Planetary Astronomy

Observing, imaging and studying the planets

  • What instrument should I buy, is the one I already own fine for planets?
  • How do I correctly set my camera to image planets?
  • How deep should I process my images?
  • Using WinJupos, should I use video or image derotation?
  • What was this very strange detail on Jupiter last night?
  • How can I undertake a scientific assessment of my data?

If you ever ask yourself any of these questions (and many others…) you have certainly already looked for informations on the web, or ask people on forums. There are a lot of freely available, valuable information on internet, and many observers are skillful and ready to help you but … Information is highly scattered throughout the net, and is not organized.
Forums are made for people to share ideas or experiences. But then everyone is likely to post and you have no guarantee that they master what they are talking about, and with no guarantee that the persons who have the correct answer will even see your post! In other words, you are losing time looking for information better than having the best advices at hand to simply enjoy your observations!


Planetary Astronomy is a comprehensive book about observing, imaging, and studying planets. It has been written by seven authors, all being skillful amateur observers in their respective domains: Christian Viladrich, Marc Delcroix, Jean-Jacques Poupeau, Frédéric Burgeot, Giuseppe Monachino, and Jean-Pierre Prost. This is a translation and an update of the book Astronomie planétaire which encountered a great success in France since 2015.

With Planetary Astronomy you will learn to:

  • Make the best use of your equipment: choosing an instrument, setting correctly the optics of the telescope, setting the camera, using planetary filters, train your eye to see all available details at the eyepiece
  • Anticipate weather and seeing conditions, to not lose any good night
  • Use in depth the best planetary software: Autostakkert!, Registax, and WinJupos, how to objectively process details and colors
  • Identify features on planets: each of the seven planets (but Earth of course) has a detailed chapter that will help you to anticipate cycles of activity on Jupiter, recognize dust storms on Mars, detect bright storms on Uranus or Neptune
  • Analyse your data to go beyond simple observations: measuring position and details drifting on planets, making cartographies, participate in advanced observing projects including cooperation with scientists.

Planetary Astronomy is available since December 21, 2020.



Three of our planetary family’s members are easy to catch by the amateur even if inexperienced : Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. More difficult to see because they are either too close or too far away from the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Uranus and Neptune will ask for more experience to be revealed to the observer. Planetary astronomy requires choosing a suitable instrument and mastering its operation. Observing a planet is not just about taking a look at the eyepiece ; observing is something that you can learn…

Throughout the summary:

  • Which instrument is best suited for planetary observations ?
  • Collimating and evaluating your optics
  • Visual observing and drawing
  • Forecasting good seeing and choosing an observing site


When you want to keep a trail of what you have observed, you can either draw or photograph this wonderful object of the sky that is a planet. Planetary imaging will require you to master the processing technics and softwares, and the use of various accessories. Like observing, imaging is something that you can learn…


Throughout the summary:

  • The settings of the camera
  • Choosing and using filters for multispectral imaging
  • WinJupos’s « derotation » tutorials
  • Enhancing details with no noise and artefacts


Gone is the time when amateur planetary’s work was of no interest to science. Today, exciting projects of studying and analyzing the activity observed on the planets require the participation of amateurs to some professional works. It is also possible to carry out some personal projects, and you can even make true discoveries !

Throughout the summary:

  • A full description of the martian meteorology
  • Understanding the belts, zones and spots of Jupiter
  • Mapping and measuring details on planetary disks
  • Current and future projects of amateur/professional collaborations