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Neptune at 7820mm (2018Aug02)

Neptune on 2018Aug02 Neptune on 2018Aug02 © Frederick Steiling
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Target Information
Main Target Designation(s) Neptune
All Exposures
Date(s) of acquisition 2018Aug02 at 07:29UT
Location Defiance, MO
Capture resolution 352x340
Target Altitude 27.0°
Red Exposures
Total capture 1002 x 563ms of 566" video at 75% gain
Stack source 20% of 566" video at 1.8 fps (avg)
Green Exposures
Total capture 1014 x 450ms at 75% gain
Stack source 20% of 458" video at 2.2 fps (avg)
Blue Exposures
Total capture 1033 x 350ms at 75% gain
Stack source 20% of 361" video at 2.8 fps (avg)
Imager ZWO ASI174MM
Filters ZWO 1.25" RGB
Telescope/Lens Celestron C14 XLT SCT
Magnifiers Tele Vue 2x Powermate
Effective Focal Length 7820mm (f/22)
Mount Celestron CGE Pro
Focuser Moonlite 2.5" CSL
Acquisition FireCapture 2.5
Guiding None
Processing AutoStakkert 3, PixInsight 1.8, Photoshop CC

Neptune: 4,355,464,393 km (2,706,360,103 mi) away from us on August 2, 2018, the morning on which I attempted to image it.  Could it possibly turn out to look like anything but a star through my planetary rig?  The answer: yes!

As the saying goes, "it's not much, but it's mine!"  Coming in at a paltry 2.3 arcseconds, it's only about 13% the size of Saturn in our sky right now, and at a visual magnitude of 7.8 (and unlike Saturn), you have no chance of seeing it with your naked eye.  With my imaging rig used here, the disc (in perfect focus and conditions) would span only 15 pixels.  There's not anything that makes photographing this planet easy, nor should one ever expect (under reasonable circumstances) to get any sort of detail.  So, the fact that I got a spheroid-looking object is a total success in my book!

As far as tough-to-photograph planets go (Neptune, Uranus, Mercury), Neptune may be the neatest.  Not only is it staggeringly far away, the blue color caused by the red/green light absorption by the Methane composition in the clouds is simply beautiful -- even on the tiny sphere I captured!  I'm glad to add this one to my growing solar system image collection.  Now I just need good images of Mercury, Venus, and Uranus to complete it!

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