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Terrierist

Advice sought, please. New to imaging.

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Dear All.

Thanks for reading this and for any advice given.

Please could I ask the following:

I am a complete newcomer to astronomy, I took some advice from Ed at Harrison Telescopes and purchased a SkyWatcher 127 Mak-Cass with a T Ring to fit my camera, an un-modified Nikon D7500.

I've really enjoyed my limited time with the 'scope and have captured a couple of images of the Orion Nebula (one attached). What else could I capture with this equipment? I've seen the marvellous images posted on this forum and would love to be able to capture something like the Horsehead Nebula, but as a complete Noob, I'm clueless!

I am a fairly competent user of Photoshop and Lightroom, but I read of other imaging software that is aimed at Astro Photography, could someone point these programs out to me, please? 

Where to start?

 

Thanks 

Orion2.jpg

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Welcome and well done, that's a good Orion core!

At the stage you're at, as a complete beginner, the first thing to do is ... Do Your Research!! Have a read of other threads here in the beginners section and absorb the advice given to others, make notes and see which direction you want to go in as astrophotography has many subclasses and specialist areas.... Most people can only afford to specialise in one!

Now as a starting point (others may disagree with me here but...) since you have a Mak, your best bet as a beginner is moon and planets, but since galaxy season is starting now, if you fancy a challenge you could also have a go at stacking some galaxy shots and see how you do at that!!

Best of luck your journey, Art.

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Hi,

And a very warm welcome to SGL.

You've done well with the Orion image, and have picked an ideal target, it is very bright, compact, and easy to photograph with short exposures.  There are a number of other targets like this, including a few of the globular clusters, M13 especially, which will be coming around soon enough.

Are you using a tracking mount? What type is it?

As Art says, the Maks are best suited for lunar and planetary imaging, but give other things a go, the best way to learn is to try everything, the things that don't work make more of an impression than the things that do.

Some of the small bright planetary nebula might be good to try, like M57, M76, M97, and perhaps the Cat's eye nebula

The Horsehead represents much more of a challenge, and usually requires much longer exposures, and taking them at the relatively long focal length of your Mak might be a real test.

To be honest though, I would recommend your next step is a good read, and that would be Steve Richards book "Making every Photon Count"

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html

You really couldn't get better advice, and it will set you up with regard to imaging in the future.

Sounds like you will be having great fun, so welcome to the club!

PS, your Orion is much better than my first images of it :)

Tim

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Not sure if you've heard of the program stellarium but I find it to be a great tool to see what is in the sky. With the built in optics plug-in you can input your telescope specs and camera sensor specs and it will show you your field of view relative to the object you want to image. 

I would highly recommend playing around with that, enter your location and see what is around that might interest you.

 

Cheers

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You might like to read the 'no eq dso challenge' thread to see more about maximising what you do with the equipment you already own whilst researching and deciding what you might do next.

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34 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

You might like to read the 'no eq dso challenge' thread to see more about maximising what you do with the equipment you already own whilst researching and deciding what you might do next.

Sorry to be a numpty, Kat, tried to search this to no avail. Nice Puma!

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I like it too, cheers, been a Puma owner for over 19 years now.

I'll add the link to the thread tomorrow when on PC.

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Welcome! I second the sentiment of doing a bit of boning-up. Astro is a surprisingly complex discipline, there are a lot of moving parts in even a simple setup. Another book that I can highly recommend, if you're interested in objects like M42, is Charles Brackens's Deep-Sky Imaging Primer. Neither book will be exactly cheap in money or time, but getting a good basic grounding is really priceless. You might not feel the need to delve into the analysis of shot noise vs. read noise on your first go-round, but grasping the bones of the basic principles will stand you in very good stead as you learn.

Which software depends a bit on your computing platform. I'm becoming partial to Siril for the first part of processing, but then I'm a Mac and Linux guy. And like you, I tend to do my polishing in Photoshop. Of course, there's also plenty of software for image acquisition, as well as purpose-built astrophotograph processing stuff such as PixInsight. It's a well of time and money every bit as bottomless as the night sky we image. Since Photoshop can do stacking (put images in layers, auto-align, convert to smart object, set stack mode to median) you really can get quite a ways without venturing outside the tools with which you're already familiar.

Briefly put, it's all about hugely amplifying tiny differences in light level and contrast, without introducing absurd amounts of noise in the process. Most people wind up doing a fair bit of pre-processing to stack images for noise reduction, apply calibration frames, and the like, and then "stretch" the result to map a narrow range of tones of interest over the full dynamic range available. Mask to hide, curves to enhance, bash to fit, paint to cover.

Edited by rickwayne

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6 hours ago, rickwayne said:

Welcome! I second the sentiment of doing a bit of boning-up. Astro is a surprisingly complex discipline, there are a lot of moving parts in even a simple setup. Another book that I can highly recommend, if you're interested in objects like M42, is Charles Brackens's Deep-Sky Imaging Primer. Neither book will be exactly cheap in money or time, but getting a good basic grounding is really priceless. You might not feel the need to delve into the analysis of shot noise vs. read noise on your first go-round, but grasping the bones of the basic principles will stand you in very good stead as you learn.

Which software depends a bit on your computing platform. I'm becoming partial to Siril for the first part of processing, but then I'm a Mac and Linux guy. And like you, I tend to do my polishing in Photoshop. Of course, there's also plenty of software for image acquisition, as well as purpose-built astrophotograph processing stuff such as PixInsight. It's a well of time and money every bit as bottomless as the night sky we image. Since Photoshop can do stacking (put images in layers, auto-align, convert to smart object, set stack mode to median) you really can get quite a ways without venturing outside the tools with which you're already familiar.

Briefly put, it's all about hugely amplifying tiny differences in light level and contrast, without introducing absurd amounts of noise in the process. Most people wind up doing a fair bit of pre-processing to stack images for noise reduction, apply calibration frames, and the like, and then "stretch" the result to map a narrow range of tones of interest over the full dynamic range available. Mask to hide, curves to enhance, bash to fit, paint to cover.

Hi, Rick.

Thank you for the really comprehensive reply and information - as the other replies have been also.

I don't want to be a wizard, just want to capture images that inspire me and my friends. I suppose my interest lies in the Nebulae and their attendant clouds, these shots have always fascinated me.

I'll have a look at Siril as one of the problems I am having after trying to stack even a meagre (4) amount of images in photoshop is that they become blurry after applying median to the stack. It may well be that I need to shoot more images to stack.

After a brief read last night I now see that I need to introduce several types of shot, including ones to find hot pixels - again, all part of a huge learning curve.

All the very best.

 

Kev

 

 

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2 minutes ago, PeterCPC said:

Free stacking software for DSOs is here

Peter

Thanks, Peter.

I run Mac and think that this is Windows. I'm not too keen on partitioning my drive for Windows.

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I think you are going to be very limited with a Mac.  Maybe some-one knows some Mac stacking software, but I know many people with Macs who bought a windows laptop just for imaging purposes.

Carole 

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55 minutes ago, Terrierist said:

Thanks, Peter.

I run Mac and think that this is Windows. I'm not too keen on partitioning my drive for Windows.

There's a free program called Lynkeos for Mac... it's technically for planetary stacking, but I used it for a year with DSO subs and it worked fine for me... not as comprehensive as Deep Sky Stacker, but it's decent enough and probably easier than trying to stack in Photoshop directly... if you look through the Eq3-2 DSO Challenge thread on here, pretty much all my posted pictures were stacked using Lynkeos.

hope that helps , Art. 

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29 minutes ago, Art Gecko said:

There's a free program called Lynkeos for Mac... it's technically for planetary stacking, but I used it for a year with DSO subs and it worked fine for me... not as comprehensive as Deep Sky Stacker, but it's decent enough and probably easier than trying to stack in Photoshop directly... if you look through the Eq3-2 DSO Challenge thread on here, pretty much all my posted pictures were stacked using Lynkeos.

hope that helps , Art. 

Thanks, Art!

 

Will look at it now. @carastro The missus has a Windows laptop, may have to borrow that if all else fails.

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12 minutes ago, Terrierist said:

Thanks, Art!

 

Will look at it now. @carastro The missus has a Windows laptop, may have to borrow that if all else fails.

In all fairness, Carole is right... I have even made the jump back to windows just for the purpose of astrophotography... I bought a renovated ex-corporate laptop, windows 7, intel i5 2.4 Ghz, 128Gb SSD, 8Gb memory for £250... its the fastest computer I've ever owned and will stack a bunch of images with calibration frames in mere minutes... my Mac used to take several hours but it is 10 years old and only had 2Gb memory! DSS would take literally days to stack even a handful of subs!! 

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Hello.

 

In siril, median does not apply registration.

If you want to align and stack, please use other algorithm. With 4 images the best is mean with percentile clipping rejection.

Edited by lock042

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