Astrophotography always represents deep sky photography and planetary photography. Both photographies have their own taste.
I started my astrophotography hobby with Planet viewing, and then I began to capture it with my DSLR., so I am sharing my experience here which may help you to do planet photography and comfortable with fun.
Beginning with all details steps of Jupiter and Saturn photography, let’s have some necessary information details.
Guidelines – How to do planet photography or Planetary imaging
You would need a telescope to capture all planets – like Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mars. You can do it with a telephoto lens but aperture and focal length play a very important role in planetary astrophotography.
The telescope must have a Large focal length with high focal ratio value, i.e., significant F value.
If we go with higher magnification, definitely we would need telescope mount which can track an object in such large magnification with auto guiding via guiding scope.
Always before going for capture, I would always recommend getting viewing experience of planets, viewing always gives you a better understanding, and slowly you can be understood more during an imaging session.
I would recommend getting variable eyepiece instead of individuals eyepieces, and this helps to save your time of refocusing and also help not to change eyepieces each time.
Planet imaging camera.
I recommend having any planetary specific camera if you don’t have it and don’t have the budget to get then you can even use DSLR.
The planetary camera can be any camera, even you can use web-camera, which has a high frame rate, you need to check the “fps” factor.
fps stands for frame per seconds. More the value gives more frames.
I have ZWO ASI224MC , which is good for planetary photography and deep sky astrophotography as well.
Planet photography can do without guiding!!!!
You just need more fps value, which will give you more frame per seconds to capture.
If you have a small aperture telescope and wanted to get bigger planet photos, then I would say get 2X or 3X Barlow lens.
Planet photography capturing software
For capturing planet images, I am using Sharpcap which give you full control while imaging planets as well as DSO, deep sky objects like a nebula, galaxies, global cluster.
Planetary imaging stacking softwares
Stacking is essential in astrophotography. As everyone knows that to get the final result, we need to do image alignment and stacking. Thanks to Sharpcap, Autostakkert, and Registax which give an easy way to capture planetary photos.
For Planet photography I use Autostakkert and Registax software.
You can use this same technique for Jupiter photography and Saturn photography.
Always do some research before starting deep sky photography or Planet photography, here are some tips.
How to Spot Planets?
The very ubiquitous and fundamental question everyone has. Even when I started my astrophotography hobby, I was always wondered about how I can differentiate planets and stars. Then I came across Mobile APP Skysafari.
Skysafari is a free app for Android and IOS, it also has Pro version which is paid, and with new Pro version, you can connect your Goto telescope mount with Skysafari APP and perform Goto function.
Download Skysafari APP from playstore
Open Skysafari APP and goto Settings , Setup your current location or manually enter your City.
Once you are done with Setup now try to find tonight’s best objects like planets, it shows when it raises, which location tab by using it you can locate Jupiter or planet.
Click any of the planet to get more details and current or future location . Once you click on the planet you will get desciption with planetary image . On left hand side you can see location
You can switch on Compass tab or just move the mobile to get exact location of plant .
I am happy to help you if you need more details kindly drop me note on comments and I will try my best to answer your questions.
How to capture planets using Sharpcap software
Install Sharpcap software from their official website.Its free to use.
After installation, Open Sharpcap, connect your planetary camera to your laptop. Sharpcap will auto-detect your camera and will appear in Camera tab like below. click on your camera and it will auto connect.
You can see the settings tab on the right hand side. Try to adjust settings to get a live image of planets on screen. You may use the default setting Sharpcap team has provided.
Once you see planet photo on screen try to focus it correctly so get sharper image after stacking.
Try to play with settings, like change exposure time, gain value to get a brighter image and more detailed image.
Once you are happy with the live view press capture button and start capturing video in AVI format.
Your Raw image doesn’t look sharp ?? Don’t worry its normal, in final processing, you will get an excellent acceptable image.
I usually take 5000 frames which takes me 1-3 mins to capture, and here I always need to make sure in this period Planets needs to be in my live view frame.
This will create AVI video in your Sharpcap Captures folder.
Open Sharpcap video in AutoStakkers and perform stacking and alignment. I follow below steps.
Open video file
Place AP grip automatically over Object
Once Stacking is done then Save images.
Now open final stacked image in Registrax software and adjust setting to get sharper and noise free image.
Planetary photography is awesome and can be easy if you follow these steps.
Get a telescope and high-speed frame image camera – Planetary camera recommended.