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Astrophotography software

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#1 tomnjulie

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 11:33 PM

I am about to pull the trigger on an ATIK 428 with hyperstar to use with my Edge 8 HD. I'm finding myself overwhelmed with the software options. Can I get some input on what would be a good entry level package to just get going? I'd like to get going and figure out some basics before springing for something like Maxim DL. Thanks.

#2 rigel123

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 11:44 PM

You could start with Nebulosity for capture, stacking and some post processing. Fairly inexpensive and a nice program. I still use it for capture but PS for post processing. Also Deep Sky Stacker is a good free program for stacking your subs.

#3 David Ault

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 12:39 AM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights! Sounds like a fantastic combination of scope and camera, you should be able to get some great images with them.

What are you looking to do with the software? Image acquisition? Stacking? Processing? Guiding? Mount control? Focus control?

Most software packages do some, but not all of these tasks. If you let us know what you want to accomplish I'm sure you will get some specific software package recommendations.

To give you an idea of how I started, this is what I used initially (all free):
ArtemisCapture - image aquisition (comes with ATIK cameras)
PHDGuiding (free) for guiding (if you are doing this)
DeepSkyStacker (stacking and simple curve adjustments)
Gimp for simple image processing (does not handle 16-bit images)

After about 6 months I decided I needed to improve my processing and switched to PixInsight for stacking, registration and image processing. This software is designed specifically for astrophotgraphy processing and has some very advanced tools. I've found it very worth the $225 cost (171 Euros).

I recently upgraded to off-axis guiding and electronic focus control, so to take advantage of these features I moved to Sequence Generator Pro ($99). This covers image acquisition, guiding through PHD with dithering, automated focus, mount control and more. There is also a free version of this software that covers the image acquisition and guiding with dithering.

There are of course many other options. The best suggestion I can give you is to try out everything you can, this is how I settled on what I'm using now. There is a trial version of Nebulosity (it puts in some diagonal stripes in the images). PixInsight has a full featured 45 day trial. Sequence Generator Lite is effectively a reduced functionality unlimited trial of the Pro version. ImagePlus (capture and processing), MaximDL (capture and some processing) StarTools (just processing), AstroArt (capture and processing) and CCDWare packages all have trials with different limitations and time periods (some won't save the data, others just have time limits). Unfortunately, some companies do not provide free trials like Software Bisque.

Regards,
David

#4 Mike7Mak

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 03:16 AM

Nebulosity for capture, calibration and stacking, and StarTools for post processing.

You may find that's all you need, or want, depending on how 'into' processing you are. I pretty much hate it, much happier collecting the photons than making a picture with them.

If you're a total noob to processing read the Nebulosity manual, a couple times, even if you don't buy the program. It's a great explanation of the fundamentals.

StarTools is simply amazing. Of course the more you understand what you're telling it to do the easier it is to use, BUT there's no other processing program more conducive to trial and error button pushing.

#5 agmakr

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 03:24 AM

Hi,

I would suggest trying the ArtemisCapture for starters.
It is a decent program, i used it for some months and it does everything you want
for capturing and guiding.
If you want a full package you may go for Nebulosity which
is cheap in relation to MaximDL.

After trying both these, i have now settled with MaximDL
which is an excellent program for both capturing,dithering,
guiding and preprocessing (and many more).

Kind regards,
Angelos

#6 TimN

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 05:55 PM

Asking about processing software is like asking what is the best car - you are bound to get a lot of different opinions. I'm with Mike on StarTools. It's fairly easy to learn and can produce excellent results. Best of all, you can try it for free as long as you want - it just doesn't save. If you decide to buy it - it's only $60 as its a non for profit effort by an astrophotographer.

#7 Phil Sherman

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:07 PM

Another possibility is Mike Unsold's ImagesPlus. IPCC (Camera Control) will run your camera using the ASCOM drivers supplied with it. The image processing part will do all of your preprocessing with you doing it function by function or it can do everything under its internal automated control. Once you have your stacked image, the image processing capabilities give you most of what Photoshop will do, without the need to purchase plugins.

Phil






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