The reference article about pro/am cooperation in planetary astronomy


Participating to scientific work when you’re an amateur observer, is that possible? Answer is yes! I have talked about it on several occasions on this blog, and here is a must-read on the topic if you’d like to get into that.

The adventure started two years ago during the “4th pro-am school of the CNRS”, a astronomical meeting organized in France every four years by the National center for scientific research (CNRS) and the AUDE association (association of the users of electronic detectors). During this session organized in 2012 in La Rochelle, people attending the meeting enjoyed for the first time a morning dedicated to the gas giants studies. Talks where performed by Ricardo Hueso Alonso (University of Basque country, about the climatic system of giant planets), Marc Delcroix (SAF, about the 2011 saturnian storm) and Jean-Luc Dauvergne (Ciel et Espace journalist /AFA, about planetary imaging). At the end, Olivier Mousis, from Besançon observatory, proposed to the participants to work on a paper who would describe the different domains of possible cooperation in planetary astronomy between amateurs and professionals.

Two years later, the paper has finally been published! It’s the result of an intense work directed by Olivier of no less than sixty co-authors both professionals and amateurs – I had the honor and pleasure to work on the Venus, Mars, and Uranus/Neptune chapters. Instrumental methods for professional and amateur collaborations in planetary astronomy” describes with around one hundred pages the different domains of possible collaboration, along with the tools and the observing methods one should use. No need to say that this publication is an event!

The paper contains of course chapters dedicated to the study of the different planets of our Solar system: Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. But it deals also with other interesting topics:

  • meteor showers,
  • Impacts (comets/asteroids) on the giants and the Moon,
  • Near Earth asteroids (NEAs),
  • Comets,
  • The Kuiper belt objects (KBOs),
  • The exoplanets.

The paper can be downloaded on the link above for $39.95.


A possible new “high altitude cloud” observed


The most noticeable observation of Mars in the last 2012 season has been the imagery of what is generally interpretated as a cloud of very high altitude, because it was projecting well beyond the terminator into the night. Those phenomena look to happen regularly and many have been found [...] Continue Reading…


Planetary mission at the Pic du Midi, 8-9th March 2014


On March 8/9th, I had the honor and pleasure to participate to a planetary mission at the 1-meter telescope of the Pic du Midi (T1M) lead by Marc Delcroix, President of the SAF planetary observations commission. Here is a summary!

The T1M of the Pic du Midi observatory is [...] Continue Reading…


Observing Mars: some technical advices


After the article, “What can we see on Mars this year” let’s now review some technical advices.

Make images in true colors
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What can we see on Mars this year?


Mars will be at opposition again on April 8th, 2014. Here are some phenomena you must look for!

Mars will be at opposition in one month and a half and is already finely observable since its apparent diameter has now passed 10″. It will reach a maximum of 15,2″ [...] Continue Reading…


Interview: Yann Le Gall, planetary imaging with a large Dobsonian


Many instruments can be used to image planets. This week I’m portraying observer Yann Le Gall, who is making splendid images with large dobsonian on an equatorial platform !
Browse Yann’s homepage here!

Astrophotographie au dobson
Hello Yann! Can you tell us about you and your activity in astronomy?

I was born in [...] Continue Reading…


Planetary ephemeris with WinJupos (II): the graphics


After the first part where we learned how to get started with WinJupos’ephemeris, here is the second part where we’re going to learn how to set the graphic simulation, which is one the best tools!

Choose your map
WinJupos is delivered with various map projections for every planets as well as [...] Continue Reading…


Jupiter with “Mickey’s head”


Since a few weeks, a curious pattern of white spots is evolving in the southern hemisphere of Jupiter, with a clear look-alike of the Mickey’s head. I have been able to image it last 22nd January; what is it exactly?

The “Mickey’s head” is a pattern of three white spots [...] Continue Reading…


Prefer natural colors to mono-band luminances


After reviewing why it is better to use a true green filter for planetary imaging, I’m now talking about the use of luminances realized with mono-band filters, in particular with red or infrared images. If you appreciate this kind of processing this is fine, but just keep in mind [...] Continue Reading…


Planetary ephemeris with WinJupos (I): getting started


WinJupos is well known for its functionalities about image processing. But its offers as well a performing module of ephemeris. Here is how to get started

Setting the software
To have the ephemeris correctly working, you need to enter your geographical coordinates. Our terrestrial longitudes and latitudes determine the precise rising [...] Continue Reading…

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