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M31 - Andromeda | First DSO attempt


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Hi all,

I've been sitting on a HEQ5 and 130P-DS for a couple of months now, the cloud teasing me since I purchased them off a couple of people on this forum!

In the meantime I've been reading up on DSO imaging, performing dry runs and getting to know my mount, albeit indoors.

Finally this week we have had beautiful clear skies here. I spent a few hours on Tuesday working out setting it up and getting the goto and tracking working.

Last night I spent a few hours taking images. I don't know why I chose M31 as my first DSO target, it sort of just caught my eye in Stellarium :grin:

So I took some images, deciding on 120s exposures (un-guided). The flats didn't quite work out how I had planned, so this is just lights and darks. its around 40 minutes of total exposure after throwaways.

Stacked in DSS and messed around in photoshop

post-11689-0-33557100-1406229970_thumb.j

22x120s lights

10x120s darks

ISO 800

SW130p-DS, HEQ5, Canon 1100D

This was my first DSO image, and I'm sure my processing is likely to be off and open to lots of improvement over the next few years, but I am VERY happy with the result so far.

I also have a mpcc coma corrector that I didn't use, trying to get used to the workings first before I add that into the mix.

Of course any tips and instructions on how to improve the image are welcome, especially if they tell me how to remove the orange glow to the right of the image :smiley:

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Your well on the road to some good Astrophotography, Keep at it ,

we have all been through this stage, when you first start off its a lot to

take in,

Im pretty sure that if we had good weather more often in the UK we would learn the dark art of Astrophotography a lot quicker.

Try a slightly different target that's higher up in the sky this will help with back ground darkness and gradients.

well done

Paul

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Brilliant, congratulations!

That thrill of seeing something on screen that resembles what you were trying to photograph is dangerously addictive, beware! However, it's a great thrill, so enjoy. Yes, of course this image can be improved - A.G. has made some useful tweaks there (AG, why don't you share the steps you took to improve the image for RobP?!). It's a fab start, those are dust lanes emerging, that's our nearest neighbour galaxy, it's stunning isn't it and when you think how damn far away it is and how ginormous it is and you took that picture of it....

Oh yes, I love AP too!

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Brilliant, congratulations!

That thrill of seeing something on screen that resembles what you were trying to photograph is dangerously addictive, beware! However, it's a great thrill, so enjoy. Yes, of course this image can be improved - A.G. has made some useful tweaks there (AG, why don't you share the steps you took to improve the image for RobP?!). It's a fab start, those are dust lanes emerging, that's our nearest neighbour galaxy, it's stunning isn't it and when you think how damn far away it is and how ginormous it is and you took that picture of it....

Oh yes, I love AP too!

Hi,

I just gave it a two passes of Gradient Xterminator, after masking the main body of the galaxy, M110 amd M32 off. The first pass was with a large feather  with a coarse_high settings and the second pass was with a smaller mask with a small feather, 1 pix, and a fine _medium setting, then a little curve and levels to set the back ground value. I tried to get some red out of it but that channel is a little weak so I left it alone. It is a good capture as it does show  some structure and the core is not blown out, though it could have done with some HDR treatment to the core during the initial processing but no  way with a copy of a Jpeg. Hope this helps.

Regards,

A.G

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Thanks all for your very kind replies.

Ultranova - Good point regarding the location in the sky. I attempted M27 last night and it is looking more promising.

PhotoGav - It is a stunning target, but then most things in the night sky are  :grin:. Its surprising how much detail modern AP equipment can get even with a tight budget.

Lensman57 - Many thanks for your efforts and explanation, you manage to improve on my resized and compressed Jpeg! It shows there is still work to be done on this data as my processing skills improve.

I have managed to locate a tutorial for removing the glow myself in PS but Gradient Xterminator is something I have seen mentioned a lot. I may look into purchasing that in the future. I have one question, what does HDR stand for so I can go and have a look into how to do it?

 
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Thanks PhotoGav. I did get 25x60s exposures that I didn't include in the processing. I assume these would be better for the core of the Galaxy?

I have just read about how to add them into the process routine on DSS using groups. I wonder if it will be better to process each stack separately and combine together in Photoshop or combine both in DSS at the same time? I'll give both a try and see how I get on :grin:

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Thanks all for your very kind replies.

Ultranova - Good point regarding the location in the sky. I attempted M27 last night and it is looking more promising.

PhotoGav - It is a stunning target, but then most things in the night sky are  :grin:. Its surprising how much detail modern AP equipment can get even with a tight budget.

Lensman57 - Many thanks for your efforts and explanation, you manage to improve on my resized and compressed Jpeg! It shows there is still work to be done on this data as my processing skills improve.

I have managed to locate a tutorial for removing the glow myself in PS but Gradient Xterminator is something I have seen mentioned a lot. I may look into purchasing that in the future. I have one question, what does HDR stand for so I can go and have a look into how to do it?

 

Hi,

Gav is totally correct in his explanation of the HDR so far as PS is concerned, however more sophisticated ( AP orientated) software such as  Pixinsight or StarTools apply HDR to the raw data in wavelets which is a little more advanced and actually easier  than layering in PS but they all work and they are all fine so long as they have been taken in moderation, like whiskey or religion. 

A.G

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Thanks Greenkat, your image looks very good as well :smiley:

I've been learning, processing and reprocessing the data. I also added in some extra data I captured Friday night.

I'll upload an improved picture later (once I finish messing around with the processing lol).

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To echo Peter and others, a tremendous start.  My first DSO with my 1100D wasn't in focus, yet you've cracked it at first attempt.  Keep going and use the forum for constructive feedback, there are plenty of web tutorials for processing, and folk on here are happy to help.

Barry

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Cheers Barry. I must admit I learned a lot doing planetary and moon photography so was able to carry that over to DSO's.

I reached a plateau on where processing the data doesn't really improve on my favorite images much so I'm calling it a day for a while :smiley:

I added in a further hour of Data from another day, I can't wait to give this target a go in a dark sky!

The first image I seem to have lost a lot of color information, the second image seems a little bit more natural although a lot of cores I've seen seem to be yellow, not sure how mine turned out blue lol.

post-11689-0-70743700-1406579240_thumb.j

post-11689-0-67607300-1406579258_thumb.j

Many thanks for all your comments and help, clear skies :cool:

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