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Everything posted by Dom543

  1. Thank you All! I hope that this will encourage more users to experiment with and enjoy the real-time multispectral capability of Starlight Live, which is a unique feature not matched by any other software. Clear Skies! --Dom
  2. Eastern Veil (aka Network Nebula) in Hubble Palette 3x60 sec exposures with each of S-II, H-alpha and O-III narrowband filters mean stacked in StarlightLive v.3.0. Red is Sulfur, Green is Hydrogen, Blue is Oxygen. The Veil is surprisingly rich in Sulfur. The only nebula I encountered this far, where all three components are present in approximately with the same intensity. Sulfur and Hydrogen overlap significantly resulting in the rusty brown and golden yellow colors. But closer inspection shows that there also are pure Sulfur (red) and pure Hydrogen (green) strands. Oxygen is mostly well separated. This nebula really benefits from the Hubble palette that assigns S-II and Ha to different base colors. Otherwise they would be both shades of deep red and practically indistinguishable. This would be nice in higher resolution. and larger field. Next time I should try it with the Ultrastar. Equipment used: CGEM mount, Meade 10" f6.3 SCT, 3.3 reducer, TS manual filter drawer, Baader 7nm and 8.5nm filters, Lodestar x2 mono camera, StarlightLive v3.0. Taken from Seattle under full light pollution but no moon. Clear Skies! --Dom
  3. You have very good eyes Martin. Those star fields are rich and dense. To discover those fuzzy little creatures in that environment requires some selective vision. Thank you for shring this with us! --Dom
  4. Important Final Note Before moving to another object make sure to hit the "Reset" button on the "Display Processing" tab. If you forget to do this, all future captures will be displayed with the skewed color channel balance that we crated in Step 3 to even out the playing field between strong Oxygen and relatively weaker Hydrogen. (It is NOT enough to re-check the "Modify All" checkbox.) Finally, I would like to thank to Paul Shears for developing StarlightLive and for incorporating this unique multispectral capability for all of us to enjoy it. Clear Skies! --Dom
  5. Step 3: We adjust display parameters using the sliders of the "Display Processing" tab in the following three steps. A. We intensify red selectively by the following. 1. Uncheck the "Modify All" checkbox. 2. Select the "Red" radiobutton. 3. Incease Contrast (of red) substantially from its initial 0.50 value. B. We tone down green and blue slightly to achieve the color balance that we like. 1. Keep the "Modify All" checkbox unchecked. 2. Select the "Blue" radiobutton. 3. Reduce contrast of blue slightly from its initial 0.50 level. Repeat the same after selecting the "Green" radio button. C. We liven up the image by making it brighter and more vibrant. 1. Stretch the image by lowering the "White Level" slider. This will make everything brighter. 2. Increase color saturation from its initial 1.00 to 1.50. The three sets of slider adjustments are shown below. Here is the resulting final image. As one can see, the effects of light pollution are totally eliminated by use of the narrowband filters and we still have natural colors. This is one of the important benefits of this technique for those of us operating from urban locations. Save the image from the "Image Export" tab, if you are satisfied with it.
  6. Step 2: We switch filters to H-alpha and modify the "Exposure Control" tab settings the following way. a.) Check the "Red" checkbox in the "Exposure Channel Mask" area. b.) Uncheck the "Green" and "Blue" checkboxes. c.) Keep the "All" checkbox unchecked. These settings are shown below and they will make H-alpha emissions to be displayed in their natural red. Now we hit the Start button to resume capturing 30 second frames and stacking them on top of the Oxygen frames captured earlier. After adding three H-alpha frames to the stack, we see the following screen. We see that the red of the H-alpha has appeared but overall the image we got is somewhat disappointing. Fairly dark, the colors are dull and the red of the H-alpha is overwhelmed by cyan of the much stronger O-III. Had we known that Oxygen is so much stronger in this nebula, we could have taken 15 sec O-III exposures and stacked them together with 30 sec H-alpha frames. This kind of imbalance of emissions, and hence of colors, is quite common in multispectral work. Establishing the right balance by differing exposure times requires repeated trial and error and spoils the real-time experience. For this reason I show in the next post how to correct the shortcomings of the above image using the selective channel control tools available in StarlightLive.
  7. The Dumbbell Nebula M27 emits most of its light in the O-III and H-alpha spectra. We will use the two corresponding narrowband filters and sythesize our image from these two emission lines. Step 1: We put in our O-III filter and set the "Exposure Control" tab for capturing the Oxygen emission in the following way. a.) Set "Exposure" to 30 sec or whatever fits your conditions. b.) Check the "Green" and "Blue" checkboxes in the "Exposure Channel Mask" area. This is to make the captured Oxygen emission to be displayed in its natural Green+Blue= Cyan color. c.) Uncheck the "All" checkbox in the "Exposure Channel Mask" area. Now we hit the Start button. After stacking three frames for nice smooth image, we see the following screen.
  8. General Conditions The captures below were made from our attic level deck in the close-in Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. To the South we have a direct triple view of all the lights of downtown Seattle with all its tall buildings, Space Needle and construction cranes about 2 miles away. One view straight through the air, a second one reflected on the surface of Lake Union that separates us from downtown and a third one reflected through the moisture droplets ever present in the skies of Seattle. So we are bathing in artificial light. Due to its moisture content, the air here is never very transparent. Even on clear nights we see only the brightest stars with bare eyes. With camera assisted observing, we need longer exposures from here in Seattle than from locations with dryer air. I am not listing all these hardships to make you feel pity for us. But so that you can properly appreciate the magic of the narrowband filters that help to overcome these handicaps. O.k. It's time to aim the telescope and launch StarlightLive. Before we begin the actual capturing, we set the "Display Processing" tab sliders to my favorite baseline values. - Black Level to 30% - Contrast to 50% - All others left at default values. We also set up the Stacking tab by - Checking the "Enable Live Stacking" box, - Selecting "Mean" mode of stacking. Below are the tabs from the StarlightLive v.3.0 window with these settings.
  9. Equipment Needed Apart from the usual mount, telescope and camera setup we will also need filters. And most importantly, we will need the capability to quickly change the filters during the live stacking process. To avoid the need for refocusing, the filters should be parfocal. This means that they need to be made of the same type and of same thickness of glass. Typically filters of the same size and from the same manufacturer are parfocal. To quickly change filters during the stacking process one can use a filter wheel or a filter drawer system. StarlightLive v3.0 and higher can control Starlight Xpress motorized filter wheels from the software. I am not that high tech and use only a manual filter drawer system from Teleskop Service of Germany, than can also be bought fom OPT in the US. Other manual filter drawer systems are also sold by Hutech, Starizona and Gerd Neumann. The following photo shows one of my setups that consists (from left to right) of a Meade 3.3 reducer, an SCT to T-tread adapter, the TS filter drawer holder (with a drawer halfway pulled out), a T-thread extension, a 1.25" eyepiece holder and a monochrome Lodestar x2 camera. Another setup that my wife prefers consists of a Vixen flip mirror, the TS filter drawer system, T-threaded extension, eyepiece holder and the Lodestar camera. There is a Meade 6.3 reducer built into the nosepiece of the flip mirror, that is not visible on the photo. For the current exercise I use a Meade 10" SCT on a CGEM mount with the flip mirror assembly of the second photo, Baader 7nm H-alpha and 8.5nm O-III narrowband filters and a monochrome Lodestar X2 camera. The optical assembly yields an approximately f/4 focal ratio and a resulting focal length of about 1000mm. Even though I am using a monochrome camera here, everything shown on this thread could also be done with an OSC color camera. The multispectral technique is NOT limited to monochrome cameras.
  10. Paul Shears, creator of StarlightLive has built a unique feature into current versions of the software that allows to live-stack together color images from frames captured with different filters. This way one can also create color images with monochrome cameras while retaining their inherently higher resolution. Or one can live-synthesize images comprising only the few characteristic narrowband spectra of emission nebulae. Since every filter picks out a part of the light spectrum and several of these spectral components are pieced together, the technique is usually referred to as the multispectral capability of StarlightLive. The many interesting uses of this technique would merit their own thread. Here I want to show only how to create such an image step-by-step on a very simple example. The purpose is not to demonstrate the full potential of this technique but to give a first hand-on experience for those, who want to try it out. I chose the Dumbbell Nebula M27 because it is bright,large and easily accessible during the entire summer for every amateur from the Northern hemisphere. It also has the advantage that most of its light is emitted in only two two narrow bands of H-alpha and O-III. Hence two filters are sufficient to create a nice colorful image.
  11. As far as I know, you can do simultaneous guiding and capturing with the Lodestar using the SX software that comes with the Lodestar. This is an official feature not a hack. People are just not using it because the Lodestar is sufficiently sensitive to yield nice images within the unguided range of up to 90-120 sec exposures. Clear Skies! --Dom
  12. As an alternative to the Revolution 2 that nobody has heard before or tried, there are very good deals available for used analog video cameras. People are switching from analog to digital (aka USB) and ditching their old equipment, before the pool of buyers for the old technology dries up. Clear Skies! --Dom
  13. Maybe you double click on the program file and that makes Windows launch it twice. Try to make a shortcut to lunch SLL. Just a thought... --Dom
  14. Make sure that you don't have two copies of SLL open that are trying to work with the same camera. The symptom that you describe happened to me a couple of times. Every time there was a forgotten copy of SLL left open from an earlier session. Even if it is minimized or has its window covered by other windows, the app is there and competing for access to the camera. Clear Skies! --Dom
  15. Hi Brandon and Others, I should have but forgot to say in the first post that anyone is more than welcome to post multispectral images on this thread. That way people interested in this technique can can use this tread as a resource. The problem with the CN EAA forum is that everyone is posting their images on the gallery thread now. There is no topical grouping and is very difficult to find the particular images one is interested in. Clear Skies! --Dom
  16. M51 in colors with Lodestar mono I have been trying to capture the blue of the star forming regions in galaxies for some time but have not been satisfied with past results. This capture is stacked together with the multispectral capabilities of LodestarLive v.3.0. Three 30 sec exposures were mean stacked with each of the R. G and B filters, 9 frames total. My Meade 10" SCT was used focally reduced to about f4.0. Unfortunately no darks were used and I forgot to turn on defective pixel removal, I apologize for the few stray pixels. The colors are subtle but the photons had a long way to travel to end up on the sensor of my camera. And the final stretch of their journey was though the vapor laden moist air typical for the Pacific Northwest. But the blue is there and it is only, where it should be, not everywhere as if the entire galaxy had been dipped into blue paint. To see this I made a 500% zoom of a section of the galaxy in an image editor and pushed up saturation to the max. This way one can see the color of each pixel individually. There are lots of colors captured other than blue. Areas where red and green pixels mix yield the rusty brown color characteristic of galaxies. The blue is in blobs along the main spiral arms, where the star forming regions are concentrated. (You may have to click on the picture below to see the individual pixels in full resolution. I also want to mention that this zoom is from the above image file processed and saved by StarlightLive. Not form the FITs data file.) To illustrate the difference that the incorporation of the multispectral features into StarlightLive make, I also include the best result of my attempts from almost exactly a year ago. That capture was made with a Lodestar x2 color camera and I tried to enhance it by also including in the stack frames made with a blue filter. This is similar to what we are doing now as multispectral. But at that time one could not assign frames individually to the color channels. The only way to bring out some of the blue was to reduce the brightness of the red and green components making the overall image rather dark. The progress between last year's picture and this year's image is a direct result of Paul's hard work to implement the multispectral technique in StarlightLive. The lead image of this post has been captured during our weekend camping trip with my wife to the Wenas Wildlife area East of Seattle. We didn't encounter any wildlife, except wild flowers going really wild. Below is a photo of our telescope at our chosen site, as we were setting up after arrival around sunset. The Meade 10" SCT is sitting on a CGEM mount. The computer with its 17" screen is on the spreader shelf of the mount and the environmentally incorrect lead-acid deep-cycle battery powering everything is conveniently covered up by a multispectral grouping of yellow asters and blue lupines. Finally, since I still have space within SGL's generous file size allowance, here is a close-up of the fully armed telescope for those of you, who like equipment. To the 10" SCT is attached a flip mirror with built in x0.63 focal reducer and holding the Lodestar x2 monochrome camera. Piggybacking on top is a 180mm Nikkor f2.8 ED camera lens with an SX-825 monochrome camera for wide field views. Clear Skies! --Dom
  17. I am starting this thread to serve as a retrievable home for my multispectral captures this coming summer. Those, who are interested in the multispectral technique of using monochrome cameras with filters to make near-real-time color captures, will be able to find my captures here together. I am not a high volume producer. I like to spend some quality time with each of my targets, trying to understand, explore and appreciate them in various ways and through various views. As a result, I typically look at only one to three objects per night. I also am in Seattle now, where weather doesn't always cooperate. So this will be a slow growing thread. Thank you for bearing with me and for checking back periodically, when new posts move the thread to the top of the forum list. Clear Skies! --Dom
  18. It happens to me periodically that I know that the object should be there but I cannot see it on the screen. The three most common reasons are the following. 1. I forgot to remove the black cardboard from the filter slider that I use to make darks. 2. My focus is way off. Not even Sirius is detectable on the screen. 3. I forgot to push up the contrast slider from its default zero position to at least 50%. Clear Skies! --Dom
  19. My first "serious" EAA camera was a Lodestar x2 color and I believe that that was the right way for me to start. Color does add a new dimension to the observing experience and enjoyment. The x2 camera is more sensitive that the old Lodestar and consequently delivers brighter images with shorter exposures. Also widens the sphere of potential targets and reduces the danger of frustration due to inaccurate tracking. In my opinion, when one starts out with something new, it is important to make things as easy, smooth and enjoyable as possible. With experience one is able to overcome difficulties. But during the startup period, while one doesn't have the experience yet, the best is to avoid any potential difficulties, less than perfectly enjoyable experiences and distractions. To me the $100 price difference between the x2 and the older Lodestar is well worth the comfort that I don't need to put up with images that are fainter than optimal or that I don't need to push exposures beyond the capabilities of my mount. These are my 2 cents about someone else's $100 ... Clear Skies! --Dom
  20. I read at several places that the Chinese manufacturer discontinued the production of the LN300 camera that was the basis of the Revolution Imager package. It is no longer available from the usual sources. The OPT store says "discontinued" the Revolution web sore says "Sold out". The fact that manufacturers are abandoning the long exposure analog video security camera market was one of the developments that prompted the CN discussion about analog video astronomy becoming an endangered species. The OP was lucky to get one of the last ones. It was a good and moderately priced starter camera. Hopefully gunfighter48 is using the very nice weather and clear skies in the Seattle area to enjoy his new camera. Clear Skies! --Dom
  21. Chris, The Lodestar was indeed originally designed as a guide camera. But then our fellow forum member Nytecam discovered the potential of this very sensitive camera for near-real-time camera assisted observing. Inrigued by this, another fellow forum member Paul81 wrote software originally called LodestarLive, more recently renamed StarlightLive, expressly to help this real-time observational usage of this camera. As a result Lodestar x2 became one of the most popular and powerful instuments of electronically assisted astronomical observing. You don't need autoguiding for what we are doing here. The Lodestar would be your real-time imaging camera a.k.a. "Astro-Video" camera. I cannot answer your question if your Dob's tracking will be accurate enough for 30 sec exposures. But the modern sensor of the Lodestar will require shorter exposures than the sensor of a 10 years old design. And if your tracking is not good enough, then StarlightLive software can still build up the equivalent of 30 sec exposures by adding up three 10 sec frames. It places stars on stars so that it corrects for tracking errors and you will not see star trails. Benefiting from the Lodestar's 1.25 eyepiece barrel form factor, you will probably be able to add an x0.7 focal reducer and achieve f/3.5 focal ratio. This will allow you to halve your exposure times. The best way to assess what you will be able to see with the camera is to look at some recent threads by fellow forum members or their galleries. The bottom of the images made with StarlightLive always lists the exposure times used. 4x30s means that four 30sec exposures were live stacked. Here are a few random threads recently posted by Lodestar users. https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/266692-galaxy-quest-and-sll-v30/ https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/267629-an-evenings-eaa-viewing-with-starlight-live-and-a-lodestar-c/ https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/268250-images-from-last-night-lodestar-xc-2/ Here are two of my own threads posted this past winter and spring https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/265965-from-winter-towards-the-summer-along-the-milky-way/?page=1 https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/263856-starlightlive-multispectral-and-hdr-captures/ Or look at one of the Lodestar galleries of our prolific fellow member HiloDon https://stargazerslounge.com/gallery/album/3323-lodestar-x2c-images/ Or the gallery documenting my first year with my Lodestar https://stargazerslounge.com/gallery/album/3729-widefield-lodestar/ I encourage you to do some more research or listening to others before you make a purchase decision. As our Video Astronomy branch involves technology, it evolves very fast. Similarly to computers, cameras also are getting faster and more powerful at an exponential rate. Clear Skies! --Dom P.s. You have to be careful to assure that your camera will be able to achieve focus with your Dob. The bulkier cameras may not be able to go in deep enough into the focuser.
  22. Chris, I don't want to hurt any business's sales but if you look at this thread http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/535488-are-astrovideo-cameras-going-to-become-an-endangered-species/, you see that analog video cameras, like the ones you are considering, are considered a technology of the past. Not only that but they are also fairly expensive compared to more powerful modern alternatives. If you are planning to use your camera with a computer, then USB image head cameras are the mainstay these days. They connect to the computer with a single cable, are based on modern sensors and have very good and user friendly software. I have experience only with the USB CCD cameras and in this category the Lodestar x2, the SX Ultrastar and the Atik Infinity are the most popular choices for near-real-time observing. As you plan to use an f/5 Dobsonian, sensitivity is an important consideration. It allows for shorter exposures. With that in mind my personal #1 recommendation would be a Lodestar x2 color. It is the most sensitive from the above mentioned batch and it has a 1.25" eyepiece form factor. It can slide into the focuser tube as deep as necessary to reach focus. The free StarlightLive software that you would use with it has been designed for real-time astronomy and is very easy to use. It stacks your captures in real time, you see the image quality improving as you are observing. The Ultrastar has a somewhat higher resolution but a proportionally lower sensitivity. The Ultrastar requires approximately twice as long exposures than the Lodestar. Other than that, both cameras are made by the same manufacturer, have the same form factor and they use the same software. The Atik Infinity has the same sensor and hence the same resolution as the Ultrastar but is made by Atik and has a different form factor. It cannot slide deep into the focuser so I don't know, if it can reach focus with your reflector. Please take a look at the threads about these cameras and check out the galleries of their users. I am sure others members of this forum will also chime in. Clear Skies! --Dom
  23. DoctorD, Your post suggests that the Atik Infinity has a better sensitivity than the SX Ultrastar and more comparable to the sensitivity of the Lodestar. Is this the general concensus about the Atik Infinity? Based on the fact that the Infinity and the Ultrastar are using the same ICX825 sensor, I thought that their sensitivities were comparable. Does the Infinity have additional gain circuitry or is it known how does Atik bring out more sensitivity from the same sensor? I wasn't able to log in frequently and follow these forums in the past few months. If there was a discussion of this, then I apologize for asking this question again but I have missed that discussion. Thank you, --Dom
  24. Orion the Snowman To me our friend Orion looks more like a half-melted potbellied snowman than the handsome hunter for whom the Greek godesses were competing. He even has a wide grin, eyes and an ear on his round head made with fading charcoal... Anyway, this is what I see with a Samyang 14mm camera lens, a Lodestar x2 mono camera, a 7nm H-alpha filter and StarlightLive v.3.0. 3x90sec exposeures with the Ha filter assigned to the red cannel plus 2x45sec exposures assigned to the green and blue channels. I used the non-linear x^0,25 HDR option in StarlightLive to reduce the brighness of M42 and enhance the fainter Hydrogen nebulosity. One challenge with these large fields is to find a 5 minute period, when no little cloud is floating through the field somewhere. It took me three nights... The head is Sh2-264, also called the Angelfish or Meissa Nebula. The belly in Sh2-276 Barnard's Loop. For those, who don't believe that this is Orion, I include a reduced copy of the capture with the familiar outlines. Say goodbye to our friend, spring is here and he will melt away soon for the year. Clear Skies! --Dom
  25. That's of a whale of a release Paul! I know that you have been working on some of these features since last summer. We really appreciate all the time, effort and love that you have been investing on this piece of software art. When you incorporated support for 825 based and other cameras last year and the program was renamed from LL to SLL, we mused that the new acronym was for Super Lodestar Live. Now version 3 could then be called Hyper Lodestar Live except that, I am afraid, we would soon run out of names and superlatives. Thank you very much! --Dom
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