Photographing Jupiter at Opposition with a Blackberry

On the night of September 21st 2010 Jupiter was at Opposition. This is when a planet is on the opposite side of the sky to the sun. For Jupiter this happens once every 400 days however this year it’s occurring close to the time when the planet is also at perihelion, when it’s at it’s closest to the Sun – that will happen next March.

In addition to this, the planet Uranus was also at opposition and visible in the same field of view with binoculars.

Now not wanting to miss this opportunity (I’ve not done any astrophotography for years), I decided to get my 8″ Meade LX200 out of mothballs and have a crack at Jupiter with my Canon EOS D30 camera attached to the scope using a T adapter/autoguider, so I could have an eyepiece attached at the same time.

Unfortunately, due to not having the battery charged I had to rely on manually moving the scope. However for jupiter you don’t need too long an exposure, so in this case it wouldn’t be a problem.

The following two pictures were the best. Although the camera picked up colours, the size of jupiter in the frame was small, so the results were pretty poor:

So, giving up on that idea I thought about trying the old eyepiece projection technique. This is where you just have an eyepiece attached to the scope and then a camera is focused against the eyepiece. This has the benefit of giving a higher magnification of the view but the downside that a lack of guiding or other external vibration would be evident in the image.

With these problems in mind I decided to try to use the Blackberry’s camera instead, and surprisingly the results were impressive.

The image above is the best one. Nothing’s been done to that image other than cropping it. The following two images are where some enhancement was done to it, but all that was done was to adjust the image levels so that the clouds were more prominent:

In the second of these there’s a small spec in the image. Looking at Stellarium this appears to be Ganymede… not bad for a BlackBerry Bold 9000

Forking projects

Just a quick one this (apart from trying out the ScribeFire FireFox plugin to see how it does for posting to the blog)… today whilst searching Google for something totally different I found a project on SourceForge called gnujpdf which is a fork of my old retepPDF project.

I’ve not tried it, but it’s good to see someone resurrecting old code (although it does appear to have been dormant for about 2 years now).

This project is a new version of a project called ‘retepPDF’ by Peter
Mount. The project hadn’t been touched in a long time and I wanted to
make some considerable changes to it, so I started a new project and
renamed the package. I haven’t been able to contact Peter yet, but all
credit to him for the hard work of figuring out Adobe’s wacky file
format.

That’s nice – actually Adobe’s format is pretty well engineered, some of the better specification documentation I’ve ever seen so it was easy.

The one thing that got me was this:

This library started out as RetepPDF, by a guy named Peter T. Mount,
whom I have yet to speak with. When researching existing projects to
fill the need for the PDF functionality, I found RetepPdf on
sourceforge and tried to get in touch with Peter, but never had any
luck. The package hadn’t been touched in a while, and I wanted to
improve it, so I opened a new project on sourceforge.

Hmmm, unless it was an obsolete email address (not likely since 2000) it’s probably been a spam filter as I always reply to this sort of thing.

I don’t mind people forking my code, it actually shows to me it’s being used. It’s just nice to know of the forks as I’d probably either help out or see how differently people do things or find bugs etc.

I’m online in various forms, either email (peter at retep dot org dot
uk), jabber (peter at retep dot org), msn (retep207 at hotmail dot com)
the two blogs and various forums dotted around so it’s not like I’m living on a different planet…