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Need some Helping Hands


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I tried imaging the Helping Hands Nebula (LDN 1355, 1357, and 1358).  I new it would be hard due to the target dimness and my sky.  But  my head gets a hankering for a wall now and then (I wish it was more then than now).  This was captured with the FSQ and .6x reducer on a Moonless night.  Conditions were fair--certainly not good, but I have had worse.  My question is is it worth it to continue, or should I relent to the wall?  I was inspired by an amazingly clear and deep IOTD on Astrobin a few weeks ago and thought to try and emulate it.  This is 225 120 sec red subs.  So 7.5 hours for one channel, and it took everything I had to get to this point, including binning the data (crazy, right... at 2.46 arcsec/pix?), and trying star exterminator for the first time.  I got the free trial.  It is amazing to remove stars in the linear state.  Believe it or not, but the teeniest tiniest amount of noise control was used for this image--even though it appears that it was slathered on with a trowel.  I guess because I did it in the linear state (which I rarely do).  The image has been way over stretched, but I wanted to provide you with a basis for your conclusion!

 So--this does not quite rise to the level of a poll, but I really would like to hear some opinions.  If I pursue this image it will mean 30-40 hours of imaging.  I can live with that, but only if there is a chance that the image will be decent.  Some bridges are, in fact, too far.  Is this one?  Very interested in hearing what folks think--especially those familiar with shooting this target in less than pristine skies.   Can the image I want to produce be accomplished?

FSQ 106 with 0.6x reducer and ASI 1600.  7.5 hours of red subs (120 sec) binned in software 2 x 2.


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Not sure I can provide any useful input as my set up is so different (RASA 11 with OSC). 7.5 hours does seem a lot of data for one broadband channel though - is it really going to improve that much beyond this? It probably looks a lot worse in grayscale as well - colour will bring a lot more contrast out?

I would probably shoot max 2 hours on this target, although I haven't tried it specifically (I'll add to the list!). Obviously F/2.2 is very fast, and I'm shooting from Bortle 3.

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1 hour ago, Fegato said:

Obviously F/2.2 is very fast, and I'm shooting from Bortle 3.

No--you won't have the same issue as me.  You have Aperture, focal ratio and a great sky.  That is the trifecta.

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46 minutes ago, Elp said:

You could try imaging luminence instead to gauge it, that is where all your fine detail will come from. My last long project I did 10h luminance and around 5-6 hours each RGB.


True. The problem is I can rarely shoot luminance due to conditions. 10 hours of Lum is at least 3 nights for me. But I guess it’s the only way to know

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