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Progress charted by Nebula In Orion


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Cloudy here again so while processing last nights subs (all 10 of em!), I thought Id post some pics of Neb In Orion that Ive taken over the last two months to help out newbs like myself floundering through this frustrating yet rewarding hobby.


Day One, Mid October, the less said the better...


Ok, so all pics in this post taken at ISO 800. This is about 15 60 sec subs stacked and "processed" (stop guffawing at the back). Using an EQ3/2 and a Skywatcher 150PL. Not bad definition but not much colour obtained.


By this point Id moved onto an EQ5 and a 200P, with an Astronomik CLS Clip Filter. The filter meant I could get the colour required even though 60-75 sec is again about the best you can expect from a motorised mount.


This is last nights subs processed in CS3, 200P on an EQ6. 100 second subsx10.

So thats it so far. Im looking at doing longer subs, poss ISO 400, a focussing mask, and a guide scope at some point. If any of you Uber Imagers want to share any obvious tips then please share;)

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nice progress :D

Your list oif to do's seems about right...

Focus makes a huge difference so its worth gettig it as good as you can and remeber that focus will change if the temperature changes... you can judge focus usign the diffraction spikes generated by the spider vanes although a Mask makes life a lot easier.. spend some time on a bright star tweaking focus.

Until you start guiding concentrate on polar alignment..

Be ruthless with the subs when stacking and dont included bad ones...


I would keep the ISO at 800 or 1600 at the moment

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1 x 120 sec sub, 10 flats, Bahtinov mask focussing. Not bad for 1 sub! Picture seems a bit "bitty" lots of blue dots rather than smooth coloujr, am I overprocessing it somewhere? Hmm, oh, took 2hrs data in 120 sec subs on M31 last night, only got hlaf the belt, ended up with this cr*p, :D dont know what went wrong, dark night, guided well etc. Maybe its the camera? (350D), anyway, for Christmas, I want us all to have clear skies, have a good un!



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Looks like mist/fog on the M31 pic. Dark frames will get rid of that red amp glow effect in the corner, and if you use Bias frames along with your darks and flats, you'll get a better result.

How did you aquire the flats for the Orion image? They dont seem to have knocked out the vignetting as you'd expect?

My first ever Orion pic through a scope was very similar to your second one. From that time on, I knew I was hooked :D Nice going.

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Very nice images, good to see you are making progress mate. As for the 'bitty' effect you speak of, to my very inexperienced eye I would say it is 'noise'. This was caused by you only using one sub, the more subs the less noise...... :-)

I may be wrong though so will wait for other more expert imagers to throw their 2p worth in.


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I get that glow in the same place on my EOS 1000. I guess I need to do some darks too. I got a mask, and in combination with the EOS live-view on a laptop, it did help - although I only managed one brief shot at Orion after focusing before the clouds rolled in.


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I sttod outside for 3 odd hours in the snow using a Canon 350D and a remote shutter watching the timer and releasing it every two minutes. Nice. (NOT) Astronomic 6metre cable on its way so I can sit in the house! I took two hours of M31 which were useless, even though it looked very clear that night. Then i took the odd shot of plaiedes, neb in orion etc for a laugh. Then took 10 120sec darks with the lid on my 200p with the eq6 still tracking so everything was exactly as it was when the lights were taken. All my pics have that "bittyness" to them tho. I use a blower on my filter which is immaculate, I collimate every time, let the scope cool, etc. I do so much to get this data but somethings alway going wrong! Even though I used the mask, I got focus perfect manually first time! The mask just confirmed it, sod law, but the thing is, my pics still dont seem as sharp as most of the pics on here. Could that be becuase of drift alignment and autoguiding? Anyway, Ill quit rambling, still need a clear night to waste on drift alignment. Bring on the pain!

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Temporary setup I assume? drift align is time consuming but worth it in sub frame success/ time, <1 hour spent aligning will almost eliminate major guiding errors, this will mean less subs are lost in the session, difficult time loss against possible clear sky window, the answer is a permenant setup

Focus, again, critical!, not much point in imaging for hours if focus is soft, all subs destined for the bin

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focus looks ok actually!

The images look like there is guiding/tracking issues, PA is key to imaging success

you sound like you are skitting around the sky trying to image lots of different things? Choose an object for the night, stick to it all night, as many hours as you can, boring, yes, get a dob to keep you occupied!

You need to image the same target multiple times to incrase your image data

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When you take a single shot, what setting do you use?

Ideally, use RAW mode only, but if you want to see a jpeg then go RAW + Large, but only use the RAW images for stacking.

To start to smooth things out, try to take at least 20 pictures. If the target is very faint, and it will need stretching more to bring the detail out, then you may need a lot more to do so without ruining the pic.

"vignetting" shows up when the chip of the camera is not evenly illuminated across its whole width, and you tend to get a dark surround, which gets worse when you start to stretch the pictures. By taking a "Flat", which is an evenly illuminated picture of a featureless target, the stacking program can see how much of the shot is affected by the vignetting, and so make the proper compensation, as well as some other funky stuff which increases contrast and eliminates dust bunnies :)

So far so good, just stick at it, read as much as you can, try and hook up with somebody from the forum maybe, or come to the SGL star parties for extra tips and to see how everybody else goes about things. As Swashy says though, spending time early on in the session getting your POLAR alignment as good as you possibly can, is time well spent, and will make your unguided imaging sessions much more productive.

Out of interest, did you take and save the bahtinov pic when you focussed? You have to make sure that the central line is absolutely smack on dead centre between the two outer lines, if the central line is even slightly nearer one edge than the other, then your focus is out. And focussing a DSLR is notoriously difficult, I used to struggle no end with my 350D.

Hope that helps a bit, i'm sure that in no time we'll be choosing your m31/M42 pics as picture of the week :D


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Are you using a 1.25" adapter? When I found that connecting of the T-ring to the focuser doesn't let you attach an LPR filter, I used a 1.25" (+ LPR) initially, but it introduced vignetting. I found using a 2" adapter (+LPR) resolved most vignetting issues.

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