Astrophotography of planets, stars, etc.

These astrophotos were taken from my backyard in the city of Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
A Celestron C11 Telescope (11 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain, see images below) was used, on a SkyWatcher HEQ5 equatorial mount.
Camera used was a Philips ToUcam II (colour), a DMK 31AF03 (monochrome), a DBK31AU03.AS (color) or a Minolta 7D DSLR.
Images were registered & stacked with Registax and processed with Paint Shop Pro 8 and some personal tools.



Jupiter on November 18 and 19, 2011.

Jupiter C11 barlow DBK Jupiter C11 barlow DBK


Sunspots during September 2011.

Sunspots 1302 multiple days DSLR astrophotography
(click to enlarge)
Large sunspot 1302 (APOD) during a period of 6 days (September 27 to October 2, 2011).
Images made with a DSLR (Minolta 7D), 400 mm lens plus 2x converter, using medical film as solar filter.



Auriga M36 M37 M38 astrotrac astrophotography

Star clusters M37, M36 and M38 in Auriga. Stack of 28 images, Nikon D90, 85mm/f1.8@f4.0, 80 sec per image, Astrotrac. March 6, 2011.


Comet Hartley on October 16, 2010.



Movie of 8 images, shot over a time period of ca. 1 hour. Minolta 7D (DSLR), 135mm/f2.8, exposure time 120 sec per image.
An AstroTrac was used for tracking.


Mars during 2010.

Planet Mars DMK C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography

Planet Mars DMK C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography

Planet Mars DMK C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography

For recent amateur images of Mars (and other planets) visit ALPO (international) and NVWS (Netherlands).


Pluto on August 22 & 23, 2009.
Pluto C11 DMK animated gif

It was not easy to find Pluto (I don't have a goto-mount) in a city-light polluted sky, due it's
low altitude (20 degrees) and low magnitude of 14.0. This animated gif shows Pluto at two positions, 24h apart.



Saturn's rings since 2006.

Planet Saturn C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography Planet Saturn DMK C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography Planet Saturn DMK C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography Planet Saturn DBK C11 barlow HEQ5 astrophotography
Image at upper left: Saturn on March 15, 2006. An evening of good seeing (by Dutch standards).
C11 on HEQ5, ToUcam with barlow.

Second image: Saturn during March 2007. A monochrome image (DMK, March 15) was combined with a
colour image (ToUcam, March 13). Especially on March 15 (again!) the seeing was rather good.
The (smoothed) colour image was registered (aligned) with the monochrome image by ImageJ (using plugin TurboReg,
which allows for registration with scaling and rotation); the images were combined (and further processed) with Paint Shop Pro 8.

Third image: Saturn on April 17, 2008. A monochrome image was combined with a colour image (ToUcam).
Fourth image: Saturn on April 9, 2009.
For many great images of Saturn, it's rings and it's moons, visit the Cassini-Huygens website.
See also APOD of April 30, 2004.


Mars during 2007-2008.

Imaging of Mars' moon Deimos.

Mars moon Deimos C11 DMK
     Movie of Mars and Deimos. January 9, 2008.
     The movie consists of 100 images, exposure time 4 sec/image.
     This movie (before cropping) was used to create the image above (left).
     Mars (magnitude -1.3) is strongly overexposed/saturated.
     Deimos (magnitude 12.9) is just visible at left of the saturated area.
     Mars' other moon, Phobos, is hidden by the saturation.
     Intensity of the images is varying due to thin clouds, drifting fast.

Planet Mars DMK C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography

Planet Mars DMK C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography

Planet Mars DMK C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography

Planet Mars DMK C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography

Planet Mars DMK C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography


Comet Holmes.

Comet Holmes C11 HEQ5 astrophotography
Comet Holmes surprised astro fans with a sudden outburst on October 24, 2007.
It became visible to the naked eye, rapidly expanding in size.
The image was made with a C11, focal reducer and Minolta 7D DSLR (single image, 1600ASA, 30 sec.;
no filters used; city-light polluted sky. November 7, 2007, 23h30 (22h30 UT)).
This simple image cannot show the complex tail of this comet.
The image at left shows a star chart, the red circle has diameter 19 arcminutes (full moon has size ca. 30 arcmin).
See also this wiki and the spaceweather site.



Planet Jupiter DMK C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography
Jupiter on June 12, 2006. An evening of relatively good seeing, but Jupiter's altitude was rather low (22 degrees),
resulting in atmospheric dispersion which Registax could not fully correct for (a blue edge persists);
an atmospheric dispersion corrector would have been useful.
The 'baby red spot' is visible, a few weeks later it would pass by the Great Red Spot.
See APOD of May 5, 2006 and APOD of July 25, 2006.


Planet Venus C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography Planet Venus C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography
Venus on December 25, 2005 and April 15, 2007. C11 with Barlow, ToUCam.


Planet Mars C11 ToUcam barlow HEQ5 astrophotography
Mars (left) on November 21, 2005. Angular size was 18.3". Image at right was generated by SkyCharts.



Messier M5 Globular cluster DMK C11 HEQ5 astrophotography
(click to enlarge)
Globular cluster M5 in Serpens. June 5, 2006. 120 frames (exp. 2 seconds) were stacked with Registax.


Messier M57 NGC6720 Ring Nebula DMK C11 HEQ5 astrophotography NGC2392 Eskimo Nebula DMK C11 HEQ5 astrophotography
Left image: planetary nebula M57 (Ring Nebula, NGC6720) in Lyra. June 10, 2006. 105 frames (exp. 4 seconds) were stacked
with Registax. M57 has a relatively high surface brightness of 17.9. See also this APOD.
Right image: Eskimo nebula (NGC2392) in Gemini. February 12, 2008. 75 frames (exp. 4 sec.) were stacked.
NGC2392 has a high surface brightness of 16.2, so it is even visible (when looking through a C11) under a city-light polluted sky.
More information on 'surface brightness' (not to be confused with 'integrated brightness') of deep-sky objects can be found here and here.


Messier M42 Orion Nebula Trapezium DMK C11 HEQ5 astrophotography
(click to enlarge)
Center of Orion Nebula M42 in Orion. February 3, 2007. 50 monochrome frames (exp. 4 seconds) were stacked with Registax,
for each of the colours R, G, B (using colour filters, with monochrome camera DMK 31AF03, using a focal reducer).
R, G, B frames aligned and stacked (weight 1, 2, 1) by N. Noordhoek, using MatLab.
The central quadruple star is known as the Trapezium (Theta Orionis).


Messier M37 open cluster DMK C11 HEQ5 astrophotography
(click to enlarge)
Open Cluster M37 in Auriga. February 3, 2007. 50 monochrome frames (exp. 4 seconds) were stacked with Registax,
for each of the colours R, G, B (using colour filters) and luminosity L (with monochrome camera DMK 31AF03, using a focal reducer).
L, R, G, B frames were aligned and stacked with Iris.




The Double Double (Epsilon Lyra) in constellation Lyra.
These two tight pairs (magnitudes 5.0 and 6.1, separation 2.6 arcseconds and M5.2, M5.5, 2.3 arcseconds)
have sufficient separation (208 arcseconds) to be visible to the naked eye (as a pair of stars)
on a clear, non-light-polluted evening.




Double star Zeta Bootes (magnitude 4.6 and 4.7, separation 0.7 arcseconds) is a nice test for a 11 inch
telescope (which has a theoretical resolving power better than 0.5 arcseconds).
Despite poor seeing, the stars often separate.
This convinced me that (often poor) quality of my images was caused by the Dutch atmosphere rather than by the telescope ...


Double star Castor (in Gemini; magnitude 1.9 and 2.9, separation 3.9 arcseconds) is shown here, defocused
(March 15, 2006, good seeing).
Diffraction rings are symmetrical, an indication that the C11 was well-collimated.


This C11 telescope on a HEQ5 mount was used to make these images (click to enlarge):

Celestron C11 HEQ5 telescope Celestron C11 HEQ5 telescope

Celestron C11 HEQ5 telescope Celestron C11 HEQ5 telescope

This HEQ5 does a good job in carrying the C11, which has a weight (14 kg) which is somewhat beyond the specced
capacity of a HEQ5. Tracking is smooth, this C11/HEQ5 combination is well-suited for visual use.


Periodic error of HEQ5 (with C11 and ToUcam)

The image below shows the trail of the star Arcturus, imaged over a period of 22 minutes (April 26, 2006).
The star drifts due to inaccurate polar alignment. Superimposed on the drift is an oscillation caused
by periodic error (PE); there is a low- and a high-frequency component.
The high-frequency oscillation has a peak-to-peak (P-P) amplitude of ca. 30 pixels, or 12 arcseconds.
The low-frequency oscillation has a P-P amplitude of ca. 20 arcseconds.
So my HEQ5 has a (short-term) periodic error of ca. 12 arcseconds P-P.

More information on (PE of) the HEQ5 can be found here (in German), here (in French) and here (in English).

Celestron C11 HEQ5 telescope periodic error

I never modified my HEQ5 in any way. PE at present is no problem for visual and webcam use.
However, some people have found it useful to install new gears and motors in their HEQ5 (or EQ6)
(see Rajiva's kit), in order to reduce PE and support autoguiding.


Much information about (consumer) telescopes can be found on Cloudy Nights.



My first telescope was a 5 inch Maksutov. See some images here.



Moon Lunar Clavius DMK Barlow

Lunar astrophotography with a DMK camera


The "seeing" over Holland
Orion constellation stars astrophotography

Wide field astrophotography (low budget)



[© P. van de Haar. Page started December 11, 2006. This page was last updated on November 26, 2011]


to home page

Locations of visitors to this page