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How to Photograph Jupiter

how to photograph jupiter

Capturing Jupiter's vibrant bands, massive Red Spot, and its four bright moons is an exciting process when done with the proper equipment and steps.

Jupiter is a great start into planetary imaging because it is our Solar System's largest planet and the brightest to see from Earth. Planetary imaging is a rewarding process that may lead you to many more astronomy experiences.

Follow this step-by-step guide on How To Image Jupiter and you will be well on your way to becoming an expert!

WHEN SHOULD I IMAGE JUPITER?

An important factor to consider when shooting Jupiter is its location in the sky. When it has just come up over the horizon, you will be observing it through a lot more of Earth's atmosphere than if it were up higher in the sky.

Pro Tip: Don't try to image Jupiter just after it has cleared the horizon, as it will result in blurry images. Being able to image through as little of the atmosphere as possible and on good stable days will greatly improve the quality of the videos, which in turn will lead to better images (see below for comparison).

how to photograph jupiter - 1how to photograph jupiter - 2

The image on the left shows Jupiter after it has just cleared the horizon. The image on the right shows Jupiter when it has reached at least a 45-degree angle in the sky. 

WHAT EQUIPMENT DO I NEED TO PHOTOGRAPH JUPITER?

There are so many options to successfully capture Jupiter. We've compiled a list for your success. Read on to learn more!

WHAT MOUNT DO I NEED?  

Ideally, a German Equatorial Mount should be used so that Jupiter remains centered during the exposure, however, you could still effectively use an Alt-Azimuth Mount with tracking abilities.

WHAT CAMERA AND TELESCOPE DO I NEED? 

The first thing you will need to photograph Jupiter effectively is a telescope with a relatively long focal length. The longer the focal length, the greater the magnification, resulting in a larger image on the camera's sensor.

Secondly, a good CCD Camera or CMOS Camera is crucial for high-resolution planetary imaging.

In order to achieve the best results for your images, you will need to ensure that your equipment is working in sync.The following formula is a great guide to follow when pairing a telescope and planetary camera for imaging:

The optimal focal ratio of your telescope = 5 x Camera's Pixel Size (in microns)

For example: If your camera’s pixel size is 3 microns then you should try for 5 x 3 or f/15. 

Pro Tip: Using the right camera is a crucial factor in producing a good image of Jupiter and you want to ensure that it is comprised of all the important properties needed for good images. CCD and CMOS Cameras offer high frame rates with no compression, and using the fastest frame rate possible will effectively yield desirable results.

HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH JUPITER?

  • By connecting your camera to a laptop, your target will display on the laptop, and you can use a special image-acquisition software on the laptop to shoot videos of your target.
  • Once you've set up your scope, connected the camera, and pointed at Jupiter you will now want to ensure that your focus is as accurate as possible. In order to avoid poor focus and the frustration of a blurry image, we recommend a dual-speed focuser.
  • Now that you've gotten through the rather more frustrating part, it's time to start shooting some video. Video is ideal to capture a lot of detail and offers hundreds of frames per second, which you can then stack in a stacking program during post-processing. This method will produce a nicely detailed composite of your video frames and can be further edited in your preferred image-editing program.

Learn more about astrophotography setups and click here to see our guide! Clear skies!


4 Responses

Kamal

August 01, 2020

What about using the Zwo ASI 174 for planets imaging & would it be better than the zwo asi full frame color 094 or the 1600 mono ? which filters will be used i see Chroma is having a 2 size Methan filters & are the better than the Baader 685 ?
What about using the hyperstar with fiterslider F2 to do planets photography ?

Lance Williams

July 12, 2020

John, this would apply to planetary only. For planets, the faster the camera, best with USB3, and the smaller the pixel size, then the more frames, and more detail that can be brought out with post processing. For DSO,s the larger the pixel, is better.

OPT

July 10, 2020

Hi John, the suggestions can be applied to both because they are meant to be applied to your equipment. For example, if the camera sensor isn’t fully compatible with the lens, then you will get square-shaped looking stars. We’re happy to help you set up your equipment for what you’re looking to image. Please contact us if you have any other questions.

John Daines

June 27, 2020

Is this suggestion for having your pixel size being one fifth of the focal ratio specific to planetary imaging only? Or also deep sky imaging?

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