by Larry Owens

Jupiter 09/02/11 @08:40UT

3 September, 2011 (20:35) | Uncategorized | By: ltowens

Hello, not the greatest of conditions for this shot of Jupiter, but some detail made it through.  Clicking the image will present the monochrome component images.  Dark skies, Larry – Update 09/05 – actually spent a bit more time in processing this image, sharpening it up a bit and below is the result.  Dark skies, Larry


Jupiter 08/25/11 @ 09:16 UT

25 August, 2011 (18:52) | Uncategorized | By: ltowens

Here’s another shot of Jupiter from this morning.  The stability started out nicely, but conditions deteriorated rapidly after the first image.  Dark skies, Larry.


Jupiter 08/20/11

20 August, 2011 (14:07) | Uncategorized | By: ltowens

I was able to image this morning for the first time in nearly a year.  This is a shot of Jupiter with the 16″, under average seeing conditions.


Testing a 16″ Scope

8 April, 2010 (21:39) | Images, Uncategorized | By: ltowens

Hello everyone,

I’ve been busy finishing the construction of a 16″ scope for the CE chapter of the AAC (Atlanta Astronomy Club).  It’s probably not what you think.  This one is a 16″ Newtonian on a large “Tom Dobbins” German Equatorial mount.  That’s pretty unique today when most large aperture Newtonians are Dobs (Dobsonian).


The design and construction of the scope is a long story, so for that just check out the CE website under “Projects”, then “Truss Tube” and there are other links under “Byers”.

The mirror we used on this scope was refigured and recoated by Galaxy optics not long ago, and turned out to be one of the best optics I’ve ever used, making this scope one terrific high power planetary imaging system.

Here’s a shot of the crater Archimedes and this is actually the first image taken with the big scope (below).


The smallest craters you see in this image are about 1000 feet across, possibly less and that’s incredible resolution, considering that the moon is nearly 240 thousand miles away and 2100 miles in diameter.

This next image is the second shot taken with the scope and it’s of the planet Mars (below).  Now you may think it’s not that great compared to some of the spectacular shots taken of the red planet from Earth, but Mars in this shot was nearly 100 million miles away, and only 9 arc seconds across so it’s actually a pretty good shot.


Here’s shot number 3 taken with the scope, and this is Saturn of course (below).  I had to work the next day so I had to take this image in less than ideal conditions.  The planet was just 41 degrees above the horizon and the atmosphere was fairly turbulent.


These images in all are very promising for this scope and with the increased resolution and light gathering power over the C14 I’ve been using, you should expect to see some amazing images of the planets in the months to come.

Dark skies,

Mars, 02/01/10 @ 04:01UT

7 February, 2010 (02:24) | Uncategorized | By: ltowens

Hello everyone,

I was able to get a relatively good image of Mars, the morning of Feburary 1st.  It shows some interesting north polar detail, including dust.  I took a total of 4 sets that morning, but haven’t had the chance to process them.  The seeing conditions (stability) were rather good for a change.


Dark skies,


Mars Jan 14th @ 04:53UT

17 January, 2010 (10:58) | Uncategorized | By: ltowens

The opposition is approaching as you can see in this nearly “full” phased Mars image.  The seeing from Alpharetta was relatively good for a change onthe evening of the 13/14th.  This shot was taken with the red planet at about 50 degrees elevation, using the C14.


Dark skies,


Mars Image, Dec 23, 2009

24 December, 2009 (14:25) | Uncategorized | By: ltowens

I was able to do some imaging on the 23rd and the result is below.  It isn’t a particularly interesting image due to the conditions but at least I was able to get a shot of the red planet.  I also haven’t had a chance to check the collimation of my scope lately, so that may have contributed to the lack of detail.

The sky was filled with waves of high thin clouds, and a large bank of clouds approaching from the SW, but there was enough time to catch the red planet just above 40 degrees in elevation.   I did have to limit the number of frames captured because of the approaching clouds.

As usual the image was taken with a DMK21AF04, and Custom Scientific RGB filters, attached to the C14.


Dark skies,

Mars is Approaching

29 November, 2009 (13:50) | Mars | By: ltowens

Hello everyone.  The planet Mars is fast approaching for an opposition this January, so it’s time to sharpen your imaging skills.  Although this will not be the best opposition we’ve had recently, at 14.1″ in apparent size on January 27th the planet will be large enough for amateurs to capture a lot of detail.  Here are some key dates for the event (courtesy SEDS):

Key Dates for Mars this Opposition

Dec 1, 2009
Mars leaves constellation Cancer and enters Leo.
Dec 3, 2009
Apparent diameter of Mars exceeds 10″.
Dec 21, 2009
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -0.5 mag.
Dec 22, 2009
Mars becomes stationary and then starts its retograde opposition loop, as Earth passes between the Red Planet and the Sun.
Jan 1, 2010
Mars shines at mag -0.77 in constellation Leo with an apparent diameter of 12.67″. Distance from Earth is 0.73885 AU (111 million km).
Jan 9, 2010
Mars leaves constellation Leo and enters Cancer again, during retograde opposition loop.
Jan 11, 2010
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -1.0 mag.
Jan 27, 2010
Closest approach of Mars and Earth (0.664 AU = 99.33 million km). Apparent diameter of Mars is 14.105″.
Jan 29, 2010
Mars opposition on Earth, Earth in inferior conjunction on Mars. Apparent brightness of Mars reaches -1.28 mag in constellation Cancer.
Feb 14, 2010
Mars’ apparent brightness becomes fainter than -1.0 mag.
Feb 21, 2010
Mars at its greatest northern heliocentric ecliptic latitude (+1.8489 deg).
Mar 5, 2010
Mars’ apparent brightness becomes fainter than -0.5 mag.
Mar 11, 2010
Mars becomes stationary to end its retograde opposition loop as the Earth has passed it on its inner orbit, and proceeds in prograde apparent motion.
Mar 22, 2010
Apparent diameter of Mars decreases below 10″.
Mar 25, 2010
Mars’ apparent brightness becomes fainter than 0.0 mag.
Mar 30, 2010
Mars moves beyond 1.0 AU distance.
Mar 31, 2010
Mars in Aphelion (1.66594 AU, 249.2 million km).


Although I haven’t been able to image recently, here are some images from August and September (by the way, this first image will appear in the February issue of Sky and Telescope magazine):



Dark skies, and get out there and image!

Larry Owens

Imaging the planets is rewardi…

29 November, 2009 (12:02) | Twitter | By: ltowens

Imaging the planets is rewarding and contributes to science. Learn how!

A Busy Year

11 October, 2009 (14:41) | Uncategorized | By: ltowens

This has certainly been a busy year for astronomy.  Earth passed through Saturn’s ring plane which presented a rare view of the planet, nearly without its magnificent ring system.  Jupiter received a rather large impact, discovered by fellow amateur astronomer Anthony Westly which inspired all of us to renew our efforts to observe and image the great planet.  Now our old friend Mars is returning for an opposition early in 2010.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve been very busy with work and family and just haven’t had the time to image the planets to the extent of previous years.  I did manage however to image Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, and hope to spend more time imaging as Mars approaches.

Of course I wanted to capture the great Jupiter impact event of 2009.  Here’s a shot taken July 24th,  which was several days after the impact event (July 19th).  My site is not optimum for Jupiter at this low altitude, so the stability from heat rising from my neighbor’s roof usually softens images quite a bit.




Here’s another shot of the impact (below), taken a couple of days later, and you can see that the impact seemed to elongate somewhat.  The impact was actually visible for several weeks.



Below is the most recent shot of Mars.  The planet was still a tiny target, at just under 6″ of arc in this image.  Currently Mars is much larger at 7″ of arc as Earth catches up to the red planet.  It also rises to nearly 70 degrees high just before sunrise now which, coupled with the larger size should present much more detail.  We’ve had terrible weather lately but I’m hoping to image the planet again very soon.



For the latest images, please take a look at my gallery.

Dark skies, Larry