It took me a long time to process this one - it has been almost a year for me on Jupiter, so I forgot alot of the software settings and such that I like to use. Also, I am still experimenting with the best settings on the camera.
The scope is my trusty 8" f/5 newtonian, and the camera is a Unibrain color web camera.
Of course, it is now scheduled to be cloudy here for the next week again - *sigh*.....
Not my best image - the seeing wasn't great, and I am a little rusty at processing. But I have to say, that after what seems like an ETERNITY of bad weather dating back to October, and several equipment failures, it feels really good to just have an image to work on again.
My trusty Toucam seems to have mysteriously died while in storage, so this is a new camera I am experimenting with - it is superior to the Toucam in many ways, and I think once I get a handle on it, it will produce better images.
"but still stay completely portable without the use of a computer"
I'm right there with you, Ron!
That was the attraction of the Digital Rebel for me (for deep space work) - I love not draging a computer out to my observing site.
At the rate that DV cams are decreasing in size, it certainly would be possible to do - I have seen some smaller than my digital camera. The only thing I am dubious about is the quality of the lenses on such small cameras - maybe fine for shooting videos of the kids, but probably not good enough for critical work like planetary imaging. I haven't really seen one yet with a removable lens.
I think you need to stay within a 3-minute time frame to keep from seeing any major rotation, but you will get clearer details if you stay within 1 minute.
The name of the game is "capture as many frames as possible within a short period of time". This is where webcams excel, and why they have become so popular for planetary/lunar imaging.
If there is one other "rule", it is "use the most frames per second possible". There is a myth going around that it is better to use less frames per second, but this is absolutely not true. Using the greatest fps has two benefits: 1. You can get the maximum frames in the shortest possible time, therefore avoiding rotation smearing. 2. The shorter the frame, the better you can "freeze" the seeing, which will give you clearer frames - think of a longer frame (i.e. slower frame rate) as a long-exposure image. Like using a regular camera, the longer the exposure, the more motion blur you will get. Conversely, the shorter the exposure, the more you can "freeze" the action. This is what you should try to do with your webcam - using lower fps rates will give you "motion blur" if the seeing is not perfect (which is 99% of the time, as we all know).
At the same time, the limiting factor to higher frame-rates is your telescope aperture, focal length, etc. You will often have to increase the gain when using higher frame-rates. I have found that in general, using a higher-frame rate with added gain still produces a better image than a lower frame-rate with less gain noise. Besides, stacking will take care of any noise anyway. Think about this - if you use 30 fps, you can capture 900 frames (plenty enough to run through a good stacking program) in only 30 seconds. In that time frame, you will have a very negligable amount of rotational smearing, and will have several frames which "freeze" the seeing quite well.
That's a good one, Ron - looks like you had some good seeing!
I think as long as you stay under two minutes it is fine - most of my best captures were right around a minute. I don't think that 45 seconds is too short at all - it really depends on your seeing conditions and your frames per second. I have had great shots with 30 sec captures.
I got my new camera today to replace my Toucam - hopefully I will get a chance at Jupiter myself, if I can still remember how to do it!
I have finally been getting some clear nights here after an awfully long 6 months of clouds, rain, floods, and poor seeing.
Don't give up on your 8" - the seeing is the biggest factor. I had an unusually steady night last night, and was able to visually observe in my 8" at 440x magnification - it was clearer than looking at a good photo. I wish I had been able to image, but my Toucam seems to have died just in time for the Jupiter opposition!
I have seen the 10"SN LXD75 in the field, and it is not a good choice for imaging. I didn't find the mount nearly strong enough for the 10" tube for even visual observing - it shook in the slightest breeze, and from focusing. For imaging, you need a much more stable mount than that. Also, the LXD mounts do not have an autoguider port. I would think a good wedge with your current scope would make a much better imaging platform.