Processing Images – Saturn (Part 2 of 2)

Image processing of Saturn using the 3 exposures from the last post took a little more time than expected. The majority of the image processing can be done fairly quickly but time can be spent on trying to decide how the final image should appear.

Eventually we managed to get a fairly decent result… though not perfect. Sometimes it is very diffacult to achieve a better result so you have to do the best you can.

Saturn Scratch Removal (Click to Enlarge)

As was mentioned in the last post, there was a scratch on the rings in all 3 exposures which transferred across to the final picture. So the final stage of image processing was to remove the scratch completely. Using your favourite photo editing software, zoom into the area in question and simply remove the scratch.

Below is the result of processing the image of Saturn taken at 22nd March 2004. Here we have added color to the ring structure as well as the details of the planet itself. As you see can the scratch is no longer there.

Our image processing was done in a way as to highlight the features of the north pole of Saturn. The north pole of Saturn is interesting as there is a 6 sided hexagon shaped feature circling the pole. This is pretty odd as the feature has 6 almost perfectly equal straight sides  .

This is similar in ways to Earth’s polar vortex where winds blow in a circular pattern around the Earth’s polar region. On Saturn however, the vortex is hexagonal not circular and is large enough to fit 4 Earths inside the hexagon.

Though there is not much detail of this polar region in our picture, we were able to get the maximum detail possible so it gives an impression of what this vortex area looks like.

The image we have processed is what is known as a false color picture which shows Saturn reflected in infrared sunlight. Each color on the planet reflects the different composition and heights of the cloud layers. For example, in our picture the wide pinkish band on the planet near the rings is a result of the infrared sunshine streaming through the gap between the rings and the planet.

The blue colors indicate a clear atmosphere down to the main cloud layer.  The green and yellow colors indicate a haze above the main cloud layer. Red and orange colors indicate clouds reaching up high into the atmosphere.

Saturn is still visible early in the night but will probably be hard to see from Sydney within a matter of weeks.  You can find out how to locate saturn by seeing our topic on it at Sydney Universe Watch which can be found at

Saturn final image 2004-03-22 (Click to enlarge)

~ by sydneystargazers on July 2, 2010.

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