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Thread: Focusing on planets

  1. #1
    KathyNS's Avatar
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    Default Focusing on planets



    How do you guys focus your cameras for planetary imaging? I've tried just eyeballing it on the computer screen as I adjust the focus, but between focus that is inherently soft due to the magnification and often dodgy seeing conditions, the "pretty close to as good as it's going to get" band is quite wide.

    Obviously a Bahtinov mask won't work. Would a Hartman mask work? Do any of you use one?

    I was trying out my new-to-me C-11 last night. You'd think that, with bigger aperture and much better seeing last night, that I would have been able to pull off a better image than I did with the C-8. The result was disappointing. Maybe there's something wrong with the optics of the scope, but it appears to be in excellent condition. I did a star test and the collimation seems to be pretty close to dead on. So I'm assuming the problem is user error.

    jupiter_s3_737fr-p1.jpg
    C-11, no barlow (EFL=2800mm), good seeing. 730 frames.

    20140109-Jupiter.jpg
    C-8, 2x barlow (EFL=4000mm), horrible seeing. 1000 frames.

    Processing was similar for both images: stacked in AutoStakkert and processed in PixInsight.
    Last edited by KathyNS; 03-01-2014 at 02:20 PM.

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    Default Re: Focusing on planets

    Hey Keith, they are good pictures. The focusing is about eyeballing it anyhow. What kind of camera do you use?
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    Default Re: Focusing on planets

    There is some weirdness with the focus on the C11 image, but not sure if it is something from processing or original exposure. It seems the perimeter is focused in one area (bottom) whereas the remainder looks out of focus. What do you think?

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    Default Re: Focusing on planets

    Keith - with Jupiter, wind up the gain and focus on a moon
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    Default Re: Focusing on planets

    Hi Keith, wouldn't focussing on one of Jupiters moons using a Bahtinov work? Then you can swing back to Jupiter?
    I've got a manual tracking mount and I've been imaging using my DSLR so I've just focussed on one of the moons (hard to track manually whilst also focussing!!), focussed using my cameras Liveview 10x zoom, then once I'm happy I let Jupiter drift into frame and start imaging. If I had a Bahtinov I'd be using that for sure as it would make life a lot easier.

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    Default Re: Focusing on planets

    It is really about eyeballing it. It can drive you crazy at first and if seeing is bad it's even harder. After some trial and error you start to get a feel for what correct focus should look like on the screen. By trial and error I mean lots of failed data that you don't discover until trying to process it. Weird science.
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    Default Re: Focusing on planets

    A motorised focuser (especially one that can be USB controlled from the planetary imaging laptop) is a real boon...
    Jupiters moons (once you can see them) behave like large stars - you get the "donut" in/out of focus effect easily
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    Default Re: Focusing on planets

    Thanks. I don't know if I have a gain control for that camera. I'll look for one.

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    Default Re: Focusing on planets

    You can always slew to a Bright Star, and perform your Baht Mask Focus there. Then Lock-down the Focuser and return to Jupiter.

    Planetary and Astronomical Distances are near enough Infinity to pass for same Focal Distance...

    Either Castor or Pollux is primed for this task, since Jupiter is situated squarely in Gemini...
    (These stars will get you high-quality well-defined Baht Diffraction Spikes, as they are several Mag brighter than any of the Jovian Moons.)
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