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Which filters for Planetary Observing?


RobertI
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Hi all,

I am investigating whether planetary filters are worth getting, primarily to improve the detail I can pick up on Jupiter, and potentially to improve my viewing of the Moon, Saturn and Mars.

I shall be using a Megrez 72mm and a Celestron C8.

From research so far I was thinking the following would be most effective to start with:

  • A 50% neutral density filter for the moon
  • #8 Light Yellow for the small scope (good for moon)
  • #80A Blue for the large scope (good for Jupiter & Saturn)

However a number of other filters are also supposed to be effective (eg; #56 Light Green for the Red Spot, #29 Dark Red for Moon Transits) and I wonder whether a comprehensive set of filters may be more sensible. Sky’s the Limit do a comprehensive set of12x Wratten Filters + 1x Moon filter  for approximately £90, but I could end up with a comprehensive set of filters I never use.

From my research on this forum it seem like filters for planetary observing are somewhat personal and there is considerable debate over how effective they are.

Do I try a single filter to start with, or buy the three I identified above or buy an entire set?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Rob

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Other then the moon filter not sure it is actually worth getting a filter for planets.

Yes they are "bright" but that is only by compariaon.

Always seem odd buying a scope to collect light and then a bigger scope and more light then getting a filter to block a lot of it getting through.

My total number of filters numbers exactly 0.

Seen Saturn in great detail and Jupiter in the same.

Even the mnoon - yes it is bright but it really is brilliant.

I do not go to the magnifications required for Mars but have heard that an IR filter to block the IR just at the edge of vision is useful.

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I have never really got on with colour filters for planetary despite trying a few times. My main planetary/lunar filter is a baader neodymium which is pretty good all round for LP and increase of contrast. On the whole though my attitude to filters is that they must either improve the view/detail seen or make something previously invisible, visible.

In most cases where you use a colour filter the feature does become slightly more obvious but it was always visible. The general view though has deteriorated given the huge shift in colour.

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I use one of these http://www.rothervalleyoptics.co.uk/baader-neodymium-ir-cut-filters.html works well for me,

but everyone has there own opinion, it's what works

for you, have a read of the specs, but I don't think it

works well on fracs, works well with reflectors though,

it's really good on Jupiter and Mars, and really helps

with the G R S. there will be others with different opinions

I expect. I have never used colour filters so I can't help

with those.

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My attitude to filters is along the lines that Moonshane has described. I use filters for solar viewing and enhancing the contrast of certain deep sky objects but I've not had convincing results from planetary filters and don't feel the need to filter the moon.

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Thanks for the link Moonshane, i had already read this helpful article by Neil English and he appears to have strong views on the positive effects of filters. It appears to be a subject which 'polarizes' views.....

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With the inevitable variations in our eyes in terms of sensitivites etc it seems to me that the differences of opinion on filters are quite possibly based on expreience, ie: for some they work and for some they don't.  Over the past few years I've had a couple of sets of colour filters and polarised ones and the Baader Neodymium ones and have tried them on different targets. They didn't seem to do anything startling for me but I've no problem accepting that other eyes would see things differently.

For similar reasons eyepiece choice can be a very personal thing :smiley:

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With the inevitable variations in our eyes in terms of sensitivites etc it seems to me that the differences of opinion on filters are quite possibly based on expreience, ie: for some they work and for some they don't.  Over the past few years I've had a couple of sets of colour filters and polarised ones and the Baader Neodymium ones and have tried them on different targets. They didn't seem to do anything startling for me but I've no problem accepting that other eyes would see things differently.

For similar reasons eyepiece choice can be a very personal thing :smiley:

That's a very good point and i may be one of the people for whom filters do not work. I wish i knew someone with filters so i could have a try but sadly i don't. Perhaps i shall just get some cheap second hand filters and nothing much lost.

Rob

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Regarding filters for planets and other denizens, this is from Lumicon:

(I re-printed this from my posts in another forum)

#8 Light Yellow
Moon: Feature Contrast
Mars: Maria
Jupiter: Belts
Jupiter: Orange-Red Zonal
Uranus: Dusky Detail
Neptune: Dusky Detail

#11 Yellow-Green
Mars: Maria
Jupiter: Clouds
Jupiter: Red/Blue Contrast
Saturn: Clouds
Saturn: Cassini Division
Saturn: Red/Blue Contrast

#12 Yellow
Moon: Feature Contrast
Mars: Blue-Green Areas
Jupiter: Red-Orange Features
Saturn: Clouds
Saturn: Red-Orange Features

#15 Dark Yellow
Moon: Feature Contrast
Mars: Clouds
Mars: Polar Caps
Jupiter: Belts
Saturn: Belts
Uranus: Dusky Detail
Neptune: Dusky

Detail #21 Orange
Mars: Maria
Jupiter: Belts
Jupiter: Polar Regions
Saturn: Belts
Saturn: Polar Regions

#23A Light Red
Mercury: Planet/Sky Contrast
Mars: Maria
Mars: Blue-Green Areas
Jupiter: Belts
Jupiter: Polar Regions
Saturn: Belts
Saturn: Polar Regions
#25 Red
Mercury: Features
Venus: Planet/Sky Contrast
Venus: Terminator
Mars: Maria
Mars: Polar Caps
Jupiter: Belts
Jupiter: Galilean Moon Transits
Saturn: Clouds

#29 Dark Red
Mercury: Features
Venus: Planet/Sky Contrast
Venus: Terminator
Mars: Maria
Mars: Polar Caps
Jupiter: Belts
Jupiter: Galilean Moon Transits
Saturn: Clouds

#38A Dark Blue
Venus: Clouds
Mars: Dust Storms
Jupiter: Belts
Jupiter: Great Red Spot
Jupiter: Disc
Saturn: Belts

#47 Violet
Venus: Clouds
Mars: Polar Caps
Saturn: Rings

#56 Light Green
Moon: Detail
Mars: Dust Storms
Mars: Polar Caps
Jupiter: Belts
Jupiter: Atmosphere
Jupiter: Red/Blue/Light Contrast

#58 Green
Venus: Clouds
Mars: Polar Caps
Jupiter: Red/Blue/Light Contrast
Saturn: Belts
Saturn: Polar Regions
#80A Blue
Moon: Feature Contrast
Jupiter: Belts
Jupiter: Rilles
Jupiter: Festoons
Jupiter: Great Red Spot
Saturn: Belts
Saturn: Polar Regions

#82A Light Blue
Moon: Low-Contrast Features
Mars: Low-Contrast Features
Jupiter: Low-Contrast Features
Saturn: Low-Contrast Features

ND13 Neutral Density
13% Transmission
Moon: Glare Reduction
Double Stars: Bright Primary

ND25 Neutral Density
25% Transmission

ND50 Neutral Density
50% Transmission

Single Polarizing Filter

Rotating Polarizing Filter
Moon: Glare Reduction or Variable Transmission


Object
Features
Recommended Filter

Mercury
Planet/Sky Contrast
#23A Light Red
Features
#25 Red
#29 Deep Red

Venus
Clouds
#38A Deep Blue
#47 Violet
#58 Green
Planet/Sky Contrast
#25 Red
#29 Deep Red
Terminator
#25 Red
#29 Deep Red

Moon
Detail
#56 Light Green
Feature Contrast
#8 Light Yellow
#12 Yellow
#15 Deep Yellow
#80A Blue
Low Contrast Features
#82A Light Blue
Glare Reduction
ND13 Neutral Density

Mars
Clouds
#15 Deep Yellow
Maria
#8 Light Yellow
#15 Deep Yellow
#11 Yellow-Green
#21 Orange
#23A Light Red
#25 Red
#29 Deep Red
Blue-Green Areas
#12 Yellow
#23A Light Red
Dust Storms
#38A Deep Blue
#56 Light Green
Polar Caps
#15 Deep Yellow
#25 Red
#29 Deep Red
#47 Violet
#56 Light Green
#58 Green
Deep Sky Filter
Low Contrast Features
#82A Light Blue

Jupiter
Clouds
#11 Yellow-Green
Belts
#8 Light Yellow
#15 Deep Yellow
#21 Orange
#23A Light Red
#25 Red
#29 Deep Red
#38A Deep Blue
#56 Light Green
#80A Blue
Rilles
#80A Blue
Festoons
#80A Blue
Atmosphere
#56 Light Green
Red-Orange Features
#12 Yellow
Orange-Red Zonal
#8 Light Yellow
Red/Blue Contrast
#11 Yellow-Green
Blue/Light Contrast
#25 Red
Great Red Spot
#38A Deep Blue
#80A Blue
Galilean Moon Transits
#25 Red
#29 Deep Red
Red/Blue/Light Contrast
#56 Light Green
#58 Green
Polar Regions
#21 Orange
#23A Light Red
Disc
#38A Deep Blue
Low Contrast Features
#82A Light Blue

Saturn
clouds
#11 Yellow-Green
#12 Yellow
#25 Red
#29 Deep Red
Belts
#15 Deep Yellow
#21 Orange
#23A Light Red
#38A Deep Blue
#58 Green
#80A Blue
Polar regions
#21 Orange
#23A Light Red
#58 Green
#80A Blue
rings
#47 Violet
Cassini Division
#11 Yellow-Green
Red/Blue Contrast
#11 Yellow-Green
Red/Orange Features
#12 Yellow
Low Contrast Features
#82A Light Blue

Uranus
Dusky detail
#8 Light Yellow
#15 Deep Yellow

Neptune
Dusky detail
#8 Light Yellow
#15 Deep Yellow

Double Stars
Bright Primary
ND13 Neutral Density

Best Nebula Filters - For Selected Objects
Nebula Name Best Filter
M1 Crab nebula UHC
M8 Lagoon Nebula UHC
M16 Eagle Nebula UHC
M17 Swan Nebula O-III
M20 Trifid Nebula UHC
M27 Dumbbell Nebula UHC
M42 Orion Nebula UHC
M43 Orion Nebula H-Beta
M57 Ring Nebula UHC
M76 Little Dumbbell Nebula UHC
M97 Owl Nebula O-III
NGC40 UHC
NGC246 Skull Nebula O-III
NGC281 Pac-Man Nebula UHC
NGC604 in M33 O-III
NGC896/IC1795 UHC
NGC1360 O-III
NGC1491 UHC
NGC1499 California Nebula H-Beta
NGC1514 Crystal Ball Nebula O-III
NGC1999 none
NGC2022 O-III
NGC2024 Flame Nebula UHC
NGC2174 UHC
NGC2327 H-Beta
NGC2237-2239 Rosette Nebula UHC
NGC2264 Cone Nebula UHC
NGC2359 Thor's Helmet O-III
NGC2371-2 O-III
NGC2392 Eskimo Nebula O-III
NGC2436 UHC
NGC2438 in M46 O-III
NGC2440 UHC
NGC3242 Ghost of Jupiter UHC
NGC4361 UHC
NGC6210 O-III
NGC6302 The Bug Nebula O-III
NGC6334 UHC
NGC6357 O-III
NGC6445 UHC
NGC6543 CatsEye Nebula O-III
NGC6559 UHC
NGC6781 O-III
NGC6804 O-III
NGC6888 Crescent Nebula O-III
NGC6905 Blue Flash Nebula UHC
NGC6960-6995 The Veil Nebula O-III
NGC7000 North America Nebula O-III
NGC7008 O-III
NGC7009 Saturn Nebula none
NGC7023 Deep Sky
NGC7026 O-III
NGC7027 O-III
NGC7048 O-III
NGC7129-7133 UHC
NGC7139 O-III
NGC7293 Helix Nebula O-III
NGC7538 UHC
NGC7635 Bubble nebula O-III
NGC7662 Blue Snowball none
NGC7822 UHC
IC405 Flaming Star Nebula Deep Sky
IC410 O-III
IC417 H-Beta
IC434/B33 Horsehead Nebula H-Beta
IC1318 H-Beta
IC1396 UHC
IC1848 UHC
IC2177 Seagull Nebula H-Beta
IC4628 UHC
IC5067-70 Pelican nebula UHC
IC5076 inNGC6991 H-Beta
IC5146 Cocoon Nebula H-Beta
PK64+5.1 Campbell's Hydrogen Star H-Beta
PK164+31.1 Headphone Nebula UHC
PK205+14.1 Medusa Nebula O-III
Sh2-13 UHC
Sh2-54 UHC
Sh2-84 UHC
Sh2-101 UHC
Sh2-112 O-III
Sh2-132 O-III
Sh2-142 O-III
Sh2-155 Deep Sky
Sh2-157 UHC
Sh2-170 UHC
Sh2-171 UHC
Sh2-235 H-Beta
Sh2-254-5-6-7-8 inIC2162 H-Beta
Sh2-261 UHC
Sh2-276 Barnard's Loop H-Beta
Sh2-311 in NGC2467 UHC
vdB93(Gum-1) near IC2177 H-Beta

Not a bad list! As a certifiable Filter-Nut, I've found it quite useful. Now I've graduated to the harder stuff: Diffraction-Gratings for spectro-analysis. Oh woe is me.....

Clear & Colourful Skies,

Dave

Edited by Dave In Vermont
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I used to ignore colour filters as I mainly observed lunar and deep sky . Being red green colour blind, short sighted, astigmatic and partially night blind in one eye ( hey , I should take up fishing instead !)

I was quite intrigued to get tight or delicate doubles that I showed other observers, who could not see them.

Using fast achros, I turned to filters and found the following of great use. However I do think that individual preference is a dictating feature,

23A light red filter has shown significant details on Jupiter and Mars. This has helped with the contrast along with reducing the aperture of viewing.

A really ancient Moon filter has sometimes helped with glare.

I'd just try out a cheap end planetary filter set. It's worth experimenting,

Nick.

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Only had to steal it off Lumicon originally. Now it lives in a file for copy & paste jobs. :p

Woof!

Dave

Thanks for the list Dave - this is really useful especially for the deep sky objects and I shall add to my list of resources.

For planets I think the list confirms that just about every filter can allegedly help some planetary feature or other. I have read the planetary filter guide on the AganaAstro website  which goes one step further and attempts to classify the planetary filters by 'Good', 'Excellent', 'Best' which is useful but there is also the issue of whether the transmission is suitable for the size of scope. Teleskop Service offer filter sets for small medium and large apertures. In addition just about every filter I have come accross (including LPR filters, contrast boosters, etc) all claim to have beneficial effects on planetary observing.  :confused:  I think you can see why I came to the forum for some practical advice. :smiley: 

I used to ignore colour filters as I mainly observed lunar and deep sky . Being red green colour blind, short sighted, astigmatic and partially night blind in one eye ( hey , I should take up fishing instead !)

I was quite intrigued to get tight or delicate doubles that I showed other observers, who could not see them.

Using fast achros, I turned to filters and found the following of great use. However I do think that individual preference is a dictating feature,

23A light red filter has shown significant details on Jupiter and Mars. This has helped with the contrast along with reducing the aperture of viewing.

A really ancient Moon filter has sometimes helped with glare.

I'd just try out a cheap end planetary filter set. It's worth experimenting,

Nick.

Thanks Nick, I think buying a cheapo set is probably the answer. I do have a LPR filter and also a polarising filter and yellow filter for my old camera. I guess I could hold these in front of the eyepiece and see if any of them look promising. It might help to establish my own likely attitude towards filters before I buy a cheapo set.

Thanks for all the practical advice folks.

Rob

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Must say, I haven't used any filters for planetary viewing before - but I have been intrigued by the TeleVue planetary filter :-

http://www.televue.com/engine/TV3b_page.asp?id=56&Tab=_back#.VLAmVHTZ7LY

I've read some good reviews about this one which seems to provide a boost in detail on Jupiter and Saturn (some for Mars) without changing the colours much (apparently provides more colour to the likes of the GRS and festoons). I've seen a lot of positive reviews, but also people who are not convinced one is required.

Still intrigued though......

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Well done, Robert, you don't have much to lose trying! Be great to hear back your findings. I got a set of 80A, 21 and 12 along with a moon filter. I've experimented with them from time to time and there are not a lot of times I can say it definitely improved a view, though I've enjoyed trying them out. The blue 80A has given some improved views of Saturn and Jupiter on occasion. I suppose I have not spent enough time at the EP to say for sure, but I enjoy having the set around. 12 is supposed to be good for comet tails but I've found the tail needs to be visible in the first place. If Lovejoy shows a tail, I'll be having a try for sure. I use the moon filter most of all and prefer to tone down the glare of a moon over 50%, and have just started trying this mild filter on Jupiter to boost contrast. As for nebula filters, I'm a big fan, with the caveat that they heavily chop down the light. I'm on the cusp of getting a 2" O-III, but that's off topic, sorry!

The unanimous opinion is everyone's eyes, and therefore our preferences, are different. I read Nick's post with interest as I also am red-green colorblind, and there doesn't seem to be much information on the effect of this on stargazing. It would be very interesting to know what strengths or weaknesses this introduces. The Orange 21 gave me some pleasing views of Mars last season, and not sure if this was just because of the way my eyes work.

Enjoy trying out the new tools!

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Thanks Kevin. My impression from the posts to date and what i have read is that planetary filters do not generally show more detail when doing a back to back comparison with and without the filter, but over the course of a lengthy oberserving and sketching session of say an hour or two, extra details can be revealed. Of course it is virtually impossible to prove this and i appreciate that for many people in the most common observing scenarios, filters just don't do anything. I am looking forward to finding out. The filters i have got are #12 Yellow, #21 Orange, #25 Red, #56 Light Green, #58 Green, #80A Blue plus unknown moon filter.

Thanks for the encouragement!

Rob

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