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Planetary Imaging (Mars)  

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Some things I've learned since embarking on planetary imaging with the opposition of Mars this past October.

I am using an 11" Celestron EDGE HD SCT for imaging.   I am also using a 2X powermate putting the scope at F20 and 5600mm focal length.

First thing you need to do is polar align, align your finder scope (really well), and align coordinates to mount because Mars is small and if you want to find Mars in the small camera frame you need good alignment.  

The best free capture software I've tried is called FireCapture.  It's free and works with most major camera.   I am using a ASI224MC with 3.75um pixels.

For Mars I'm using a fairly fast exposure of 2.5ms at 230 frames/sec.   I exposed for approximately 80% histogram, but I've found some areas are overexposed.  I think it should be in the 60-70% range.   I am capturing 4 minute videos on Mars.

I've captured at both 16bits and 8 bits.  16bit files are enormous   I'm going to be going with 8 bits until I determine it's not sufficient.   Chris Go uses 8bit files exclusively, which should be good enough for me.

Debayer should be turned off for capture.  Debayer, while capturing, will result in 3X image sizes.

Gamma should be turned off while capturing.   Gamma will effect imaging capture contrast to no value other than ending up with overly contrasty images.

I believe I should be using a UV-cut filter with a color camera.   Next imaging session I will be using a UV-CUT

I should be using an atmospheric dispersion corrector, I have the ZWO version.    

Will update as I refine my process.