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Webcam Imaging of Mercury's Rotation, Amateur images of Mercury
jsheff
post Nov 26 2007, 01:56 AM
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Hi, all,

A fellow amateur astronomer in the Boston area, John Boudreau, has been getting some neat images of Mercury, including some that show longitudes not mapped by Mariner 10. He's put together a few of them into a movie that shows Mercury's rotation and changing phase.

Before you go to check out the link, I'd like to remind you that this was all done using a backyard telescope and an inexpensive webcam - equipment readily affordable to hobbyists, using image stacking techniques that were pioneered by amateur astronomers, and that are now being refined by people like John. And perhaps most remarkably, his imaging was done from sites in the densely-populated suburb of Saugus, Mass. - not exactly an area known for dark skies and good seeing!

http://home.comcast.net/~jeboud/mercury.htm

- John Sheff
Cambridge, MA
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nprev
post Nov 26 2007, 02:17 AM
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Hey, that's really amazing; thanks for posting! smile.gif

Fantastic, really; backyard amateurs can now achieve better results in planetary observations than the pros could in the 60s & 70s. Your bud is very talented, though, John; takes a lot of time & patience to make a sequence like that for a hard target like Mercury.

Actually, I've never seen a movie like that of Mercury before; since you guys are in Cambridge, strongly suggest contacting Sky & Telescope! smile.gif .


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tasp
post Nov 26 2007, 03:56 AM
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Like riding along with MESSENGER and looking back at Mercury after the first flyby coming up soon.

Thanks, really whets the appetite for the upcoming show in January.

I think upcoming missions frequently inspire excellent work from the (not so) amatuer community.
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tedstryk
post Nov 26 2007, 07:48 AM
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I would suggest looking at some of the other planetary images on his site. The Mercury ones are good, but so are his shots of the other planets.


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JRehling
post Nov 26 2007, 08:32 AM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Nov 25 2007, 06:17 PM) *
Hey, that's really amazing; thanks for posting! smile.gif

Fantastic, really; backyard amateurs can now achieve better results in planetary observations than the pros could in the 60s & 70s. Your bud is very talented, though, John; takes a lot of time & patience to make a sequence like that for a hard target like Mercury.


Mark carefully the end of an era. Mercury represents the only terrain left that an amateur astronomer can hope to image and "scoop" spacecraft. Anything else that an amateur can resolve as a disk has already been mapped at much better resolution by the "ringers" (spacecraft).

When Messenger makes its second swing by Mercury next year, that will essentially be over.

Until then, strive on amateurs, and show what you can do (which is really very impressive)!
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nprev
post Nov 26 2007, 12:36 PM
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There are still a few challenges left; imaging the largest main-belt asteroids is one that comes to mind. Other than that & comet & asteroid discoveries, though, you're right; UMSF will supplant both professional and amateur Solar System observations.


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AndyG
post Nov 26 2007, 02:27 PM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Nov 26 2007, 12:36 PM) *
...imaging the largest main-belt asteroids is one that comes to mind.

Ceres, at best, is a tenth of the size of Mercury at maximum elongation - so judging from the Mercury images linked at the start of this thread, there might well be details visible for the big 'uns (especially given the more favorable viewing for asteroids at opposition) using similar equipment.

Andy
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ElkGroveDan
post Nov 26 2007, 03:17 PM
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QUOTE (tedstryk @ Nov 25 2007, 11:48 PM) *
I would suggest looking at some of the other planetary images on his site. The Mercury ones are good, but so are his shots of the other planets.

I agree. This guy has some amazing work up there. The detail in his these images is astounding. The Jupiter image is really something. Thanks John for posting this.


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tedstryk
post Nov 26 2007, 03:41 PM
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For worlds like Mercury, it is true that UMSF may soon fully supplant professional and amateur telescopic observers. However, for Venus, Mars, Jupiter/Io, Saturn,Titan, Uranus, and Neptune (and Triton photometry comes in here), monitoring temporal changes is extremely valuable. It will be a long time before we have spacecraft at these planets long enough to pin down all phenomenon that could be detected from earth. Also, with Uranus and Neptune, their long orbits mean that it will be a very, very long time before we have monitored them through all seasons. During the time when an orbiter is there, the need for groundbased data is reduced (although not eliminated without a network of orbiters, and even then it would be needed for a baseline of comparison with historical data). But orbiters only last so long. We may live to see the day that Mars and Venus have constant UMSF attention, but I don't think that will happen to all these planets.

Someday the need for telescopic observations may pass, but for active worlds, we are a long way from that day.


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jsheff
post Nov 29 2007, 09:41 PM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Nov 25 2007, 09:17 PM) *
... since you guys are in Cambridge, strongly suggest contacting Sky & Telescope! .

As a matter of fact, I see the story is on the home page of Sky & Tel's
website today: smile.gif

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/
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ElkGroveDan
post Nov 29 2007, 10:05 PM
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Congratulations to John! He certainly deserves the recognition!


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nprev
post Nov 30 2007, 07:21 AM
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My congrats as well!!! I'm absolutely astonished that these were captured while the Sun was up... blink.gif


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Rob Pinnegar
post Dec 9 2007, 07:10 PM
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Something interesting about the animated Webcam series of Mercury images is that (from what I can tell) they include the part of the planet that contains the hypothesized "Skinakas Basin" which is supposed to be an impact structure larger than Caloris.

According to a couple of Internet sources I've been looking at (including the Wikipedia entry --- hopefully it's accurate), this basin is supposed to be centred just north of the equator at about 280 degrees west. Assuming that the central meridians given for the webcam shots use the same longitude system, it should be in the "middle" of the planet in the second and third images.

There does seem to be something there, but it's hard to tell what it is. Possibly just wishful thinking, I suppose.

Rob
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J.J.
post Dec 10 2007, 10:43 PM
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Amazing work!

smile.gif


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ed_lomeli
post Jan 3 2008, 04:16 PM
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QUOTE (Rob Pinnegar @ Dec 9 2007, 11:10 AM) *
Something interesting about the animated Webcam series of Mercury images is that (from what I can tell) they include the part of the planet that contains the hypothesized "Skinakas Basin" which is supposed to be an impact structure larger than Caloris.

According to a couple of Internet sources I've been looking at (including the Wikipedia entry --- hopefully it's accurate), this basin is supposed to be centred just north of the equator at about 280 degrees west. Assuming that the central meridians given for the webcam shots use the same longitude system, it should be in the "middle" of the planet in the second and third images.

There does seem to be something there, but it's hard to tell what it is. Possibly just wishful thinking, I suppose.

Rob


I'd been looking for a reference for imaging; perhaps this first link on page 32 will illustrate it better.

http://www.alpo-astronomy.org/publications...0Highlights.pdf

http://www.alpo-astronomy.org/mercury/Ksanfomality.pdf
http://sirius.bu.edu/planetary/mercury/baumgardner2.html

Best, ed
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