LtE in CMO #272

From Frank J MELILLO

@ . . . . . . . . . . Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 23:03:41 EDT

From: Subject: Webcams


Dear all planetary observers-, I would like to congratulate Damian Peach of the Canary Islands, Eric Ng of Hong Kong and Tan Wei Leong of Singapore for their excellence work on planetary imaging using the webcams. The Sky & Telescope of upcoming June 2003 issue is featuring an outstanding article on 'Shooting the Planets with Webcams' pg. 117 - 122 by Michael Davis and David Staup. Certainly, three of them have been mentioned for their planetary work.

 Especially in 2002, there has been an explosion of web- cams users. Of course, we have recognized Damian, Eric and Tan of their incredible work here in this group. I believe they are pioneering their work for advanced techniques in webcams. They have found a new way of capturing the planets that we have never seen them before.

  Being as a Mercury coordinator for ALPO, I have seen it too on Mercury. Especially one person Erwin V. D. Valden of Australia did an outstanding job imaging Mercury with the webcam. His excellent images are posted at:


Using the webcams, there are possibilities of discovering new features on Mercury. Especially one feature which is a crater once that was imaged by Mariner 10. Erwin had captured a possible Crater Kuiper as a white blotch nearly to its location. Of course, it is not confirmed yet. But another apparition of Mercury coming up could identify its true nature of this 'white blotch' as a suspect of the Kuiper crater. Hopefully, the webcam users out there can take advantages of imaging Mercury while the entire surface is still not explore yet and perhaps you can fill in the gap!

 Today, you can appreciate the high-resolution and perfomances of the webcams and we can all see it here. I am hoping to see more about using the webcams in the  2003 ALPO convention coming up. Once again I am congratulating you guys and for those who are willing to use the webcams in the future to keep up with this exciting planetary imaging we all enjoy!


◆・・・・・・Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 09:31:53 -0700

From: Tim Parker <>


Subject: Re: Webcams


Frank: Like I said to Kelly Beatty last month, I think it's the webcams that are going to steal the show with planetary imaging.  Not video cameras, not digital still cameras, and certainly not expensive cooled astronomical ccd cameras.

 I sent this to Dave Moore this morning about my tests with an IBM PC Camera Pro that I had bought a couple of years ago (new for $30).  I include it here for possible feedback from others, as I would like to know about other webcam possibilities, particularly in the US, since the Philips is so hard to get here:

  Dave: I decided to try out my IBM PC Pro webcam over the weekend. Turns out, it must have the Sony ccd similar to the Toucam in it. I noted it was more sensitive than the 3com, but didn't realize what the exposures must have been until I opened a 1 minute .avi and saw that it was 600 frames!  Now I also know why it crashes my computer so much. I've got a 400Mhz AMD with only 64 megs of ram, but with an 80GB HD.  It also crashes a lot when I try to process one of these videos with Registax, which takes a half hour or 45 minutes anyway, when it works!

 The IBM camera software is very limited. You can set the contrast and brightness, sharpness, and either "normal, backlight, or night" modes, but you have no control over the exposure time. I had to use the backlight mode and turn the contrast and brightness all the way down. Jupiter is about 200 pixels pole to pole on my screen at the prime focus of my 12.5" f/23 Cass, and I'm still close to saturation. I have yet to figure out what processing options work best in registax.

 I seem to have some good raw video potential, but I have no idea how you guys get the detail and color balances you get with the Toucam and registax.  Any tips??



◆・・・・・・Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 23:51:21 +0100

From: "Damian Peach" 

To: <>,

Subject: Re: Webcams

Hi Frank, Thank you for your kind comments. I have been very pleased personally at what the webcam is capable of producing. I also believe that the webcam has allowed images of the highest resolution to obtained on a more regular basis then ever before.

 I certainly expect to see some ground breaking Mars images come opposition from webcams (Maurice Valimberti has produced fine images already from Austrailia using a webcam.) Come August we should all be in for a real treat :)

Good luck to everyone.  Best Wishes

                     Damian PEACH


@ . . . . . . . . . .Date: Thu, 01 May 2003 13:33:01 -0400

From:  Subject: Re: Mars - May 01, 2003


Dear Dave-,  Great shot! I guess I should start imaging Mars too. But I'm just a little lazy to get up in the morning before sunrise!

   I have a same problem too with different monitors. Sometimes by looking at the planetary images, they look different especially my office monitor and the one at home. I guess each one of them have different level of brightness and contrast. But which one telling the truth? Both monitors are top brands!


◆・・・・・・Date: Thu, 01 May 2003 22:18:42 +0000

From: Donald Parker 


Subject: Re: Mars - May 01, 2003


Hi Frank, If you have Photoshop, go into the Control Panel and you will see an icon called "Adobe Gamma." This is a great little program that takes you through steps to calibrate your monitor. I believe even old versions of Photoshop have this -- check it out. I just found out about it, and it

makes a big difference.  Best,

           Don PARKER


@ . . . . . . . . . .Here are my first two Mars images on May 18, 2003 to be posted on the websites.

  (19 May 2003 email)


(Holtville, NY, USA)

ALPO Mercury Coordinator

Back to the LtE Home Page

Jump to the LtE Archives


To the CMO Home Page