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About Xiga

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    Star Forming
  1. Hi there. Yeah the camera arrived back safe and sound. I was hoping for some clear skies last night but got clouded out so I couldn't test it out properly. But what I can say is this: Auto focus still works fine Pictures have a definite red hue, which is encouraging, 😁 The sensor-cleaning function still works fine I took a few quick flats and stretched them to the limit in PS. I couldn't make out a single mark of any kind anywhere. I only used the basic 18-55mm kit lens rather than my telescope, but it looks like the sensor came back in perfect condition, if anything maybe even cleaner than it was when I sent it 😀 Overall I'm more than happy with the service. As soon as I manage a first light I'll post something up. With the weather the way it is at present, expect that to be sometime in the new year 😉
  2. Wow that is cheap, happy days mate 😀 I would have thought there'd be no difference in price between our cameras, what with them both being crop sensors, but maybe the more modern D5300 is more difficult to do.
  3. For the benefit of others, here are the details of the conversation I had with Mark at JTWAstronomy: Price was €177 for an APS-C Nikon D5300. A Full Frame camera would likely cost a bit more. The mod they recommend for DSLR's is now is a BBAR coated 700 nm shortpass filter, no additional blocking (i.e IR/UV) is required as this allows H-a but nothing beyond this. They also reposition the sensor for sharper images and to retain auto and infinity focus. The automatic sensor-cleaning function is usually retained. If possible they can move the transducer to the filter. It's not guaranteed but almost certainly possible. Maybe 2% of camera models make this impossible. It comes with a 2 year limited warranty (make of that what you will) Once they receive the camera, the turnaround time is usually 1 week
  4. You should check out JTWAstronomy. My D5300 is currently with them for modification. After VAT the price was €177 but you'll also have to add on a bit to post it to them too too (they're based in Amsterdam). Cost me about another £15 to post it to them, the price above includes return delivery. The guys name is Mark, if you drop him an email he can send you a PayPal invoice. I was in the same boat as you and also phoned ACS but was put off by the price (I was only willing to spend £150, £200 at the very most). Mine is due back this Thursday but it will probably be another week or two before I can test it, so unfortunately I can't comment on their QA, but based on the products they do they seem to be a pretty professional outfit.
  5. September 10, 2017: 28-pane, waning gibbous moon mosaic

    Hi Michael Clicking on the image doesn't bring up the full res version. At least it's not working for me, perhaps it is for others? ps - You might want to look into a great program called MoonPanoramaMaker for taking lunar mosaics. With the FOV of the 178MM you could have captured your mosaic in just 15 panels rather than 28, so I suspect you used an excessive amount of overlap (e.g 40% instead of about 25% which is easy with MPM). Great image btw!
  6. Ahh, i see, i feel stupid now that i hear it said out loud, lol. This makes total sense now. Thanks for the explanation Louis!
  7. Lunar Imaging Book?

    Hi Fozzie Can I ask you for your thoughts on ‘Shoot the Moon’ please? Basically, I’m interested in doing high-resolution lunar images and mosaics, and I’m already at the point of being able to produce decent results (see link below), but I’m on the lookout for a really detailed book on capture & processing (e.g something akin to the new PixInsight book, only for the moon). Do you think ‘Shoot the Moon’ would be of any use to me? Most likely the first half of the book might not be of much use, but does it contain any detailed processing guides or workflows, such as those found in books such as The Deep Sky Imaging Primer? Thanks in advance!
  8. Hi Louis I went back and looked at the .txt files from the Firecapture recordings, as they tell you what the avg Histogram level was. They ranged from about 50% up to the highest which was 93%. Interestingly though, the highest wasn’t the panel with the blown-out areas at the 1:30 position (I think it only had a level of about 75% so I’m surprised it ended up being so over-exposed). No it was the panel with the ejecta at the 11 o’clock position that had the 93% Histogram, yet when processed properly it actually doesn’t get blown-out (like you say I’ve managed this much better now, but I’ve still clipped it slightly, deliberately, just to bring the overall brightness level up). But no amount of processing can help with the 1:30 tile, it was way over-exposed to begin with somehow. So I’m a bit confused! Your point about HDR imaging is interesting, I hadn’t actually considered that. My thought process (based on what I had researched) was basically, find the brightest area of the moon and set the exposure/gain such that it gives an avg histogram level of about 60-70% (which should still leave enough head-room during post-processing to avoid clipping), then don’t change it throughout the whole recording process, otherwise you could end up with uneven brightness levels across panels. But maybe modern processing techniques can deal with this ok, I’m just not sure tbh. I would love to find a really detailed, modern, guide to doing high resolution lunar mosaics, from acquisition right through to PP, but if there’s one out there then I haven’t found it! I see there’s a book called ‘Shoot the Moon’ on Amazon, I might take a punt on it and see if it’s any good. As for the camera itself, it’s a mono cam. It always captures in mono mode so there’s no mucking about with debayering or white balance settings. It’s my first mono camera (and first of any kind that’s not a DSLR) so I’m new to all of this, but I would have thought that having the Red filter on there would still have resulted in Red captures. After all, that’s how the advanced imagers all do their work, with mono cams and filters, so what gives? I think I’ll drop the previous owner a quick email and see if he can think of anything.
  9. Ok made a few final tweaks, this time i really do think i'm done I fixed up the top portion a bit more, brought out a bit more detail towards the left of centre, and reduced the overall brightness as i had clipped quite a few areas without realising at the time. C&C most welcome. This was my first (hopefully of many) Lunar Mosaic attempts, so i'm looking for ways to improve for the next one. Quick question, i used a 23A red filter when taking the videos, but when i view them (in SER Viewer) and also when i processed them in AS3!, they show up as grayscale. Anyone have any idea as to why?
  10. Thanks Louis! Yes I agree, post processing is half the battle in this game :-)
  11. Louis, thank you for bringing this to my attention! My initial reaction was that the top section would obviously have less contrast than the bottom, being more illuminated, but on closer inspection you are absolutely right, the processing was not consistent throughout (i don't have any DSLR photos as a comparison, i just meant that being a webcam it is just more suitable for the task in hand). So i went back to the drawing board and had another go. This time, i used Deconvolution on each individual panel (some several times over), rather than doing it on the whole mosaic. The Deconvolution worked so well (and kept the noise down amazingly well) that i didn't bother using Registax6 at all. In fact, from now on i think i'll stick solely to Deconvolution and avoid Regi alltogether. Oh, i also cropped each pane this time before putting them into MS ICE, and this really helped it to stitch them together so much better than before (i couldn't find any seams this time). New version attached below:
  12. So after waiting for what seemed like an eternity, I finally got around to trying my hand at a lunar mosaic. A few months back, I picked up a (new to me) IDS camera cheaply on the 2nd hand market, and last Thursday (Aug 31st) I finally got my chance to put it through it's paces. I used the C8 at it’s native focal length of 2032mm. The camera was an IDS-UI-6250SE-M/C GigE Mono camera, which uses a Sony ICX274 sensor (1600 x 1200, 4.4um, Global Shutter). So the resolution was just 0.45” (next time I might try using a x1.5 Barlow). I also used a basic cheap Wratten 23A red filter to help with the seeing somewhat (although with the moon being at just 10-15 degrees altitude I was also having to look through a ton of atmospheric murk!). I picked the camera up for just £100, purely for Lunar work, and for the price I’d say I’m more than happy with it. It’s main drawback is the low fps (it can only manage 11 fps in 8 bit mode, and half that in 12 bit mode, crazy low by today’s standards!), but at least it’s a step up from my DSLR, and in any case I can just take longer captures to compensate, and having a Global Shutter should help as well. At some point in the future I'd like to get an ASI 178MM, but for now though I’m happy to just get my feet wet with this little guy. So the main objective of the night was just to see if I could get all the software working ok, manage to set the exposure right and capture all the panels without missing any sections. I’m not sure how I did as regards the exposure (think the histogram was in the 50-60% range in FC, but I still ended up with overexposed areas), but at least the software side of things all went ok. So this is a mosaic of 15 panels, captured with MoonPanoramaMaker (via Firecapture). The last 2 panels were captured as the moon was disappearing behind the neighbour’s roof, so I only had about 500 and 200 frames to work with on those. Just glad I managed to get something at all really, as it would have been very annoying to end up with a missing piece! So due to the time constraints, I had to limit each tile to just 2 mins worth, so I chose the 8 bit mode in order to keep the number of frames up. In future I will use the 12 bit mode and just capture for longer. So each tile was just approx. 1,200 frames, from which I stacked the best 150 in Autostakkert3! I ran Maxim’s Deconvolution routine on each tile, then stitched them together using Microsot I.C.E. Then applied Wavelets in Registax6, followed by some final tweaks in Photoshop. Due to the low number of frames it’s no surprise that it’s a bit noisy in places (I also probably pushed the sharpening a bit too far tbh). Also MS ICE couldn’t hide a few of the seams so I had to use some elbow grease to try and fix them (they still don’t look great). Overall though I’m happy with how the test run went. Next time I should be a lot faster at setting up, polar aligning, focusing, using the software etc, so hopefully I can get longer captures to end up with a proper big mosaic that I can print off at a decent size. Clear skies all!
  13. Andromeda with Star 71 and 100D

    Very nice Tim! ps - Seeing as you are also a PS guy, you should try out Filter->Camera Raw, then crank up the Color Noise Reduction slider. You'll be amazed at how well it eliminates the dastardly DSLR colour noise :-)
  14. Thanks Mike. I did admittedly go a bit nuts on the colours, just for fun mostly! ps - Your Omega Centauri image literally caused my jaw to hit the floor when i saw it the other day! So. Many. Stars. !!!
  15. The last time i'd done any imaging was way back in January, so i was itching to get back out. Plus, i now had a new imaging laptop so i really needed to test out all the software under the stars, so a few weeks back we had a clear night forecast and i thought, what the heck, let's set everything up and get to testing. Our inner city backyard is tiny, and pretty much the only target that was in my small North-facing FOV was the Pacman Nebula, so i fired up SGP and off I went. PA via Sharpcap was a first for me, and a pleasant one at that. Managed to get it dialled in nice and easy first time. That, along with the new Rowan Belt Mod, gave me the best guiding in PHD2 i've ever seen, between 0.5-0.6". Platesolving in SGP went great, as did manual rotation. Focusing took ages, but that's a story for another day. By this stage though it was already quite late, and there was only 1 hour of Astro Dark in total on this particular night, and it was already half gone, so i only managed to capture 9 subs of 8 mins each. I did actually get 3 more, but the sky was so blue by that stage they were unuseable. This was only meant to be a test run, so i was honestly not expecting to keep the files, but i was really surprised at what the unmodded D5300 was able to pick up using a LPF from inside a city. Of course, the image contains a thousand sins, to be expected i suppose under the circumstances, but for a modest imager like myself i'll take whatever i can get! lol A target such as this obviously needs a modified camera, and up to now i've been reluctant to even bother trying Ha rich targets without a modified camera, but the D5300 has impressed me so much i think i will now have a go at another target (probably NGC 7000) the next time i get a chance. Nothing ventured nothing gained! Clear skies all! ps - This is 9 subs (8 mins each) at ISO 200, calibrated with a Master Bias (from about 300 or so) and a Master Flat (from about 30). No Darks used. All subs dithered highly, captured with SGPro, stacked in DSS (which still eliminated a couple of satellite trails despite only having 9 subs to work with), gradient reduction done in PI L.E, and final processing done in PS. pps - For those looking to upgrade their capture machine, i can totally recommend a Lenovo X230 laptop. They are a dime a dozen (due to the business and student markets) so you can pick up a refurbished one on the cheap. I paid £150 for mine. It has 3 USB slots (2 of which are USB3.0 so is even good for planetary), has 8GB of RAM, an i5 processor, great battery life, and my one even came with a 180GB SSD. Some improvement over the pathetic Samsung N220 Netbook i was using before!