Astronomy and Sky Website of Martin Lewis

Rotating Globe of Mars 2012

This is an animation of Mars as it appeared at opposition in early March 2012 with each second of the video representing an hour of real time.

The video was created with the help of Winjupos and Virtual Dub using an albedo map which was also compiled in Winjupos. The map was created from seven images taken through my 222mm dobsonian telescope using a DMK21Af618As camera and with the scope mounted on my home-built equatorial platform.

For more information on the creation of the map please see my webpage here. More information on how the video was created can be found below.

For interest, the image below compares the original images used to compile the albedo map (bottom row) with frames from the video at the same central meridian longitudes (top row). Click on the image to enable you to more closely compare the pairings.

Rotating Globe of Mars 2010

This Mars animation was created from an albedo map of the planet whose creation is described here and which itself was generated from six separate webcam images of the planet taken between 17th Jan and 5th March 2010 using my 222mm Dobsonian on my home-built equatorial platform.

In this animation again 1 second of the animation represents 1 hour of real time. 

This animation took about 120hrs of effort on my part.  This includes taking and processing the Mars images in the first place, making the whole globe albedo map from the original images, blending the sections to make it look seamless, rewrapping this back onto a globe, reblending the sections, then producing a set of 600 jpegs for the whole globe and finally turning this image sequence into the video.

A lot of people are thinking that I took enough images through my telescope that when combined together make this smooth video animation.  Such an approach would, however, be nearly impossible, requiring many hundreds of individual Red Green and Blue images to be taken all with the same colour balance and gamma.  The method actually used was to start with enough images to get full coverage of the globe (six images in this case), and then use these to make a full albedo map of the planet.  The map is generated with help from the freeware program WinJupos.  This map needed the individual sections (one section from each original webcam Mars image) to be blended together twice; once to make a decent map and again much more carefully once rewrapped onto a globe.  The second blending was required because the compression of the map around the pole when you move to a globe compresses the tiniest difference between sections into an abrupt change.  The second stage of blending was all done in Photoshop.

Once the map is wrapped back onto a globe then you can rotate it to any orientation and see what the planet looks like.  I worked with a professional animator, Chris Antoniou, using a program called Nuke to wrap the map onto the planet and to generate views of Mars at 2.5 minute intervals over a complete Martian day.  This needed 600 jpegs in total.

I then used Virtual Dub to import the image sequence of 600 images and generate the avi file, which was then uploaded to YouTube.

Thanks to help from Chris Antoniou without whom this animation would not have been possible.