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.
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.
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.
StarTools creator Ivo took pity on my processing efforts and produced the image below from my data. Talk about chalk and cheese. You can see his processing workflow here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just tried out my new 1100D at prime focus thru my 4SE’s optical port in alt-az mode. I captured 90 frames (each 20s x ISO6400) using Canon EOS Utilities and then used AstroKam to filter them down to 56 good frames. DeepSkyStacker did its stacking magic and then Star Tools brought out the detail and colors.
Click on the image to see the original or click this link to see a zoomable version.
Update: I actually captured in 3 batches to give a total of 114 good light frames. Below is the new result and it looks like the extra frames give more detail in the fainter regions.
Again, here is a zoomable version.
This was taken with my Canon A810 looking thru my Nexstar 4SE in alt-az mode. Stacked in DeepSkyStacker and processed in Star Tools then Gimp.
Here is my latest AstroKam shot of M42 in Orion taken with my £50 Canon A810 mounted on my Nexstar 4SE in alt-az mode. AstroKam automatically slewed to M42 during an all-night survey and spent 60 minutes shooting lights, darks and offsets. The best 43 lights were selected using AstroKam’s Sort module and stacked in DeepSkyStacker and processed in the beta version of Star Tools.
UPDATE: Ivo of Star Tools showed me how to process my FITS files and here is his take on my M42 below. He used Star Tools’s Repair module to turn my arrowhead stars into points – not bad for an alt-az mount.
I just tried out my new 1100D with a Canon 75-300 zoom on some deep sky objects. The camera was mounted on a Nexstar 4SE mount in alt-az mode aligned using 1 star with no guiding. My location is in a heavily light polluted city. Capture was by the Canon EOS utility program which captured around 30 shots at 30 seconds and 1600 ISO for each object. Stacking was done in DeepSkyStacker and post processing in Star Tools.
Still getting the hang of the software but I am pretty pleased with my first efforts at deep sky. I am still trying to figure why the stars are little triangles – vibration or lens distortion? Click on any image to view the original frame.
This 20 second video shows a 2 hour capture session using my Canon A810 mounted on my Nexstar 4SE in alt-az mode.
I used AstroKam’s new Sort routine to pick out the best captures which were stacked in DeepSkyStacker. Star Tools then brought out the details and colors to produce this image. Pretty good for a £50 camera?