setting up my equipment, taking two first test AVIs, letting my scope cool down and beeing happy that my recently modified controller tracks the mount very well, I've been able to take just one real AVI of mars. Just as I wanted to play with brightness settings my RA-motor went nuts, tracked totally unsteady and way too slow. Grrr, thanks a lot...

The result shows an odd overprocessed feature at the top-right rim (south-west area od mars). No idea if this is an overprocessed surface feature or caused somehow my equipment.

P.S.: Guess what, my mount tracks accurate again back in the house...

Mars 19.07.2003 (2)

Another image from this session. The two versions of processing show a more natural softer look and a harder version showing more details besides the processing artefacts.

Mars 19.07.2003

My second attempt to image mars. My new TeleVue 3x barlow performed so much better than the old teleconverter. Here are 4 different versions of processing:

  1. First draft after capturing just to sleep well ;)
  2. 900 frames stacked, a bit overprocessed for my taste
  3. 900 frames stacked, more "natural" processing
  4. Just 140 frames stacked, most natrual details for my taste

All images feature wavelet processing in Registax with linear layers, initial 1 with 1 step giving great control. Differential atmospheric refraction corrected by upshift about 1 pixel in the blue channel to align color channels.

Compared to my first Mars I found a correct setting for the white balance not oversaturating the red channel and giving details in all color channels.

I reprocessed the below image. More experience with Registax 2.0 helps :)

Mars 15.07.2003 - my first planetary image ever

Object: Mars, alt 25°05'
Location: 51:53:13n 08:45:23e, Paderborn/Germany
Time/Date: 15.07.2003, 04:39am
Conditions: seeing 5/10, transparency 8/10
Scope: 4"/f10 MTO-11CA russian maksutov on Vixen New Polaris
Filter: Baader IR/UV cut
FL-extension: Alfo 2x teleconverter M42
Camera: Philips ToUcam 740 pro
Capure software: Philips VRecord
Capture settings: I420 codec, 640x480pixels, 5frames/sec, 1/100s shutter speed, gain 1/10, brightness 2/3, gamma turned down, saturation 2/3
Processing: Registax: alignment, stacking, wavelet processing with linear layers
Postprocessing: cropping in Photoshop, slight color desaturation