Xanadu Observatory Solar System Photos


Solar System
Deep Space
Messier Objects
Observatory Visits
Star Parties


There are a huge number of things to image within our solar system.  In addition to the Sun and 9 planets, there are moons, asteroids, comets, meteors, and various phenomena like eclipses and aurora.

This page is intended to be a "family album" for pictures I have acquired of solar system objects.  Most of my solar system photos were taken with low-cost webcam imagers, such as the Phillips SC9000 webcam or the Meade LPI Lunar Planetary Imager.

Click on thumbnail for a larger version of the image.

Hydrogen Alpha Sun.

An overexposed image taken in turbulent skies with a Meade LPI through a Coronado PST.

Sun in White Light.

Taken through a white light filter with a Meade LPI and a Celestron C5+. No, the sun is not really blue!

Mercury Transits the Sun.

On November 8, 2006, I used a Phillips webcam to image a portion of this rare event. This sequence shows egress from approximately 2325 UTC to 2410 UTC.

Movie of the November 8, 2006 Mercury Transit.

Click the image to see a "movie" of Mercury transiting the solar disk.

Mercury Near Greatest Elongation.

Mercury was low on the horizon in the twilight on 2/23/06. Most of the telescope's aperture was blocked by the dome walls. This is a single 0.25 second image with a Meade LPI and barlow lens. Although the image is blurred, it is clear that the planet was only about half phase. The redness is primarily caused by the Earth's atmosphere.

Venus Near Greatest Elongation.

Venus was shining brightly on the morning of 2/18/06. Imagine what Galileo must have thought when he discovered that Venus is a crescent - evidence for a heliocentric rather than geocentric system!

Earth's Moon.

"Cold-hearted orb, rules the night"...poets have been influenced by the romantic moon since the beginning of time. This is a CCD image taken through narrowband filters with a 4" refractor.

Earth's Moon.

The craters Copernicus and Eratosthenes, along with a portion of the Apenninus Mountains are visible in this close-up lunar shot.

Comet 17P/Holmes Grows.

The comet dimmed a bit as it grew in size. It became visible to the naked eye at the end of October, and when this image was taken on 11/10/07, it was large enough to appear "fuzzy" to the eye.

Comet 17P/Holmes

This comet suddenly brightened by a factor of half a million - from mag 16 to mag 2 - in late October 2007. This image was taken on November 1st. The dust shell demonstrated rapid growth in the days following the brightening.

Comet Swan C/2006 M4.

A brilliant blue head and slight tail made this comet a special sight when I took this image on October 30, 2006. It was near the Western horizon at the time. Check my spectroscopy page for a spectral analysis.

Comet C/2006T1 Levy.

Famous comet discoverer David Levy added another visual discovery to his list on 10/2/06 from his Jarnac Observatory, which is about 15 miles away from Xanadu. This LRGB image shows it on the morning of 10/7/06 and covers a time frame of about 21 minutes. The full moon hindered the imaging process for this faint comet.

Comet 177P/Barnard.

This faint comet was in the middle of the Hercules keystone and only about 2 1/2 degrees from M13 when I took this image on August 5, 2006. It is a stack of 8 each CRGB 20 second exposures; the comet was moving fairly quickly.

Comet C/2006 A1 Pojmanski Graces the Morning Sky, March 6, 2006.

This bright comet was on its way away from the sun, back to the icy cold of the outer reaches of the solar system when this image was taken. The coma shines bright blue near the edges. The tail visible in this picture is only a fraction of the huge 3+ degree dust tail. Composite of 3 each 10-second images using Clear, Red, Green, and Blue color filters with an SBIG CCD camera.

Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachman Movie.

Click on Photo for Animation!

This animated gif demonstrates the fast relative motion of a comet against the background sky, which is often an important clue in the comet discovery process. The movie covers a period of only 36 minutes and 52 seconds. Comet 73P has actually broken up into at least 20 known fragments; I believe this fragment is named "C". The pictures were taken at about 11 p.m local time on April 8, 2006. This comet is a short-period traveller about the Sun and is expected to brighten significantly in the next couple of months.

Mars 2007.

This image was taken with a webcam 5 days before the 2007 Christmas Eve opposition. The 14" RCX with a 2x barlow was used.

Mars 2006.

This is a rather poor LPI image of Mars a short time after it reached opposition in 2006.

Asteroids 11 Parthenope & 16 Psyche.

Click on Photo for Animation!

On 2/2/06, they were ~ 2 arcminutes apart; on 2/3/06, they were only ~ 1.25 arcminutes apart. 5 second unguided images, simple darks and no flat fielding. Although the asteroids appeared to be very close, they were actually about 15 million miles apart.

Jupiter Near Opposition 2008.

This image was taken with a Phillips ToUCam webcam and the 14" RCX on July 1st, 2008, about 8 days before oppostion. The planet was low in the sky so air turbulence prevented getting a better quality image.

Saturn and Titan.

This image shows the ringed planet along with its largest moon, Titan. Taken 2//5/07, near opposition, with the 14" RCX and Phillips webcam.

Saturn Near 2007 Opposition.

This image was also taken with the webcam and 14" RCX400 telescope.

Saturn, the King of Planets.

The rings are wide in this January 2006 image, taken close to the planet's opposition. A good telescope will reveal the Cassini Division and some cloud features, as well as several attendant moons.

Uranus and Five Moons.

Here's a CCD image taken on 6/21/06. It's a stack of 9 exposures, each 1.5 seconds long, in each color. The five moons (Umbriel, Miranda, Ariel, Oberon, and Titania) were identified with the help of Sky & Telescope's Uranus' moons javascript utility.

Neptune and Triton.

This image shows the 8th planet, Neptune, with its moon Triton. Also taken on 6/21/06. Neptune was discovered in 1846 and Triton was discovered less than a month later.

The 9th Planet, Pluto.

Taken in the wee morning hours on May 20th, 2006, Pluto was still considered our 9th planet at the time. Sadly it was "demoted" to Dwarf Planet status on August 24, 2006 by the I.A.U. Pluto's discovery in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh was one of the great astronomical discoveries, made right here in Arizona.

Home | Solar System | Deep Space | Messier Objects | Observatory Visits | Star Parties