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JGM1971

The "No EQ" DSO Challenge!

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I'm a SW to W and it is rather lens dull right now, I don't keep the ST80 here and the heritage and dslr may be pushing the mount weight too far, I like the mount too much.

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I'm being lazy and staying close to the house (as I've just invested in a 5m cable that means I can control the camera from my laptop in the comfort of an armchair inside the conservatory). It means I'm limited to a NW to S vista but that means plenty of clusters at the moment plus the galaxies in Virgo, Canes Venatici and Ursa Major. It won't be too long until the summer nebula rise high enough. The North America Nebula is my next target but it's probably 4 weeks away from being high enough at a reasonable time.

In the meantime, I managed to get some more subs on M13. After processing and re-processing, I finally tried stacking without flats, darks and bias and I think the image is actually better. I guess the temperature is changing too fast for darks to work effectively. Anyway, I'm pleased this has improved since my first try. And I can just make out IC4617 along with NGC6207. At 15.2, I didn't think I'd capture that in 45 seconds with my light polluted skies. They aren't as clear as Ian's, but I'm going to claim that's because of the aperture advantage!

35 x 45sec ISO1600 subs, stacked in DSS with no flats, darks or bias. Cropped then adjusted with levels and curves in Photoshop. Not had chance to make final tweaks in Lightroom (which I think is a much better package for those final finishing touches). It's with the Esprit 80ED on the Evo mount. I'm hoping tonight is calm enough to train the 9.25 SCT on M13 tonight to see what it can capture (probably only with 15 second subs).

large.5728ebb35f684_20160503M13.jpg

Edited by Filroden
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Ooh, I don't know about that, it's a very nice detailed image. Mine does come courtesy of the smoke 'n' mirrors that is Startools :icon_biggrin:.  It'll be interesting to see how you get on with the 9.25.

If I had your arrangement I'd be asleep before the evening's out! What I do find tiring is all the waiting.

Ian

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1 minute ago, The Admiral said:

Ooh, I don't know about that, it's a very nice detailed image. Mine does come courtesy of the smoke 'n' mirrors that is Startools :icon_biggrin:.  It'll be interesting to see how you get on with the 9.25.

If I had your arrangement I'd be asleep before the evening's out! What I do find tiring is all the waiting.

Ian

I tried Startools but just didn't have a clue what it was doing. I couldn't find anyway to actually stretch the image (auto develop just made the image terrible) whereas I know Lightroom inside out so it wasn't too much to get the basics of Photoshop down. I still need to learn how to boost contrast and control noise before I move into masks, etc. I also like that I can do everything step by step and, using layers, compare the steps to see if I like it. It's a lot like going to the opticians - does it look better with or without the flat piece of glass in front of your eye? - eventually I can't tell if the image is getting better or worse and I start over.

Using the conservatory has been so good over the last month. I would otherwise have to set the camera running using BackyardEOS and then retreat to the house - checking back every 5 minutes or so to review the subs and make sure tracking was ok. Also, where I set up now is sheltered on three sides from the wind whereas the other end of the garden is more exposed (but gets reasonable views from W through to S above 15deg alt).

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1 hour ago, The Admiral said:

 I think Nige must work through 'til dawn though!

 

Tonight's forecast is for clear sky's,  I have a plan, I'm going to concentrate on one bunch of targets in that amazing Virgo galaxy cluster, I will try to centre NGC 4438 in the frame.

I've got the bug, I'll be out until about 2am ☺ Next few nights are looking ok, I've just got over a cold and eager to get clicking, I also have a few mornings which I don't need to get up early, so definitely some very late ones coming up. ?2 weeks time I'm sailing up to West coast Scotland, shame I can't set up on the yacht as twill be all nighters, will have best bins with me though. During  the summer months I get used to lack of sleep and being up all night sailing, I tend to wind the work down too having at least 2 months off in total. 

Summer I would choose to sleep day time if people would let me fit there bathrooms over night hehehe. 

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That's a nice clear image Ken, I have never tried stacking without darks or bias, I'm going to try that, see how it turns out. 

I have a South facing garden with good views from ESE to SW. I also control from armchair in my conservatory the Area 79 observatory ?,  named because of all the rocket making and testing that has gone on in past years. ☺

Nige. 

Edited by Nigel G
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1 minute ago, Nigel G said:

That's a nice clear image Ken, I have never tried stacking without darks or bias, I'm going to try that, see how it turns out. 

Nige. 

I checked my subs and my camera went from 27*C down to 16*C over 30 minutes, which probably explains why the darks didn't work last night. I probably need to wait longer before imaging. I find the camera settles at about 16-17*C.

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27 minutes ago, Nigel G said:

Tonight's forecast is for clear sky's,  I have a plan, I'm going to concentrate on one bunch of targets in that amazing Virgo galaxy cluster, I will try to centre NGC 4438 in the frame.

Snap!! Makarian's Chain is my next target, so good luck with that, though I think you may well beat me to it as there are some cloud banks around, and probably high cirrus. Forecasts aren't good until well past midnight here. The clouds may melt away, but, if I can't make a start before 10.00pm I shall call it a night. I really want to be in bed by mid-night. Cinders or what? Where's me slippers!

Ian

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1 hour ago, Filroden said:

I tried Startools but just didn't have a clue what it was doing. I couldn't find anyway to actually stretch the image (auto develop just made the image terrible) whereas I know Lightroom inside out so it wasn't too much to get the basics of Photoshop down. I still need to learn how to boost contrast and control noise before I move into masks, etc. I also like that I can do everything step by step and, using layers, compare the steps to see if I like it. It's a lot like going to the opticians - does it look better with or without the flat piece of glass in front of your eye? - eventually I can't tell if the image is getting better or worse and I start over.

Using the conservatory has been so good over the last month. I would otherwise have to set the camera running using BackyardEOS and then retreat to the house - checking back every 5 minutes or so to review the subs and make sure tracking was ok. Also, where I set up now is sheltered on three sides from the wind whereas the other end of the garden is more exposed (but gets reasonable views from W through to S above 15deg alt).

You prompted me to have another look at Startools.

I think a solarise filter would have had a similar effect. A visual car-crash.

I think the problem is that each step is carefully explained in terms that are understandable only by someone who knows how to work the program already.

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I don't use autodevelop, prefer to use develop manually. I'm never getting perfect data so don't need reminding of that by autodevelop lol.

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28 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

You prompted me to have another look at Startools.

I think a solarise filter would have had a similar effect. A visual car-crash.

I think the problem is that each step is carefully explained in terms that are understandable only by someone who knows how to work the program already.

But isn't that always the case though Neil, which makes most software fairly impenetrable. And don't get me started on mobile 'phone user guides! I can well understand it when folk favour say, Photoshop or Pixinsight, for their step-wise logic processes, and I'm very much in that camp myself. It's why I opted for Picture Window Pro as my photo editor (far cheaper than PS, and every bit as powerful). When I got Lightroom, I lamented the lack of transparency where each tool did exactly what you expected of it. But after a while, it all becomes second nature. But the more complex the task, the greater the learning curve is with these logical apps. Startools (can) gets you to a good standard of output without a protracted process, but I still can't fathom what's going on! But unlike PI, it's so easy to 'play around' with the settings and see what happens. If you don't like it, cancel it and do it again or something else. I do like to know what each parameter does in each module, so that I can figure out what I need to do. As you say, the 'manual' doesn't help too much there, but I figure that it'll come to me by osmosis. Whichever way one goes, it's never going to be a quick assimilation. Stick with I'd say!

14 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

I don't use autodevelop, prefer to use develop manually. I'm never getting perfect data so don't need reminding of that by autodevelop lol.

I use autodev for the first development, to see where the issues lie and where I might need to crop, but after the wipe I do my re-stretch using develop and push it as far as I feel is right.

Ian

Edit. Have you seen the 'manual for StarTools? If you go to the home page, down the bottom is a link to 'PDF Document'. That takes you to a pdf manual.

Edited by The Admiral

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It was written by a user rather than Ivo I thought, though nothing wrong with that.

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4 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

It was written by a user rather than Ivo I thought, though nothing wrong with that.

There is an 'unofficial' user guide and the one on the ST website, though they are pretty similar. Who wrote them I couldn't say, though the one on the website does look like an offical ST document.

Ian

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Going to bed now,  after 180 lights 50 dark I'm leaving it stacking over night hopefully a good image to work with.  

Zzzzzzzz

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5 hours ago, Nigel G said:

Going to bed now,  after 180 lights 50 dark I'm leaving it stacking over night hopefully a good image to work with.  

Zzzzzzzz

He he wish I had the resources to stay up so late 'erm I mean so early Nige. Looking forward to your images.

Cheers,
Steve

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Morning all, DSS stacked 130 of the 180 frames, I didn't check through the frames I just run them all, might be a gamble, will soon see.

on the individual frames I was picking out up to 10 faint dso's , some will be lost in stacking as they were near the borders. 

Wife just bought tea to me in bed so drink up and get manipulating ☺ I hope it's a fairly good one. Both tea and dso. ☺

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I'm not that happy with this image, I'm going to check through the subs , not sure the flats have helped much, and I think focus is out a little. Still there's a number of dso's visible. But a huge amount of improving to do. It's about time I had a failure though, been lucky in previous images.

Maybe I can get more out of it though, I'll have another try later.

Nige. 

130 x 30s 1600 iso, 50 dark, 20 flat, 50 bias,  150p scope. DSS + StarTools. 

PSX_20160504_101628.jpg

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I'm completely new to this whole thing so I've been a bit hesitant to upload these, but here goes. They're both quite low on frames as I had to throw a bunch in the bin. Both are taken using my dob, Skywatcher Skyliner 200p flex, and Nikon 5300.

M45, Pleiades
6x30s at ISO 800. Stacked in DSS and edited in Photoshop.

Pleiades_Edited.jpg

M13
11x10s at ISO 800 and 11x10s darks. Stacked in DSS and edited in Photoshop.

M13_Edited.jpg

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You've some really nice stars there Wappmupp and a great first try. I think globular clusters and even open clusters by their nature of being points of light can be well imaged with not so many exposures. Sometime I'd like to improve my stars as the telescope I currently have suffers from 'star bloat' a lot but that's ok while I'm learning the ropes. Good luck in your future imaging sessions.

Cheers,
Steve

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6 hours ago, Nigel G said:

I'm not that happy with this image, I'm going to check through the subs , not sure the flats have helped much, and I think focus is out a little. Still there's a number of dso's visible. But a huge amount of improving to do. It's about time I had a failure though, been lucky in previous images.

Maybe I can get more out of it though, I'll have another try later.

Why do you think the focus is out Nige, they look pretty sharp to me? I think you've done pretty well there, they are after all very small galaxies. Was there a thin veil of cirrus cloud whilst you were imaging? There was here, and I didn't bother to try.

Ian

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2 hours ago, Wuppmupp said:

I'm completely new to this whole thing so I've been a bit hesitant to upload these, but here goes. They're both quite low on frames as I had to throw a bunch in the bin. Both are taken using my dob, Skywatcher Skyliner 200p flex, and Nikon 5300.

You shouldn't be bashful, you've made a great start with those. Both have a lot of detail and M45 is showing some nebulosity, which you might be able to enhance further. My only criticism is that on my monitor they both look a bit green; the nebulosity in M45 should if anything be blue. That should be an easy fix in PS. With a 200P you should be able to hoover up the photons at a far greater rate than with my 102mm refractor.

Ian

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2 hours ago, Wuppmupp said:

I'm completely new to this whole thing so I've been a bit hesitant to upload these, but here goes. They're both quite low on frames as I had to throw a bunch in the bin. Both are taken using my dob, Skywatcher Skyliner 200p flex, and Nikon 5300.

M45, Pleiades
6x30s at ISO 800. Stacked in DSS and edited in Photoshop.

M13
11x10s at ISO 800 and 11x10s darks. Stacked in DSS and edited in Photoshop.

 

Both are great. I cannot believe how clear the nebulosity around M4 is with so few subs. I'm so jealous. I must have taken 50-100 subs of M45 and not a whisper. Well done! Likewise, you've got the core of M13 captured - you can see the cross of the propellor (I always think of Star Wars and crossed light sabres rather than a blimp coming towards me with a propellor at its nose).

You must have very dark skies? That will really help you capture detail with short subs. 

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7 hours ago, Nigel G said:

I'm not that happy with this image, I'm going to check through the subs , not sure the flats have helped much, and I think focus is out a little. Still there's a number of dso's visible. But a huge amount of improving to do. It's about time I had a failure though, been lucky in previous images.

Maybe I can get more out of it though, I'll have another try later.

Nige. 

130 x 30s 1600 iso, 50 dark, 20 flat, 50 bias,  150p scope. DSS + StarTools. 

That's a lot of fuzzies you've got there. Don't beat yourself up. Many of those are elliptical galaxies (I think) and therefore less photogenic than their spiral buddies. The spirals I do see are edge on by the looks of it, so again they are being coy with the camera :)

It does look like you've clipped a lot of detail to reduce noise (there is a very blurred background which I guess is the result of noise reduction). I wonder what it would look like with a much lighter and noises background? You can probably then make out a little more detail around the galaxies?

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So might evening didn't go to plan last night. I set up the 9.25SCT so I could see what it could do with M13. I'd checked ahead and it would fit the FOV of the Canon 60D almost perfectly. There was only a very light breeze. However, I must have rejected so many subs. I was sat there with BackyardEOS running, assessing the image quality at between 100% and 325% magnification. It went a little like this - bad, bad, bad, delete, bad, bad, maybe, bad, good, delete, bad, bad, bad, maybe, bad, bad. Almost every sub had something wrong. I threw all the good and maybe candidates into DSS and DSS threw them all back at me. I need to review them individually but I've had this before with the SCT. DSS really doesn't like the images for some reason and I have to really force it to find stars even though I can see dozens (not counting the 200,000 of them in the middle of the frame).

I tried 30 sec, 20 sec, 15 sec and even 8 sec by the end. It just wasn't my night. So I put in the eyepiece and used the old fashioned camera! Great at 24mm. Zoomed in with an 8mm and I could't get a sharp focus. Turns out it was a very clear night but the seeing was terrible. It was like looking through an oil covered window at high magnification.

So here's an image of M5 from earlier in the week that I processed last night instead. 30 x 45 sec lights ISO1600 with no calibration using the Esprit 80. Not as pretty as M13 (in my opinion) but still a wonderful sight! I downloaded the Photoshop plug-in, Hasta La Vista Green, and it really did help my colour balance. I applied it to my earlier M13 and it left me speechless. Lovely little free plug in!

Now I need a plan for tonight's targets. Probably back on M13 to see if I can't reduce the noise further. Maybe another 60 subs at least.

large.572a28421a9ff_20160503M3.jpg

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Hi All,

Last night I attempted taking 60 second exposures of M56 and M57 with my Synscan Alt-Az mount, partly to see if the mount could do it and to try and compare the resulting image of M57 at 60 seconds from one taken in April at 30 seconds. I've never observed or imaged M56 before so it's a nice small globular cluster to add to the astronomy log. All the frames were stacked using DSS and images subsequently processed in StarTools.

The mount proved able to provide images with sixty seconds exposure albeit with different percentages of frames acceptable to use by DSS; for M56 11/11 frames (100%) and for M57 16/29 (55%).

First M56 from x11 light frames at 60 seconds ISO 1600 plus 50 dark frames, x50 flat frames and x60 bias frames. Equipment used, a SKyWatcher Startravel 102mm f/4.9 refractor, Synscan Alt-Az mount and Canon 600D DSLR.

M56SGL.jpg

Secondly M57 from x16 light frames at 60 seconds ISO 1600 plus 50 dark frames, x50 flat frames and x60 bias frames. Equipment used, a SKyWatcher Startravel 102mm f/4.9 refractor, Synscan Alt-Az mount and Canon 600D DSLR.

M57SGL.jpg

And one of M57 taken in April this year using the same equipment, ISO 1600, x50 dark frames, x50 flat frames and x50 bias frames. On this occasion x51 light frames of thirty seconds each were used.

M57SGL.jpg

The sixty second image shows more detail and is sharper despite taking a shorter amount of total exposure. As Ian has pointed out to me in a PM the different star colours in the sixty second image could reflect saturation or perhaps just old StarTools :-)

I would heartily recommend everyone with an Alt-Az mount to try longer exposure frames where the object can take it (field rotation effect) and see what a difference it can make.

Cheers,
Steve

Edited by SteveNickolls
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