Saturday, 8 October 2011

My favourite Jupiter picture to date

Further Update: This is what it looks like before you do the magic:

UPDATE: A bit more tweaking

The earlier version of the same file image:

I've been out in the back garden recently getting some images of the planet Jupiter - that shiny thing in the eastern skies around 9pm. Last night I was out a bit later so it had got above the heat haze from the neighbour's roof. That's one reason, I think, why this is the best picture to date (if you look back to numbers 1 and 2 you'll see what I mean.)

It really is quite remarkable what a rank amateur can do these days, thanks to computer technology. Mind you, on the last 'Sky at Night' programme there was a chap whose terrestrial pictures taken from Barbados showed detail on Jupiter's moons. You can't even see them in my shot above.

For those who are interested, the pictures are taken using £50 webcam to produce about 3 minutes of video. The rest is down to an ingenious free-online programme called Registax and a copy of Photoshop Elements (also free, as it happens, when I got it).

As a PS, the first pictures were taken a week ago in shirt-sleeves. Last night it was flipping cold!

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  1. My goodness, that is absolutely awesome.

  2. Stuart, I have to agree - not least because it's all down to software. You put in these blurry yellow pictures and out comes the above! It really is astonishing.

  3. Take a look at the 'before' picture above, Stuart, and you'll see why I really do find it amazing!

  4. The difference is remarkable. Technology really is jaw dropping.

  5. More jaw-dropping is what you read if you click on 'Stuart' above.
    However, all of this image reconstruction seems to me rather more art than science. How and/or why does a muddy green colour get translated to a bright clear blue? Magic, obviously. More sci-fientific than scientific, that.

  6. One of the answers to your question, Richard, is that it sorts out the colour balance by 'equalizing' the histograms of red, blue and green to get rid of a colour bias (in this case to yellow).

    Secondly, it selects the sharpest images, discarding the really blurred ones, so it is not just 'fakery'.

    Thirdly, the software works on things like the moon's craters, where we can see with the naked eye what a picture 'ought' to look like.

    Finally, though, there is a subjective element. As a book I have on astrophotography says, at the end this is partly about putting together a pleasing image, and that is a matter of taste and judgement.

  7. John,
    The obvious question here is - how do they know there is a yellow bias? Because something appears green, perhaps it is, or perhaps it is being viewed through dust and gas clouds which filter out the red and blue. Hubble telescope images suggest that Jupiter is rather more grey than blue when viewed without the benefit of earth's atmosphere.