Ed Grafton's CCD Astro-imaging Page
This image of Saturn was taken with a C14 and a ST6 CCD

This page is intended to show what can be done by anyone in their backyard with a telescope and CCD camera.

           The CCD Revolution
With the advent of CCD cameras it became possible to image deep sky objects from sites that were previously ill suited utilizing traditional film photography. My backyard is definitely not considered prime real estate by any standard an astro-imager could imagine. Located 25 miles south of downtown Houston and 25 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico, the limiting magnitude is usually 3.0 - 3.5. But what could not be done with film and filters in the past, can now routinely be done with a computer and a CCD camera.

Tri- Color Imaging

The Color Images on this page were made through the process of combining three separate images taken through red ,green, and blue (RGB); or cyan, magenta, and yellow (CMY) filters. An infrared blocking filter was used in series with each of the RGB & CMY filters. Images that are generically referred to as LRGB or WCMY images have been combined with a monochrome image to improve the S/N ratio. Additional information on LRGB and WCMY imaging can be read in the December 1998 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine or the draft ( authored by Richard Berry, Al Kelly, Chuck Shaw and Ed Grafton) of this article can be read online.

An analytical analysis of the signal to noise ratio between CMY and RGB filtered images.

How Do You Take CCD Images?

A Basic manual on acquiring and processing CCD images is being developed by Al Kelly and Ed Grafton. If you are interested in learning more about this process then be sure and read this document.


Whats New....
Jupiter on February 11th 2015. This image was  taken with an ASI120mm camera and a C14 from Houston
Mars on May 21st and May 23rd 2014. Mars was about 12.5 arc seconds in diameter when these two images were taken. The volcanoes of the Tharsis Shield can be seen peaking above a cloudy Mars.

Jupiter images from the 2014 opposition. Jupiter opposition occurred January 5th 2014 when it reached about 47 arc seconds in diameter. Images taken with a C14.
  Jupiter images from the 2012 opposition
Jupiter opposition in 2012 occurs on December 3rd when it will be at about 48 arc seconds in diameter. Images taken with a C14 and a st402 CCD from Houston Texas.
Mars as seen on March 25th at 05:12UT from Houston Texas. The largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons, is seen in this image near the center of the globe, with it's darker peak  seen poking through the surrounding clouds.
Jupiter as seen on September 29th 2011. Jupiter's red spot can be seen in this image rotating into view. In the north equatorial belt a prominent barge is seen, just having crossed crossing the central meridian.

Mars Dust Storm Sequence. Here is a sequence of images from October 18th through October 26th 2005. The Dust can be see to eventually become defuse and spread over a large area of the Southern Hemisphere.

Dust Storm expands into Solas Lacus! On October 21st, the dust storm had moved farther South and West to Solas Lacus and deeper into Mare Erthraeum. Several dust cores can be seen in these areas against a general backdrop of yellow dustiness. In this image the North Polar Hood is very prominent. The red deserts, blue polar and limb clouds and the yellow dust storm, have conspired to configure the god of war into a heavenly gem of beauty. C14 @ f/39 taken from Houston Texas October 21st 2005.

Dust Storm Expands South into Mare Erythraeum! By October 20th, the dust storm continued its trek to the south, spilling out of Valles Marineris. The Yellow dust cloud can be seen as a veil of yellow with a few concentrated cores occupying Mare Erthraeum. C14 @ f/39 Taken from Houston Texas October 20th 2005.

Dust Storm Moves into Valles Marineris! By October 19th the Dust Storm had moved intoValles Marineris. The "Grand Canyon of Mars" is a vast canyon system that runs along the Martian equator just east of the Tharsis region. Valles Marineris is 4000 km (2500 miles) long and reaches depths of up to 7 km (4 miles). In this image the dust can be seen concentrated in the valley snaking its way through the canyons. C14 @ f/39 taken from Houston Texas October 19th 2005.

Dust Storm on Mars! On October 17th a dust storm began brewing on Mars in Chryse Planitia, the "Plains of Gold". By the 18th, the storm had moved south into Eos and intensified with several dust cores presented against a backdrop of generalized dust. C14 @ f/39 taken with a ST402 CCD from Houston Texas October 17th and 18th 2005.

Mars 2005. The Mars apparition in 2005 brings the disk of Mars to a respectable 20 arc seconds near the end of October. Although Mars was 25 arc seconds in diameter in 2003, the higher altitude of Mars for Northern Hemisphere observers in 2005 makes it a very favorable apparition. In these images from September 5th until October 9th, a full apparent revolution of Mars is visible. The North Polar Hood is very prominent at the bottom of the images while the South Polar Cap is very small in response to the Southern Hemisphere summer. In some images the NPH shows detail with brighter and lesser condensations.

Uranus and its Moons. In these images taken July 14th, 16th, 22nd, and 23rd, the 4 brightest moons of Uranus are visible, Titania, Oberon, Umbreil and Areil. In the July 14th image (left) a brighter area is noted in the northern polar regions. The July 16th image (middle) was processed to show the brightness variations across the globe of Uranus, again the brightest area noted in the northern polar region. The right images are from July 22nd and 23rd. The July 23rd image was processed to show brightness levels across the globe of Uranus.

Oval BA Approaches the Great Red Spot. In these pair of images taken on March 11th and May 20th, oval BA can be seen approaching the GRS. The GRS and oval BA reached conjunction in July 2004.

Jupiter as Seen on April 02nd,10th and, 19th.

Jupiter and it's Moons IO and Ganymede. In this image, IO can be seen as the "yellowish" star to the right. Ganymede's shadow is very pronounced on the right side, on the northern edge of the North Equatorial Belt ( north is down in this image). On the lower left of the image, Ganymede can be seen in transit across Jupiter. Ganymede appears somewhat oblate in this image due to it's albedo features as seen against the globe of Jupiter.

Activity on Saturn. Saturn's globe has many of the same types of features that Jupiter has. These features on Saturn are very difficult to detect since Saturn is farther away and the features contrast are much lower on Saturn. In the middle image a dark spot is seen to rotate with the globe of Saturn along the south edge of the SEB. In the right image a storm is seen in the south (up) temperate region. This storm is a new one that was first imaged on January 18th. C14 @ f/27 taken with a ST5 CCD from Houston Texas.

Jupiter on January 11th and February 28th. These images of Jupiter show many festoons in the equatorial region along with some small white ovals in the far south (up) region. C14 @ f/27 taken with a ST5 CCD from Houston Texas.

Saturn on December 7th. This image of Saturn shows several features that are rotating with the globe of Saturn. C14 @ f/27, ST5 CCD.

Dark Area Precedes -29 degree Latitude Spot. Just preceding the -29 degree spot is an elongated dark area. In this series of images the dark area can be seen to be rotating with the globe of Saturn. In images taken with the the HST( see HST images courtesy of Dr. Agustín Sánchez Lavega of the HST imaging team), the -29 degree spot has a different appearance depending on wavelength. Above 555nm the spot takes on an amorphous structure. The dark area preceding the spot shows the most contrast at 555 nm. The -29 degree white spot( blue line) has been tracked by the HST and by several amateurs and its drift rate is also shown.

Saturn Spot Observed at -29 Degrees Latitude. A small storm is observed in this image taken on October 19th at -29 degrees latitude, just on the edge of the South Equatorial belt. This was the third image of this spot obtained from Houston, the first being on October 9th. The storm is of low contrast and at the limit of resolution with amateur size scopes. This spot was first imaged by the HST on August 25th and subsequent images showed that the spot had a drift rate of -7.8 degrees per day in System III. This graphic is courtesy of Dr. Agustín Sánchez Lavega of the HST imaging team.

Saturn 2003-2004 Apparition. This image of Saturn was taken on October 20th 2003. Saturn is now visible in the early mourning hours reaching it's highest point in the sky before mourning twilight begins. Frequently the best seeing occurs in the early mourning hours after the seeing has had a chance to settle down. This image was taken with a ST5 CCD from Houston Texas.

Mars One day Before Opposition 2003. This image was taken on August 26th 2003. mars was over 25 arc seconds in diameter, tiny by most standards but very large for Mars in this favorable opposition. mars presented the Solis Lacus ( lake of the Sun) region this day from Houston Texas. This region is sometimes referred to as the "Eye of Mars" since some see this region as resembling an eye.

Mars Volcano Olympus Mons. The Largest Volcano in The Solar System is Olympus Mons in the Tharsis region of Mars. It rises 15 miles above the surrounding plane and is over 500 miles in diameter. Here it can be seen as a round lighter area in the lower middle portion of the image. Image taken with a C14 @ f/39 and a ST5 CCD from Houston Texas August 21st 2003.

Dust Cloud Seen on Mars July 30th 2003! This storm must have begun only hours before the 30th image was taken ( Left image), no dust showed on the 29th in this same region. The yellow dust cloud can be seen in the Chryse Planitia ( the plains of gold ) and has a distinctive horizontal V shape. The next day on the 31st ( right image) the dust had spread south ( UP ) into Eos and Margaritifer Sinus where a concentrated dust core can be seen. Images taken with a C14 @ f/39 with a ST5 CCD from Houston Texas.

Mars July 6th through July 13th. The Dust storm that erupted on July 1st to the South of the Hellas Basin has subsided. It does appear that the storm did leave the atmosphere somewhat dusty as in some of the images above there appears to be a yellow haze on the mourning horizon. The images above, taken over a period of one week, show that Mars seems to rotate slowly. Mars actually has a rotation rate about 40 minutes longer than the Earth's rotation, so Mars presents a face about 10 degrees different from day to day when viewed at the same time each day. Images taken from Houston Texas with a C14 and a ST5 CCD.

Mars Dust Cloud Erupts! In the early mourning hours of July 1st, a small dust cloud was noticed by Don Parker and Jeff Beish in the area just to the north of the Hellas Basin. Jeff had been observing and sketching Mars every clear mourning and Don had been using a ST9 CCD with his 16 inch Newtonian to capture images. A pre-disturbance image of the area was captured by Ed Grafton on June 28th( middle image above) which showed that no dust was present in the area at that time. The right image was taken on July 2nd and the dust cloud can be seen to be well developed. The image on the left was taken on July 3rd and the dust cloud can be seen to have advanced into the northern part on the Hellas Basin.

South Equatorial Belt South (SEBs) Oval approaching GRS. A white oval located at the Southern edge of the Jupiter's South Equatorial Belt is being carried into the GRS Hollow by the SEBs jet stream. This jet stream, like jet streams in the Earths atmosphere, has a much higher velocity than the surrounding atmospheric winds and the oval is being carried rapidly into the GRS Hollow. In the above images, taken from March 15th through April 18th, the oval can be seen to travel along the South edge of the SEB and into the GRS Hollow where it was located directly North of the GRS on April 18th. It is not yest known if the white oval will survive it's encounter with the GRS. Images taken with C14 @ f/27 and a ST5 CCD from Houston Texas.

Anticyclonic White Oval AW05. The white oval AW05 in recent days has taken on a different appearance. In the above image white oval AW05 can be seen to have a double lobed morphology contrary to it's nearly circular morphology previously. AW05 is the white oval just below and to the right of the GRS. This image was taken from Houston Texas on March 15th 2003 with a C14 and ST5 CCD.

Jupiter's South South Temperate Belt (SSTB) Anticyclonic White Ovals. In the above image, a string of long lived ovals occupy the area at about 40 degrees S. latitude. In March 2002 a merging event took place between two of the white ovals. This was the first time such an event was witnessed directly for Jovian anticyclonic vortices located at this latitude.   An image of the event can be seen here. The above images were taken with a C14 and ST5 on January 18th 2003 from Houston Texas.

Jupiter Near Opposition. Jupiter reached it's opposite point from the Sun relative to the Earth on February 2nd 2003. At this time the shadow transits of Jupiter's moons are nearly directly behind the transiting moon's disk. In this image Io can be seen just exiting the disk of Jupiter and it's shadow can be seen nearly directly behind it. Image taken February 1st 2003 with a C14 and ST5 CCD from Houston Texas.

Saturn January 5th 2003 at 05:30 UT. Saturn is now a few weeks past opposition and the globe's shadow on the rings can begin to be seen. No large storms at -42 degrees are visible in this image but a smaller storm at about -30 degrees may just be resolved. This image was taken with a C14 and a ST5 CCD from Houston Texas.

Oval BA in Jupiter's South Temperate Zone. In these two images of Jupiter, Oval BA is visible in the lower left and lower right. This oval is a product of two merged ovals FA and BE which combined into BA in March of 2000. The oval BE was formed in 1998 from the two Ovals BC and DE. These four "ancestors " of BA having endured for over 60 years, are now all merged into oval BA. These images of Jupiter were made with a C14 and a ST5 CCD on January 4th and 5th 2003 from Houston Texas.

Dark Material Surrounds the Great Red Spot. On December 22nd, the GRS presented a doughnut or bulls eye appearance. This transient feature is likely due to the GRS sweeping up darker material into it's vortex. A likely source of this darker material is from an eddy that rides the jet stream that runs along the Southern border of the SEB. As eddies sweep around the Northern edge of the GRS, they are sometimes captured and swept back into the GRS vortex. This image was taken from Houston Texas on December 22nd with a C14 and a ST5c CCD.

New Brighter Storm Observed on Saturn! Another in a series of Saturn Storms was seen on December 22nd around 06:00 UT. The storm is located at a System 3 longitude of about 330 degrees and is in the mid southern temperate latitudes at about -42 degrees. This storm is the largest/brightest that has been seen in a series of storms that have presented themselves in the last few weeks. It may be that Saturn's atmosphere has entered a more active period since it is currently near perihelion. It is difficult to estimate what the visibility of the storm will be in the coming days but it will be well placed for viewing with the spot near the central meridian just before or around 06:00 UT on December 26th and December 30th. Excellent seeing conditions will be needed to allow the storm to be seen visually in 8-10inch and larger scopes.

Commentary on Saturn's Storms/Spots. Another in a series of Saturn Storms was seen from Houston Texas on December 29th 2002. This storm is smaller than the previously observed "bright" storm on December 22nd at L3~ 330 degrees. It is located at approximately the same latitude as the other storms, at about -42 degrees, and was at about a system three longitude of L3~234 degrees on the 29th. The storm was observed by the HST on December 17th and by Damian Peach on December 18th.

Earlier in this years Saturn apparition, there was some conjecture that these small spots/storms have been prevalent all along and that higher resolution images in this years apparition have revealed them. I do not believe this to be true any longer. There was good coverage at high resolution by at least three amateurs last year; myself, D. Peach and D. Parker. None of the now seemingly ubiquitous spots were observed during the last apparition. One must conclude that these features are a new phenomenon over recent years.

The Storms seem to be short lived and appear and dissipate over a period of a few days or couple of weeks. It seems that if the storms were of longer duration, then the area at -42 degrees ( the latitude where the storms are appearing ), would be a ring of storms at this time. Damian Peach made an observation of the relatively bright December 22nd L3~330 storm on December 24th and noted that it had already faded somewhat, hinting at their volatile and limited life time.

Given the relatively short duration of the storms, it seems most likely that the storms are eruptive in nature and do not represent an organization of matter such as eddies or vortexes which would have an angular momentum that would tend to sustain them for longer periods. If the storms are eruptive in nature, they are probably convection generated.

Saturn is currently near perihelion as it is every 30 years and is receiving maximum solar radiation in the southern hemisphere. The additional solar radiation in Saturn's south temperate zone during this period may be responsible for the increase in convection currently seen as Saturn's atmosphere heats up. The solar radiation is currently at it's maximum at -25 latitude given the tilt of Saturn on it's rotational axis. The atmosphere of Saturn also goes through a "heating lag" just as the hottest days for the N. hemisphere of Earth is not at the Summer Solstice but occurs a few weeks later in July or August. This would translate into a lag on Saturn of a couple of years. If the frequency of the storms is related to perihelion or the current high solar radiation at southern latitudes, then Saturn may be even more active with eruptive storms/spots in the next year or two. In the last perihelion 30 years ago there may have been insufficient coverage at the required resolution to detect these convective events.

Oddly the area around -42 degrees seems to be the favorite choice for the storms to appear. Not considering a sub-atmospheric feature then it must be that convection storms at this latitude can more easily reach the upper atmosphere and become visible where at other latitudes the convection is somehow disrupted. Perhaps this latitude represents a "window" where atmospheric shearing forces are less and allow the convection eruptions to bubble into the upper atmosphere.

HST Views Saturn Spot. On November 30th the Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of the spot ( convective storm ) in Saturn's south temperate zone. The storm was first observed ( image at left ) on September 29th 2002 from Houston Texas with a C14 and was verified by Don Parker of S. Florida on October 8th. On the 29th it was located-42 degrees latitude and about 94 degrees SIII longitude. On November 30th the HST imaged the spot (at much higher resolution!) and this can be seen in the right portion of the above image. The storm has been drifting in longitude and by November 30th, when imaged by the HST the storm was at about 120 degrees SIII longitude.

Jupiter's Moon Shadows from Callisto and IO. Shadow transits occur on a regular basis but to see two at one time is more rare. Here can be seen the shadow of IO and Callisto slipping off the edge of the globe. Note how the shadows are elongated as they are cast on the curving part of Jupiter's globe. In the center of Jupiter the Moon Io also can be seen in transit. Note that Io shows a phase angle just as Jupiter does. Image taken December 15th 2002 from Houston Texas with a C14 and a ST5 CCD.

Saturn at Opposition December 17th 2002. Saturn reaches opposition every 13 months but every 30 years Saturn is at perihelion and therefore has an extra close path to the Earth. The rings of Saturn at this time are at their maximum tilt and are providing their best view. At opposition the shadow of the globe cannot be seen on the ring system as it lies directly behind the globe. Look for the globe shadow to become visible in the coming weeks. Two of Saturn's moons are also visible in this image, Tethys and Encedulas. Image taken December 15 2002 from Houston Texas with a C14 and ST5 CCD.

Jupiter's Red Spot and it's Moon Callisto. The left image shows an interesting dark swirl in the GRS and many disturbed features/eddies following in it's wake. The GRS has darkened in recent weeks and has a more pronounced coloration than in the last few years. There are many delicate blue festoons in the equatorial region. The Northern segment of the EZ shows a yellow tint that comes and goes over a period of months and was also present last year. Several white ovals are present in the S. Temperate region. The SEB usually shows a smooth arc flowing past the GRS but in this image there is an indentation just to the North( below) the GRS. This indentation represents an eddy that is sweeping past the GRS. Sometimes these eddies are captured by the GRS and mixed into the GRS vortex. This results in the GRS changing its color in response to the new material captured. The middle image of Jupiter taken 11-20-02 also shows it's moon Callisto and the right image is an enlargement of Callisto. The equatorial diameter of Jupiter is presently (11-23-02) 39.6 arc seconds.

Another White Spot Discovered on Saturn! On November 19th, Damian Peach of the BAA, imaged another white spot in the S. Temperate region of Saturn. The spot was measured to be at L3=51.6( System 3 longitude)and at a declination of -41. On November 22nd Damian imaged it again and it's position was measured to be at at L3=52.6, and a declination of -41.5. This gives a preliminary drift of +0.3degs/day vs L3. The Spot was confirmed in the above images taken November 20th from Houston Texas. It is somewhat unusual for these feature to show with frequency and may be an indication that Saturn has entered a more active period. The above Image taken with a C14 and a ST5c CCD.

Saturn Observations. These images of Saturn were made on October 1st, 4th and November 23rd. Images taken from Houston Texas with a C14 @f/27 and a ST5c CCD.

Saturn Spot Observed Again 10-07-02. Saturn's South Temperate spot was recovered on 10-07-02. It is still very low in contrast. The spot has been measured to be at -42 degrees latitude and on 10-07 was at about longitude 98 in system three coordinates. The spot is drifting about +1/3 degree per day relative to system 3 longitude. There has been at least one report of the spot being observed visually with an 11 inch scope. For the USA the spot will be well place for observation on Friday 10-11-02 at 11:00 UT where it will be approaching the central meridian. The second image above shows a sequence of images taken between 10:14 UT and 11:26 UT on October 7th 2002. The spot can be seen to be rotating in this sequence with the globe of Saturn. Images Taken with a C14 and a ST5 CCD from Houston Texas.

White Spot Observed in Saturn's S. Temperate Zone! On September 29th 2002 a small white spot was observed in the South Temperate zone of Saturn. The spot was nearly on the central meridian at 11:28 UT. Spots like this are rarely seen on Saturn and observations are encouraged to monitor it. The spot is about one arc second in size and of very low contrast. Excellent seeing will be required to observe it and a high contrast scope will work best. The middle sequence of four images were take over an interval of 48 minutes from 10:40 UT until 11:28 UT on the 29th. The spot can be seen to be rotating with the disk of Saturn. Danny Perry constructed an animated GIF from the above data and it can be viewed here. The spot is located at L3=94.5 longitude and -42.9 latitude. The right hand image was taken one day later on the 30th. In the right hand image the spot is barely visible, mostly in the inset image, about 40 degrees to the left from the central longitude. Why has the spot visibility changed so much in one day? Possible explanations are: 1) The spot is a very transient event and is not a cyclonic storm that would usually last for weeks or months, 2)But more likely, the spot is most visible when on the central longitude. When viewed from an angled perspective it is likely that the spot is being obscured by high level haze in the upper reaches of Saturn's atmosphere. This high level haze layer is the reason that Saturn does not display the cornucopia of disk detail that Jupiter shows. Images taken with a C14 @ f/27 with a ST5 CCD from Houston Texas September 29th and 30th 2002.

The Moons of Uranus. The Moons of Uranus can present quite a challenge to observe with amateur size scopes. Although Uranus has many moons only a few are bright enough to see visually and it will take a clear dark and steady sky with a good size scope to be successful. One's best bet is the moon Titiania with a diameter of about 1600km and a magnitude of about 13.5. The next two brightest moons are Oberon and Ariel at about magnitude 14. The "bright" glare from the planet will make it more difficult than these magnitudes indicate. Umbreil is next at about magnitude 14.5. The last of the brighter moons is Miranda. It's magnitude of about 16 makes it all but impossible to spot except in a 20-30 inch scope under perfect conditions. This image is a composite of two images, one to capture the disk of Uranus and the other to capture the moons.

The Gas Giant Uranus and it's moons. Uranus has a diameter of about 48,000 km but due to it's great distance from Earth, it displays a disk of only about 3.8 arc seconds. Uranus is about 2.8 million km from the sun and it takes 84 years for it to make one orbit. The four moons in this image range in brightness from about magnitude 14 to about magnitude 15 making them quite a challenge for for amateur astronomers to observe visually. This image of Uranus was made with a ST5c and a C14 @ f/27. Taken from Houston Texas 7/06/02 at 10:01 UT.

White Ovals Merging. At 50degrees South latitude ( just below the great red spot in this image) a pair of tiny ovals are in the process of merging and can barely be detected as separate in this high resolution image. From this and other images it appears that the two ovals circled one another in a spiral "dance" as they began converging. Taken with a C14 @ f/27 and a ST5c CCD from Houston Texas on March 28th 2002.

Making Color Planetary Images. The Planetary images on this page were made through a process ( called LRGB ) of taking 4 separate images and combining them into a single color composite. Red green and blue filters were used to gather the color information. The images through these filters yields the brightness of the object at 600-700 nano meters wavelength ( red ) , 500-600 nm ( green ) and 400-500 nm  ( blue ). A separate no filtered image was used to produce a high signal to noise image at 400-1000nm wavelength. Combining these four images yields the color composite.

Moon Crater Clavius. This crater is one of the largest on the Moon. It has many smaller "crater-lets" on its floor. It is a challenge to see how many can be resolved with an amateur telescope. Test your scope/skies/eyes by seeing how many you can resolve the next time it is well placed for observation. Taken with a C14 @ f/27 and a ST5c CCD from Houston Texas on March 24th 2002.

Oval Shadow from Ganymede. Being well past opposition, Jupiter is currenty about 41 arc seconds in diameter ( it reached a maximum in early January at about 47 arc seconds) and shrinking in apparent size daily. Ganymede's shadow can be seen about to exit the globe of Jupiter and is seen oblong by the foreshortening in longitude. The STZ is currently very nondescript at this CM and the STB belt is somewhat faded in this region. The NTB is very prominent and presents small rifts and spots along it's coarse. Several prominent festoons are present in the EZ. Barge B-4 is seen just above (south) of a rift in the NEB having already passed the CM. This image of Jupiter was taken with a C14 @ f/27 and a ST5c CCD from Houston, Texas on 03-07-02 2002 01:09 UT.

Oval BA Eases Past GRS. The oval BA appears as though it will ease past the GRS and remain intact and has now passed the central longitude of the GRS. In the next few weeks it is likely that the S. Trop. disturbance will be revived by the wake of BA passing the GRS. The NEB has a pronounced rift and several white spots are visible at about 41 degrees south longitude just below the GRS. The equatorial region has several festoons that are visible and much turbulence is seen following the GRS in the SEB. Images taken 02-25-2002 with a C14 @ f/27 and a ST5C CCD from Houston, Texas.

Oval BA and the Great Red Spot. Oval BA is a long lived white oval that has survived for decades( the Red Spot has been around for several hundred years or more). Here oval BA can be seen just above the Great Red spot. The two have been approaching one another and can be seen further apart in an image taken in December. It is unknown weather BA will survive this close encounter and it is of much interest to planetary scientist as to the final outcome of this Jovian rendezvous.  The above images were taken February 15th 2002 from Houston, Texas with a C14 and a ST5C CCD at f/27.

South Tropical Belt (STB) Grows. In early November the STB began to emerge from the preceding edge of the great red spot (GRS) and extended to a brown oval at the same latitude( click here for a Nov. 18th image showing the STB extending from the GRS to the brown oval). The STB growth became arrested in November and its growth remained static until late December. In late December the STB began growing again and has elongated well past the brown oval and can be seen faintly all the way around the globe in the above images. The shadow in the above images is from Io. Io is directly adjacent to and just to left of the shadow. Note that the polar regions of Io show as dark red in the above images. Images taken with a C14 and a ST6 CCD from Houston Texas 01-04-2002 UT.

North and South Equatorial Belt Disturbances. The North and South Equatorial belts on Jupiter are currently undergoing a period of high activity with many complex features. Images taken 12-19-2001 and 12-21-2001 with a C14 and a ST6 CCD from Houston, Texas.

Saturn's Crepe Ring. The Crepe ring is the inner most ring seen in this image. It is very tenuous and is semi transparent. The globe of Saturn can be seen through the rings in this image and it gives a dusky quality to the globe. The Crepe ring was first discovered in 1839 by J.Galle with a 9 inch refractor. The Crepe ring seems to vary somewhat in contrast but should be visible under good conditions with an 8 inch scope. This image was taken under exceptionally good seeing conditions from Houston Texas November 19 2001 with a ST6 CCD and a C14.

Jupiter's Blue Festoons. In recent weeks, Jupiter's atmosphere has become more active and the blue festoons have returned to the equatorial zone. The festoons can change their shape rapidly and in these image seemed to be anchored to the NEB which has also been very active in the last few weeks. It is not known if the increased activity of the NEB is related to the festoons becoming more prominent. Images taken on 11-18-01 and 11-25-01 from Houston Texas with a ST6 CCD and a C14.

Emergence of South Tropical belt. In early November the STB began to emerge from the preceding edge of the great red spot ( which can just be seen coming around in the upper right of this image) and now extends to a brown oval at the same latitude. Last year a similar brown oval ended when it merged with the GRS hollow. The extension of the STB from the red spot happens about once a year. Also note Io's orange appearance in this image. Image taken form Houston Texas with a ST6 CCD and a C14 on November 18th 2001.

North Equatorial Belt Barges B2 and B3 Collide. Jupiter's features are constantly changing and moving with respect to one another. Dark streaks seen in the belts are called barges. The barges B2 and B3 seen in the NEB( the bottom main belt on the right side) were about 15 degrees apart as seen in an image (click here) taken taken 10-02-2001. In the left two images above taken on 11-07-01 the barges have collided and are in the process of merging into one feature. In the right image taken on 11-19-01, it can be seen that the barges have merged. Images taken form Houston Texas with a ST6 CCD and a C14.

Abell Galaxy Cluster 426. This galaxy Cluster is located at about RA 3hrs 20min and Declination +41.5. Located in the constellation Perseus, this cluster will be a challenge to observe in amateur sizes scopes. A dark sky and a 12-16 inch scope will reveal most of the galaxies in this cluster. The labeled galaxies range in brightness from about magnitude 13 to magnitude 16. Image taken with a 8 inch f/4 newt. with a ST237 CCD on 11-03-2001 from Houston Texas. L= 40 min., R=G=B= 15 min.

Jupiter Satellite Eclipses and Transits. Jupiter's moons frequently pass in front of and behind Jupiter as seen from Earth. These events are interesting to observe and can be viewed with a 90mm or larger scope. In this image the moon Io is in transit across Jupiter and it's shadow can be seen on the south equatorial belt. At the same time Jupiter's moon Ganymede was just disappearing behind Jupiter and is seen partially eclipsed on the lower left portion of the globe.

Saturn's Enke Division and B Ring Intensity Minima. Saturn's rings are composed of many sets of rings. Most are aware of the main three( rings A, B & C ) but the ring system has much structure besides the main three. In this image, many intensity minima can be seen as faint low contrast "divisions" in the B ring ( the wide ring). In the A ring ( outermost ring ), Saturn's Enke division can be seen as a fine line about 2/3rds on the way out at the rings ansa. The Enke division is a real challenge to see visually in any size scope and takes fine optics, keen observing skills and a very steady atmosphere to detect . Image taken from Houston Texas with a C14 and a ST6 CCD @ f/68 on 10-18-01.

Elliptical Galaxy M32 in Andromeda. This small galaxy is one of four companions to the great galaxy M31 in Andromeda. This galaxy is about 2400 light years across and about 3 arc minutes in apparent size. It is 9th magnitude and should be visible in a four inch scope from a dark location. This image was taken from Houston, Texas with an 8 inch f/4 Newtonian and a ST237 CCD on 10/16/01. L=20 minutes, R=G=B=10 minutes.

The planet Jupiter. The planet Jupiter is one of the most interesting objects of the solar system to observe. In this image, the shadow of the moon IO can be seen as a dark spot near the great red spot. Io can be seen as a white dot in the upper of the two major cloud belts (South Equatorial Belt) on the right hand side. These shadow/satellite transits happen quite often and can easily be observed with a 3 inch telescope. The two major cloud belts can be seen in a 60mm scope and smaller belts become visible in a 6 in. scope under good seeing conditions. In this image several blue festoons can be seen between the two major cloud belts. This image was taken on 10-02-01 at 10:58 UT with a ST6 and a C14 at f/66 using a 10mm plossel eyepiece for projection. L = 8 x .3 seconds, R = G = B = 2 x .6 seconds.

The Double Cluster in Perseus. NGC869 ( left ) and NGC884 ( right ) make up this famous pair of of open clusters called the "The Double Cluster". A beautiful site even in a small telescope, each cluster is about 35 arc minutes in size and are separated by about one degree. The double cluster is visible to the eye under a dark sky and is about 7000 light years from Earth. There are many spectral class A and B stars ( blue ) and also some spectral class M red giants in these clusters. These images were taken with an 8 inch f/4 newt and a ST237 CCD from Houston Texas on 9/27/01 and 9/29/01.

The Planet Uranus and it's Moons. A member of the gas giants, Uranus has a diameter of about 48,000 km but due to it's distance, it displays a disk of only 4 arc seconds. Uranus is about 2.8 million km from the sun and it takes 84 years for it to make one trip around the sun. The four moons in this image range in brightness from magnitude 14.0 to 15.3 making them quite a challenge for for amateur astronomers to observe visually. This image of Uranus was made with a ST6 and a C14 @ f/60. Taken from Houston Texas 8/22/01 at 6:49 UT.

More dust on Mars. The dust from the recent storms has spread to cover nearly the entire globe of Mars. From this image one can see that new dust storms are forming. It is not likely that the dust will settle from the atmosphere anytime soon as the atmospheric dust is being replenished from the new storms. In this image the latest dust storm can be see in the left portion of the image as a brighter area. Image taken 7-31-01 from Houston, Texas with a C14 and a ST6 CCD.

L/RGB image of galaxy NGC7184 in Aquarius. Made from images taken by Al Kelly and Ed Grafton on 7/20/01 with an SBIG ST-9E and 32" f4 Newtonian from Danciger, Texas. Six 240-second sub-exposures in white (IR blocked only), two 240-second sub-exposures in red, three 240-second sub-exposures in green, and three 240-second sub exposures in blue were processed in AIP4WIN.

Mars Dust Storm. A global dust storm on Mars began in late June and by July 11th had spread to nearly the entire globe. In this sequence, the spread of the dust storm in the hemisphere facing the USA from July 5th through July 11th can be seen. In the left ( July 5th ) image the storm began near Solas Lacus. In the middle image (July 8th) the storm is seen to have spread across about one fourth of the hemisphere that is facing the USA. By July 11th ( right image ), the storm had spread across most of the remainder of the hemisphere making nearly all the albedo features very weak. Although dust storms are not unusual on Mars, this storm is one of the earliest and largest seen in many years. Images taken from Houston Texas with a C14 and a ST6 CCD.

Observing Mars. Seeing fine details on Mars is best done with color filters. The maria (dark albedo features) are best observed using a red or orange filter that will enhance contrast of the maria, canals and oasis features. Clouds, ice fogs, limb haze and the polar hoods will best be observed using a blue filter. The polar hood on the top of these images (south polar cap) are composed of ice and carbon dioxide crystals. These images of Mars were taken (from left to right) on 5/14/01 9:22 UT, 05/19/01 8:32 UT , 5/29/01 6:57 06/03/01 7:28 UT and 6/11/01 7:03 UT, 6/20/01 at 6:10 UT, from Houston Texas with a C14 @ f/60 using a ST6 CCD.

The Double star Gamma in the constellation Lepus. This wide double star has contrasting colors and is separated by 95 arc seconds. It is about 29 light years from Earth. The primary star is magnitude 6 and its companion is magnitude 3.5. Color descriptions of this pair vary considerably and in this image they appear blue and orange. This image was taken with a C14 and a ST237 CCD on 3/09/01 from Houston Texas. Exposure times were R=G=B=.02 seconds.

Planetary Drawings. Recording planetary detail is not limited to film and CCD images. The planetary drawing is a time honored way of recording details and is the basis of of much amateur planetary research. Carlos E. Hernandez made this drawing of Jupiter showing much detail using a 8 inch SCT at 231x and Wratten 23A (light red) and 64( blue-green) filters. His observation was made from Florida, USA 11/28/00 at 5:30 UT.

Planetary Nebula M27 in the Constellation Vulpecula. The "Dumbbell" nebula is about 8x5 arc-minutes in size and is magnitude 8 as seen from earth. It was discovered by Messier in 1764. The Dumbbell nebula is about 48,000 years old and is expanding at a rate of 17 miles per second. This image is a LRGB taken with a C14 and an ST237 CCD @ f/3.6 from Houston, Texas on 8/6/00. Exposure times are L=R=G=B=8 minutes.

M22 in the Constellation Sagittarius. M22 was discovered in 1665 by the German astronomer Johann Abraham Ihle . The cluster can be resolved into hundreds of stars with an 8 inch scope, but it's actual star count is probably in the hundreds of thousands. M22 has a diameter of about 15 arc minutes and its central condensation is about 7 arc minutes. At magnitude 6.5, it may just be visible to the eye under excellent skies. This image of M22 was taken on 8/5/00 from Houston Texas with a C14 and a ST237 CCD @ f/3.6. The image is an LRGB with the L constructed form the RGB images. Exposures were R=G=B=7 minutes.

M57 in the Constellation Lyra. the "Ring Nebula" is the best know example of a planetary nebula. It was discovered in 1779 by the French astronomer Toulouse. M57 is illuminated by the blue dwarf star at its center. Its radiation causes a bright fluorescence in the rarefied gases of the nebula. M57 is expanding at a rate of 12 miles a second and at that rate it took 20,000 years to reach its present size, from its initial expansion. This LRGB image of M57 was taken with a C14 @ f/5 and a ST237 CCD from Houston, Texas on 8/4/00. The exposures were L=R=G=B= 7 minutes.

Globular Cluster M13 is in the Constellation Hercules. M13 is the finest globular in the northern sky. It was first mentioned by Halley in 1715. M13 has a total luminosity of 300,000 suns and has an apparent magnitude of 6, making it just visible to the eye under dark skies. M13 begins to resolve with a 5 inch scope and with a 10 inch or larger scope, it is a spectacular object to observe. The red giants in the image have a luminosity of about 2000 suns. M13 is about 21,000 light years from Earth and has a diameter of 160 light years. This image is a LRGB with the L image constructed form the R&G image. The exposure time is R=G=B=10 minutes. This image was taken with a C14 and a ST237 CCD @ f/3.6 on 6/24/00 from Houston, Texas.

Globular Cluster M5 in the Constellation Serpens. The star populations WRT brightness and color in a globular cluster can be represented with a HR (Hertzsprung Russell) diagram and M5 represents a typical globular cluster. This HR diagram shows the typical "demographics" of a globular cluster's star type distribution, and this distribution is referred to as population II stars. As you can see from the image and the HR diagram, the population II star distributions consist of red giants ,blue ,white, and yellow stars. The blue stars on the horizontal branch are referred to as RR Lyrae stars and consist of white and blue giants and are spectral class A through F. These stars oscillate in both absolute magnitude and spectral class. This image of M5 is an LRGB and was taken from Houston Texas on 4/28/00 with a C14 @ f/3.8 and a ST237 CCD. The exposure times were R=G=B=7 minutes. The L channel was derived from the green and red exposures.

The Globular Cluster Omega Centaurus. The finest example of a globular cluster in the sky. This globular is visible to the naked eye but you will need a southerly location to view it. Located at a declination of -47 degrees, it barely peeks above the trees in south Texas, Florida and the desert southwest regions of the USA. This globular is about 150 light years across and is at a distance of about 20,000 light years. The star density is estimated to be about 25,000 time greater than the star density in the neighborhood of our star the sun. This image is an RGB taken with a 120mm refractor at f/4 with a ST237 CCD. Taken from Danciger Texas on 4/8/00. R=G=B=100 seconds.

More Images Of Our Universe

More Images of Our Milky Way

More Images of the Solar System


Images on Earth

The C14 Observatory

The Danciger 32 Inch Observatory

The Climatic Environment and Weather at the Observatories

Where in the World are the C14 and Danciger Observatories

Techniques and Tips for CCD Imaging

Learn more about imaging galaxies from a city site.

Techniques on how the ST6 images on this page were made


Visit These Amateur Sites

Visit Al Kelly's Astrophotography page for images with a 32 inch and a CB245....Wow!

Find out what's new with the Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society.

Kunihiko Okano's CCD Gallery Home Page

Richard Berry's Cookbook Camera Home Page

Stefan Seip's Astronomical Website