Here's a "snapshot" of Mars taken on August 6, 2003. I used a Casio digital "point-and-shoot", put it on manual exposure, guessed 1/60th second wide-open and held it up to the eyepiece. I let the camera's autofocus take care of sharpness because I didn't have my reading glasses on. The telescope was my Discovery 8" DHQ.

I believe the eyepiece was my 7mm Nagler, although it could have been my 9mm Nagler. The camera lens was zoomed in to make the largest size "dot" on the LCD screen. The picture was moving around a bunch and it was very hard to hold the camera still. I'm sure that contributed to the fuzziness of this picture compared to the view through the eyepiece. But still I came away surprised at the results from such a meager attempt to photograph Mars.

Even more surprising is how much of an improvement can be made by stacking multiple frames of the same subject. Below the first picture which is a single snapshot is a composite of 9 different frames that were aligned and stacked in Registax (freeware found at

mars8-03.jpg (31708 bytes)

Below is the processed picture made by stacking 9 of the digicam photos in Registax. It cancels out some of the noise and improves the picture quality. It's my first attempt at stacking pictures, and I was operating the software by mostly guessing.

mars_stacked.jpg (21098 bytes)

About a week later, I made another series of Mars photos using the digital camera. I was able to hand-hold the camera a bit better, and the results show this effort. Still, it would have been better if I had used a hardware device to hold the camera steady. The picture is comprised of about 6 stacked frames.

mars stacked8-25registax2_1.jpg (6643 bytes)

Bill Schneider