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  1. Thanks. I don't think I used the autosave file, I just clicked the button in SharpCap to export a 32-bit FITS. Is that not what I should be doing? From what I understand when you export the FITS in SharpCap it doesn't include any of the stretching. I used SharpCap to do the stacking live, I didn't use DSS for this image.
  2. I had some time and decent weather last night to get back out and take another "whirl" at M51 (sorry). This time I did 557 frames @ 10 seconds, so about 1.5 hours of total integration time. Quite a bit more than the 6 minutes last time! I couldn't do more than 10 seconds, M51s location in my sky yielded too much field rotation at anything longer. I still haven't done any dark frame subtraction because I found out in the process that's only a feature of the pro version of SharpCap, so I'll need to decide if I want to invest in the full version. I did however save each individual frame this time so I could try using DSS with my dark frames. I again used StarTools but this time didn't have any of the RGB noise with AutoDev, so it must be all the additional light frames helped in that regard. Although, I still liked the result using the manual Dev so I used that again anyway. Overall I'm pretty happy! I'm sure there's still a long way to go, but I like the progress so far. First attempt back in April without RGB noise after suggestions here: Last nights attempt:
  3. I agree, as I'm just getting into this it's all so fascinating and I can't help but jump around to see what else is out there. As I settle down and figure out how best to manage my limited time I know I'll focus more on specific targets and squeeze a little more data out of each session. You all have been incredibly helpful, this forum is great. This is a hobby with a very steep learning curve and all the help just in this thread alone has been invaluable. And thanks @bottletopburly for running my image through ST, looks great, much less noisy than 2nd attempt.
  4. Thanks again, very helpful. My setup is listed in my original post. Pretty basic, just the stock AltAz mount without guiding. So I'm limited to 15, maybe 20 seconds of exposure depending on where in the sky I'm pointed. Thanks for doing a quick processing on my image, it helps me know if I'm even in the ballpark or not. Seems like my latest attempt was OK given my source data. The next time I'm out I'll go for more subs and maybe push the exposure from 10 to 15-20 seconds. I also built up a decent library of dark images at the end of this session. They aren't used in this image because as far as I can tell you need to specify the dark file during the SharpCap live stack, but I'll try adding them next time.
  5. Thanks guys. Wim, I'll keep that in mind the next time I'm out. I was hopping from object to object snapping frames. I'll focus on one for longer next time and really try to capture a lot of light. After a while I wasn't seeing any improvement in the live stack so I stopped collecting, but it's probably that the extra data would come to life in the post-processing Spillage, I took your advice and it seems to have really helped, see below. There's still some noise but it's nothing like what it was before. Probably a combination of your processing techniques and capturing more data will yield a pretty decent result. Do you ever use the AutoDev feature? I think all guides I've read for StarTools show using it over the standard Dev tool but from what I can tell the results seem lackluster or at least inconsistent. I used it when processing a M42 stack and it worked pretty well. Although, now I'm inclined to reprocess it with your method and see if I can eek out a better image.
  6. I first posted this on the StarTools forum earlier this week but haven't gotten any responses, so I'm trying here... I'm starting to get more into imaging and have been trying to learn more about post processing methods. I'm following this guide: http://astro.ecuadors.net/processing-a-noisy-dslr-image-stack-with-startools/ But I'm finding after the initial AutoDev (and amplified by the wipe module) I'm getting significant RGB noise I can't get rid of it even after I finish the process outlined in article. Does anyone know what might be going on here? My original capture was with a NexStar 6se, 0.5x FR, and ASI224MC. I used SharpCap to do the capture and stacking and I exported a 32-bit FITS without any stretching which I'm putting directly into StarTools. 10s subs x 37 frames. 350 gain. I did not use any dark or flat frames, which might be part of the issue. I'm including the images below. Thanks! Noisy image: Original: Original FITS: http://toddnelson.net/misc/astro/rgbnoise-orig.fits
  7. I got out for a few hours last night and stuck with an easier target, M42, see attached. I think it's OK for a first attempt. I followed that guide, it was a great help. I'm surprised I was able to get as much as I did in my field of view with such a small sensor. I'm pushing that 0.5x focal reducer a little further than spec, but I haven't measured the actual reduction. I played around a lot with the settings. This was the best result and according to the sharpcap exported settings file I shot 182 frames at about 1/3s exposure and a gain of 475. I didn't do any darks/flats, I'll venture into that next time. I doubt stacking that many frames added much benefit, the improvements seemed to taper off much before that. My biggest issue was just finding targets, my alignment wasn't great so I was doing a lot of hunting. I bumped the scope after alignment and should have realigned but didn't. If anyone has any suggestions for improvement I'm all ears.
  8. Btw, roelb and Curtis, excellent pics! It's nice to know what I should expect to see after a lot of practice.
  9. Excellent information everyone. I was going to head out tonight and use the new setup for the first time but clouds have been rolling in. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime I've been trying the familiarize myself with SharpCap as I think the software alone will have a steep a learning curve as the gear/optics. Hopefully that will mean less fumbling around in the dark. I was looking for intro tutorial videos on using SC for EAA/stacking and came across this one. But it seems a little more geared toward video cameras, not USB. But maybe that's not critical, probably just setting the gain and whatnot is different. If anyone knows of a better resource I'd be happy to take a look. Thanks again everyone!
  10. Hey looks like this thread finally took off. Thanks for the the input everyone. I did wind up ordering the 224 and a GSO 0.5x FR (before I read howies comment). It seemed to have decent reviews and I wasn't able to find anything else. I'll keep my eye on the 2nd hand market for a mallincam. Were you referring to their standard 0.5x 1.25" FR that's only about $50 retail or the much more expensive MFR 5 II? I'll definitely report back with how it goes.
  11. Hi there, thanks for the honest response and the thoroughness. I see what you're saying about this setup not being ideal, I'm sure it won't be the last scope I own but at least at the time seemed like a good starting point without investing a whole lot to see if I enjoyed the hobby. In the time since I created this thread I think I've landed on the ASI224, from what I can tell it's a decent entry level camera that won't break the bank and I can always use it down the road for guiding as you point out. I think I'll pick up a 0.5x focal reducer to try and squeeze even more FOV and speed the scope up to f/5. They're also pretty inexpensive compared to the SCT reducers and should allow me to get my feet wet with EAA without over investing in this setup as you suggest.
  12. Hi everyone, I've only recently gotten into astronomy and have learned a lot from this forum so far. I have a Celestron Nexstar 6se on it's stock AltAz mount. Given my techie background, desire to automate (and probable laziness!) I think that EAA for instant gratification and sharing the hobby with friends and family is a good fit for me. I'd also like to be able to record frames as I'm viewing "live" for later post-processing for even greater results. At this point I'm looking for suggestions on a camera to use with my scope to hopefully reach my goals. I realize there's no one size fits all in this hobby, but a combination that can provide decent results that I won't immediately outgrow would be ideal. My interest would be planetary/lunar and DSO. I see myself spending more time on DSO as I grow. My primary viewing location is my house in suburban North Carolina. From the research I've done so far I've come up with these contenders: - ZWO ASI224MC (everyone seems to love this cam, great for planetary, but small resolution/chip for DSO) - ZWO ASI178MC (seen some claims that the pixel size is too small for my SCT @ f/10. Would a f/6.3 FR help enough? Slightly larger sensor is more appealing to me for DSO.) - ZWO ASI174MC (largest chip out of the lot) - ZWO ASI290MC - Or another camera that's recommended in this price range, I'm not married to ZWO, they just seem to have come up frequently in my research. I'm also thinking I should use the Celestron f/6.3 focal reducer for DSO regardless of the camera for a wider FOV and to speed up the scope, do you all agree? AFAIK that's the only focal reducer for this scope, otherwise I'd probably go further. Final question, should I put much weight on cooling? That seems to about double the price tag for what is essentially a heat sink and a fan. Can that be retrofitted later if I find it necessary? My apologies if this question has been asked before. I found a lot of information but it seems to be very specific to the hardware you already have so I wanted to be sure to get opinions specific to a 6se scope. The tech also seems to be changing rapidly so wanted to get the latest information. Thanks for any help!
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