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After a 20 year long hiatus - my last astrophoto was captured with a film camera in 1997 - at the beginning of 2020 I decided it was time to start again.
So, January 25th 2020 I brought home my used Sky-Watcher NEQ6 Pro and I immediately started taking photos. Obviously, my first target was M42 in Orion.
This was my first digital astrophotography. 31 subframes, 30s each, taken at ISO800 with my unmodified Nikon D90, Nikkor 70-300mm at 300mm f/6.3 - January 28th, 2020, home front yard, Bortle 5/6 sky, no guiding, no filters. A grand total of 15.5 minutes...
A couple of weeks later, me and my wife went to spend Valentine's weekend in the mountains. Of course I couldn't avoid taking advantage of the Bortle 4 sky and I took all my gear with me. Same target, 52 subframes, 45s each, taken at ISO800 with my unmodified Nikon D90, Nikkor 70-300mm at 300m f/5.6 - February 14th, 2020, Tonadico, Bortle 4 sky, no guiding, no filters. 39 minutes total integration.
After I finished post-processing the second photograph, I was so happy with the result. It felt amazing that I was able to capture so many details and more nebulosity compared to the photo taken from home.
Months passed, gear was changed. First one being the camera: at the end of February I bought a Nikon D5300 and a couple of months later I astromodified it on my own, adding a UV/IR cut filter in front of the sensor, after cutting it to size.
In October the rest of the setup finally arrived: Tecnosky 80/480 APO FPL53 Triplet OWL Series imaging telescope, Artesky UltraGuide 60mm f/4 guide scope and ZWO ASI 224MC guide camera. Also, an Optolong L-Pro 2" light pollution filter.
After months of imaging and getting more experienced with PixInsight, it was just a matter of waiting before I could have another go at one of my favorite targets. And maybe give it a little more justice.
This project took me more than a month, due to the rare clear nights opportunities I have had here lately.
I started acquiring in January and finished a couple of weeks ago.
M42 taken over 8 nights, under my Bortle 5/6 sky.
Total integration time: 18h 04m 00s for the nebula. 714s (14s subs) + 2065s (35s subs) for the Trapezium and the core.
Here are the acquisition details:
Mount: Sky-Watcher NEQ6 Pro
Telescope: Tecnosky 80/480 APO FPL53 Triplet OWL Series
Camera: D5300 astromodified
Reducer/flattener: Tecnosky 4 elements, 0.8x
Guide-scope: Artesky UltraGuide 60mm f/4
Guide-camera: ZWO ASI 224MC
2021/01/12: Number of subs/Exposure time: 33@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, no Moon
2021/01/13: Number of subs/Exposure time: 33@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, no Moon
2021/01/15: Number of subs/Exposure time: 38@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, Moon 8% illuminated
2021/01/18: Number of subs/Exposure time: 36@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, Moon 30% illuminated
2021/02/13: Number of subs/Exposure time: 30@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, Moon 4% illuminated
2021/02/14: Number of subs/Exposure time: 23@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, Moon 9% illuminated
2021/02/15: Number of subs/Exposure time: 51@14s + 48@35s. Notes: L-Pro filter, Moon 15% illuminated
2021/02/17: Number of subs/Exposure time: 11@35s + 38@180s + 1@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, Moon 30% illuminated
Total exposure time (main integration): 65040s = 18h 04m 00s.
Total exposure time (35s integration): 2065s.
Total exposure time (14s integration): 714s.
Pre and post-processing: PixInsight 1.8.8-7.
Full HDR Version:
Masked Stretch Version:
Blended Version (50% HDR + 50% Masked Stretch):
To my personal taste, I like the blended version the most. I think it brings out the best of both worlds (HDR and soft, less contrasty but more colorful look).
I must say, I am very pleased and happy with the result. Not to boast, but I think I have come a long way since I started.
Obviously the better gear and the much, much longer integration time helped.
I think I actually spent more time post-processing it than acquiring it. Especially since I had to do the work almost twice: I post-processed the HDR and the Masked Stretch images separately, making sure I used the same processes and with the same strenght in both, so that I could combine them effectively, if I decided I didn’t like the look of the HDR alone. I also think I managed to tame the stars a lot more, compared to my previous post-processing attempts.
As usual, here’s a link to the full resolution image(s): Orion Nebula (M42), De Mairan’s Nebula (M43) and Running Man (NGC 1977)
Thanks for looking!
Thinking of getting the Asiair pro whenever they come back into stock but wondered about the voltage output for dslr, it states that it’s12v but would that not need to be stepped down to 7.5v for dslr.
im wondering if the Pegasus power box micro with Stellarmate might be a better option as the dedicated power box is controllable.
I tried Ekos a couple of years back and had nothing but problems but tried again last night and was amazed at how slick it was, best guiding and first time plate-solvingwas effortless.
I have the original zwo 120mm so reluctant to get a new one unless I have too. Has anybody been using the new advanced or micro power boxes either stellarmate?
Hello all. I’ve tried a few times in the last month to image Mars but have had very little success. Although a decent size, Mars is very blurry and wobbly. I am fairly new to the hobby, but I would say it appears to be poor seeing conditions.
I am using a Celestron 6SE and Canon 600D. I have tried 2x and 3x Barlow. I focus using a bahtinov mask (on stars). I used movie crop mode on various ISOs and exposures, stacking at least 3000 frames (keeping the best 1%, 2%, 5%, etc).
Is Mars too far away now? Or am I underestimating how rarely you get a night of good seeing? How do you find out when the best seeing will be?
I've just had a Canon EOS 250d modified by Juan, IR filter off and shim to restore focal plane. He previously did the same for a 100d which got me going in the hobby. Juan is willing and able to take on successive generations of camera. I prefer to rely on Juan's experience for this task, despite me being an optics specialist professionally. The cost of the camera and Juan's conversion service together are a bargain and I trust him with a new camera.
I like to use this type of imager over the specialist cameras because they are the result of Canon's massive R&D capability and bundle together all these functions: battery, an up to date sensor chip, the on-board software, on-board storage, built-in display, easy-fit Astronomik filter. In the case of the 250d, that very important tiltable display so you don't have to crawl around on the wet lawn to see it. The only thing they don't have is an easily-implemented thermo-electric cooling. But I've got a long way to go in astro-imaging before I care about noise that much (though I'd like to cool, and understand what can be achieved, I use stacking averaging in the meantime to go part way in that respect).
The dslr is my one imager for three rigs, the most notable being that it's lightweight enough to go on my Omegon clockwork mount.
On my heftier rig, I do have an Altair camera with a Sony back-lit chip but only use it for tracking with a wireless-controlled Stellarmate setup, having got fed up with all the cables and tablet pc with memory dangling off it.
Firstly apologies if this is in the wrong section (this is my first post on any kind of forum!) and I'm aware its a question thats probably been asked thousands of times. Please let me know if I should post elsewhere or anything...
So I've made some progress with astrophotography but as much as I try I get so confused with lenses and the specifics so thought I'd ask people who understand them more. My setup so far is a Canon EOS 550d, with a 70-300mm f4-5.6 lens all on a Star Adventurer pro tracker (recently upgraded from an Omegon LX3 mini track). The camera and lens were both second hand and passed down to me so I dont really know how old they are now but I've been getting good results so far (uploaded one of my recent images, still using the minitrack for reference)
Basically I dont know if I'm better off upgrading the camera and sticking with the telephoto lens (from what I can find its a good lens), or would changing to a small telescope be better. If I was to, from what I've found the Sharpstar 61EDPH II would be a good choice?
I've researched a lot and just dont understand the technical side enough to know where I'm better off putting my money. My budget would be around £1000, maybe slightly more for a camera as I do use it for other photography too. Any advice would be very appreciated, sorry for the long post!