Equipment: filters

Telescope and Eye-pieces SkyWindow and Binoculars filters accessories

Vixen Color filter set

For planetary observation you can get many different color filters. I bought a set of six color filters from Vixen for my 1.25-inch eyepieces. They thread into the eyepiece. These are the specifications of the color filter set (specifications provided by Vixen itself):







- reducing blue light
- increasing contrast

Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars



- increasing contrast more than Y2 (yellow)

Moon, belts and zones of Jupiter and Saturn, ocean and desert regions of Mars



- darkening reds and lightening greens

Polar caps and yellow dust clouds of Mars, great red spot of Jupiter



- darkening reds and lightening blue
- improving the color balance on daylight color films for use with tungsten lighting

Upper atmospheric clouds of planets like the great red spot or belts and zones of Jupiter; the Moon



- intensifying an effect of the 80A (blue)

Clouds of Venus, polar caps of Mars

Light Grey


- reducing light with 50 percent

Full Moon or near full Moon, faint and bright double stars

I also use the yellow (Y2) filter on the Sun sometimes, to get more contrast.

I have used the Vixen Color filters for almost a year. I am by no means an experienced observer of the planets. I have to admit that I am not keen on using color filters for my planetary observations. I like the planets, just as they are, without any false colors, but then again I’m not an experienced planetary observer.

Reading through different articles available on the Internet (see the links below) will provide you with the necessary information on the use of color filters for astronomical observation. If you want to observe all the details and want to get everything out of your planetary observations, you will find the color filters very useful.

Vixen filters

My personal advice for the beginner: don’t be to quick buying color filters (or any other filters!).

There are more important things to buy (like a good set of eyepieces) to start with. Before you acquire a set of color filters, you should try some of them on a star-party, or lend them from a friend.

You can also buy an inexpensive set of 100 color filters from Edmund Scientific. Just hold these filters over your eyepiece and see what the effect of the different filters is, before buying the glass color filters. You can also construct your own color filters from the set from Edmund Scientific.

Vixen filters

Here are some interesting links on the use of color filters:

1. The use of filters (by Susan Carroll)
2. Observing the Planets with Color Filters (by Jeff Beish, former A.L.P.O. Senior Mars Recorder)

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