Cluster of Clusters

 Deep Sky  Comments Off
Jan 252015

Here is my first real go at capturing clusters with my Nexstar 4SE OTA and Canon 1100D combo on an unguided HEQ5 Pro. All stacked in DeepSkyStacker and processed in StarTools and Krita. Krita is very cool and easy to use and can handle the 16bit tiffs from StarTool. Lights and darks all 20s and biases 1/4000s, all at ISO 6400.









 Posted by at 3:02 pm

2015 Orion Nebula

 Deep Sky  Comments Off
Jan 232015

This is my latest M42 captured on my Canon 1100D thru a Nexstar 4SE OTA mounted on a HEQ5 Pro. Stacking was done in Deep Sky Stacker and Processing in StarTools. I know it looks very gaudy but I like it. To me, it looks like we are peering thru furnace clouds into the blue white heat of the stellar foundry within. There is even a hint of some Pillars of Creation type features around the blue core.

m42all good 90 ST

Pillars of Creation?

Pillars of Creation?

Image was composed of 189 lights, 22 darks and 23 biases. All shot at ISO 6400 with 20s for lights and darks and 1/4000s for biases. Mount was unguided.

 Posted by at 7:29 pm
Jan 202015

I normally keep my mounts poorly aligned to allow testing of DSSR’s autoguiding feature. However, I wanted to take some deep sky shots so thought I better drift align first. Drift aligning is done in 2 steps and you can use the Sun, Moon, planets or stars as drift targets.

First, setup DSSR looking at a target in the South (or North if you are South of the equator) with roughly 0 degrees declination and open the Autoguide window and its Graph window. Right click on the target (I used a sunspot) which will turn on the drift monitoring mode and watch how the mDV line drifts off the horizontal. Stop monitoring, adjust your east-west mount adjustment screws and start monitoring again. If the slope of the mDV line gets steeper you have adjusted in the wrong direction. Repeat this process until the mDV line is horizontal like this screenshot.

Screen 20150119112741 000397

Next, choose a target near the eastern or western horizon. Repeat the monitoring process but this time adjust the north-south screws on your mount to get mDV horizontal like below.

Screen 20150119112741 001405

You can see above that I over-adjusted and the mDV curve started to climb. I then had to adjust in the other direction to bring the curve horizontal. I am now drift aligned.

ps Make sure you set your scope rate to suit your drift target.

 Posted by at 10:22 am

Mosaic Tutorial

 Moon, Tutorials  Comments Off
Jan 102015

This tutorial shows how to use DFM and DSSR to automatically capture lunar (and solar) mosaics and how to process them into a final image.  I used a Nexstar 4SE OTA on a HEQ5 Pro with a DMK21 camera for this tutorial.

First off, set up your scope and mount and make sure that DSSR has the correct FOV values in its telescope settings page. Let your scope cool down to ambient and then focus using DFM. Then capture your mosaics using DSSR as shown in this speeded up video.


DSSR will generate a preview image for each mosaic like this one below.

M 20150103183125 X1 preview

The blue tiles were dark sky which DSSR automatically skipped but you can see some tiles which are totally black or just have a sliver of Moon on them. We need to remove these before the next processing stage or they will crash the stacking programme. You could do this manually but this is very time consuming, especially for very large numbers of videos.

Luckily, Andrew Cool of SkippySky has produced a great app called AS2_Cull_Movies which will do this for you. You tell it where your videos are stored and what percentage of each video should be above a certain brightness threshold. I used 20% and a brightness threshold of 5. The app then checks each video and moves any rejects into a separate folder (or optionally changes their file extension). You can then move onto the video processing stage.

I use AviStack to process my videos into very sharp images. First, load all the videos from your DSSR video folder and select one of them with prominent features like craters or mountains. Change your settings to Processing>All automatic (except post processing) and Update display>None. Adjust the wavelets and other settings to give the best and sharpest image and process that single video. Remove that video using the red cross and press the Batch Processing button. AviStack will then run through all your remaining videos and produce an image from each.

Finally, open Microsoft ICE and drag all your images onto it. ICE will then stitch your mosaic together and you can then export it to disk. A final edit in your image editor of choice (I use GIMP) will give you an image like below. Compare this image with the shimmering videos in the video above.

Click for full size mosaic.

Click for full size mosaic.

 Posted by at 2:37 pm

DSSR is Now Fixed!

 News  Comments Off
Jan 022015

Vesion 4.8 of DSSR fixes the Object not set to an instance of an object error that arose out of nowhere on some users’ PCs, including my garage PC.

Not sure what caused it to suddenly appear after years of working OK – maybe a Windows update?

Anyhoos, a big thanks to Andrew Cool of SkippySky for helping me sort it out.

 Posted by at 11:11 am
Dec 302014

DSSR has a cool mosaic module that automatically captures videos for making lunar and solar mosaics. Part of this module is a mosaic preview image that shows the progress of the capture process. This was a bit hit and miss in older versions but I just tried out version 4.7 and I think I have finally got it.

Note that my mount is very roughly aligned so I set the mosaic size to 0.8×1.0 degrees to make sure I got the Moon. First up was a mosaic with the scope west of the pier. This took 22min with each video at 10sec and the mosaic started in the top right tile. The blue tiles are sky which DSSR automatically skips using the Exposures module.

M 20141229182748 X1 preview

Next up I did a meridian flip and tried again. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 1:56 pm
Dec 212014

New European tax rules mean that it is no longer viable to sell my software online. Therefore, all my astro software is now freeware and is available in Downloads.

Clear skies and enjoy your holidays!

 Posted by at 11:33 am
Dec 182014

Click on image for full size

Managed to get this winter’s first shots of M42 last night with my Canon 1100D/Nexstar 4SE OTA/HEQ5 combo. Clouds and poor alignment meant I only got 36 decent shots of 10s at ISO6400 at prime focus. Stacking was done in DeepSkyStacker with post-processing in StarTools.

 Posted by at 1:38 pm
Dec 072014

I have now dusted down my winter observatory and I did a quick test mosaic using DSSR. This comprised about 100x 10sec videos which my HEQ5 zipped thru in about 15 minutes. The videos were batch processed in AviStack 2 and merged in Microsoft ICE. Click on image for full size.

Click for full size image

 Posted by at 1:48 pm
Jul 282014

A brilliant cloud free day in Inverness, Scotland allowed me to capture 7 hours of solar activity with my PST telescope. This is played back here at 375x real time and then as inverted. It then plays back at 1200x real time several times to show the plasma movement.

Captured with a PST and DMK21 and PowerMate2.5x combo.

 Posted by at 2:42 pm