I have now spent many hours attempting to obtain decent afocal images of Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. Last night, Jupiter was in a perfect position and at its closest to the earth to really be able to get good images. In the Southern hemisphere it was as close to the zenith as it could get and at midnight the GRS was in a perfect position on the planet. But, alas, I had limited success as you can gather from the image I am posting here. Although reasonable surface markings can be seen, the image is a far cry from the fantastic images of Jupiter and Saturn that we have witnessed so far on the Forum.
The basic problem here is that too small an area of the CCD chip of the digital camera is exposed to the image. To expose a larger surface area one needs more magnification such as can be obtained with a 2 or 3X Barlow. But then it becomes almost impossible to position the image of the planet in the viewfinder of the camera. Believe me, I have tried and tried.
I have now realized that there really is no substitute for prime focus imaging with some system able to obtain longer exposures. For this you need a very stable mount, a good scope , lots of patience and software for stacking and optimizing image quality.
However, if you do not set your hopes to high, you can really get excellent images of the moon and reasonable images of the planets without incurring a lot of expense. Meanwhile, enjoy the wonderful images that some of our friends post on this Forum.
To obtain the image below, I manually stacked 5 of my best images using Microsoft Picture-It and optimized the brightness, contrast and sharpness of the image.