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I scrapped all the Oiii and Sii data I previously took during a full moon (about 15 hours worth) and retook it all when the moon was a bit smaller at 76%. Ha was taken during 98% and 67% moon. All the lights were taken on the following nights: 12th, 19th and 20th September 2019.
Integration times, all in 600s subs unbinned:
Ha = 28.33 hours
Oiii= = 5.67 hours
Sii = 5.67 hours
The Ha data is really nice, and unsurprisingly the Oiii and Sii is not as strong (or nice).
I'm missing that (vital) step in my processing routine of getting the Sii and Oiii properly stretched to match the Ha, before combining. I dont really know how to deal with the weaker data properly. Any pointers would be appreciated.
What I do currently:
All the data is loaded into APP into separate channels/sessions.
The data is stacked and registered against the best Ha sub
This produces individual stacks of Ha, Sii and Oiii that are all registered
Each channel is processed with DPP in APP and then saved as a 16bit TIFF
Each is opened in PS
Stars removed with AA and any remnants removed and tidied up
I then open a blank RGB document in PS
I paste Ha into Green, Sii into Red and Oiii into Blue
Adjust the selective colour settings to get 'Hubble palette'
Adjust levels, curves, saturation until looks ok
All the Ha Sii Oiii data is then combined together in a single 'super' stack in APP using quality weighted algorithm to create a 'luminance'
That luminance layer is adjusted using levels, curves, and NC tools such as local contrast enhancement and deep space noise reduction (using masks to apply as required)
The luminance is pasted onto the above colour layer, and incrementally added using gaussian blur
Cropped and saved.
Here it is anyway I haven't intended on any more exposure time for this one, but will consider it, if the expert opinion dictates otherwise!
The topic of Polar Alignment is not at all new. Lot of approaches, automation tools are available. Yet, some aspects in all the current approaches drove me towards doing some more work. The key aspects of this approach are as follows.
Ability to do the Polar alignment without polaris sited Relatively less complexity than drift alignment Ability to address to a good extent the atmospheric refraction to finally locate correct NCP / SCP position A good starting point for amateurs who wish to graduate towards sophisticated tools and techniques Ability to quickly verify if the polar alignment is intact after one object photographed or viewed, and the equipment is being pointed to another object. This point is mentioned in light of the fact that sometimes the polar alignment gets disturbed and the next object photographed shows star trails. This is especially true if payload is tweaked for next photo imaging. What is required?
One should have a good understanding of the sky and ability to identify stars upto Mag 4.5 using star maps and basic concepts of RA and Dec. One should have Equatorial mount with ability to fine tune Azimuth and Alt adjustments. Availability of cross hair eye piece for the ability to locate the star exactly at the cross hair point. It is good to have finder scope attached and the finder cross hair is aligned with the main telescope eye piece cross hair. Please note this technique is not for the GoTo mounts which many times have Alt-Az mounts fitted with tracking motors. The GoTo alignment is done using 3 Star method.
However, there are a few mounts which are equatorial design and also have GoTo tracking capabilities with RA and Dec motors. For these mounts, it is preferred to carry out polar alignment. The only point about these mounts, is that GoTo should have ability to start the RA motor ( tracking) without doing the 3 Star alignment, in other words, bypassing the steps for 3 Star alignment.
The technique is based on the mathematics around the stellar current positions precisely computed. The technique suggests NCP or SCP alignment using specific pointing stars.
The technique relies upon pairs of stars identified such that pair has same RA or same Dec. The details about finding such pairs, are given in the next section ( Mathematics).
Try to do a very coarse polar alignment using your latitude and pointing the equatorial axis approximately towards a possible Polaris direction. This is only to reduce the iterations in the method below. There is no dependency to visually site Polaris. Step 2
Select the pair of stars of the same RA from the table 1 below. Now, while choosing the pair, please select that pair which is closest to the zenith. This will reduce the error due to atmospheric refraction of siting those stars. Choosing such pair, will get better alignment. Note that the NCP and SCP lie on the same RA contour of the pair, you have just chosen. Locate the first star of the pair in the cross hair eye piece. Loosen the DEC knob of your Eq mount. Let the RA axis not to be loosened. Further, please start the RA motor and hence the tracking. In case of GoTo capability, please ensure the tracking is On, while the 3 Star alignment being bypassed. Rotate the telescope around DEC axis such that the second star of the pair is in the Cross hair eye piece. In the first attempt, the second star almost certainly will not be at the center of cross hair eye piece. And you need corrections. At this point, take the help of the finder with its wider field of view. Identify the position of the second star whether it is below or above the finder cross hair. Adjust the Azimuth of the mount through the coarse or fine depending on how off the second star has been. o Tip : In case, someone is facing difficulty in finding which direction to move Azimuth of the mount for correction, the following tips may be of use. A simple way to determine is to locate where the second star lies with respect to cross hair. Assume it is on the lower side of cross hair. Then the correction in the Azimuth of the mount should be such that the star is moved upward. It may be noted that your finder can be either inverting or non-inverting. Now, to determine the movement, please hold the finger on the lower side in front of the primary of the finder. And slowly lift the finger towards the center of the primary to obstruct it and continue moving upward. While doing so, please observe from the eyepiece. The blackish ghost image of finger will be seen moving. If movement is lower to upward, the optics is non-inverting. If ghost image moves from up to down, it is inverting. With this small trick, you would know how to apply correction. Once the correction is done, please point the finder to the first and then second star alternately simply by rotating around Dec axis of the mount. Both stars will be seen at the cross hair. At this point, coarse polar alignment is done. Now, please use the main telescope cross hair to locate the first and then second star using Dec axis movement. If required, please carry out the necessary Azimuth correction. Again, please use the above small trick to find out more on how to apply correction. At this point, please note that at the telescope’s high power ( with cross hair eyepiece), the Dec axis is correctly tracing two stars in your pair. Note that NCP/SCP lie on the same Dec axis. The Azimuth alignment of NCP/SCP is achieved. No more touching of azimuth knob of your Equatorial mount now. Step 3
Site the pair of stars of the same Dec from the table 2 below. Now, while choosing the pair, please identify roughly the midpoint of them. Now, select that pair whose midpoint is relatively closest to the Zenith. With this, one star is relatively East ward and other one almost at a same distance but Westward. This will reduce the error due to atmospheric refraction of siting those stars. Choosing such pair, will get better alignment In case you are unable to select a pair, please read Step 4. Note that the NCP and SCP lie on the centre of the Dec circle which the above pair inscribes. Locate the first star in the cross hair of finder. To locate the second star, please lock Dec axis. But loosen the Eq axis and rotate the telescope around Eq axis. Please carry out Alt adjustments of the mount. Please use similar procedure and tricks as in the step 2. Once the two stars are in the cross hair positions of the telescope, the polar alignment is completed. Step 4 ( only if you could not carry out Step 3)
Site the pair of stars of the same RA from the table 1 below. Now, while choosing the pair, please select another pair which is off zenith. Please try to select such pair which has both stars approx same elevation from horizon, so that their atmospheric refraction is almost same. Effectively, we cancel the atmospheric refraction influence. Please note that in step 2, NCP/SCP is located to be on one of the RA lines. Now, we use another RA line with this newly selected pair. Again, for these stars to be centred, please keep Eq axis fixed and only move Dec axis ( similar to step 2). However this time, the mount corrections to be done are using Alt adjustments. Once the two stars are in the cross hair positions of the telescope, the polar alignment is completed. Mathematics
The starting point was the star catalog where the Epoch 2000 is taken as baseline. Then I selected the stars brighter than mag 4.5. I applied the corrections due to Earth Precession and also the individual star’s proper motion. With the base data was ready for today's’ star positions. Then I programmatically picked up all pairs for same RA (within 0.001 difference) and later all pairs with same Dec (within 0.001 difference).
I found mag 4.5 to be heuristically optimal. This magnitude is sufficient for visual locating these stars. Also, the number stars shortlisted from the main catalog is good enough to give sufficient number of required pairs.
The pairs located today may not be valid after say couple of years due to Earth Precession and stellar proper motion. The below two tables will need fresh computation then.
Disclaimer: I have tried few of the above mathematically found pairs from my location 19 Lat 73 Log. I use Bresser ExOS 2 mount. After the polar alignment, the tracking was tested for 10 min which was adequate for my current level of astrophotography.
At different altitudes, different latitudes, this is not tested. I believe, the method will definitely work for small exposures. It is to be validated if this method works for very long exposures.
Table 1 : Star pairs with same RA ( useful for Step 2 and 4)
First star (name)
First star HD Id
Second star ( name)
Second star HD Id
Table 2 : Star pairs with same Dec ( useful for Step 3)
First star (name)
First star HD
Second star ( name)
Second star HD
4 Xi CMaj
Ashirwad Tillu ( firstname.lastname@example.org), user name ( antariksha)
When I use SynscanInit to help me to Polar Align, it shows me an image of Polaris against an Octans reticle (as fitted in my Polar Alignment Scope) as follows:
However, when I look through my Polar Alignment Scope, the image I see is like this:
It's upside down with respect to the SynscanInit view.
So my questions are:
1. Is my Polar Alignment Scope fitted upside down in my mount (SW EQ3-Pro)?
2. If not, How do I read the information from SynscanInit? Should I position Polaris in the corresponding position, ie at the top of my view?
Thanks in advance
P.S. Sorry for the huge pictures.