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Automatic Lunar Mosaicing?

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#126 HxPI

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 10:23 AM

Hi Mel,

 

Looking forward to the update. I'm curious about the upcoming auto-align feature... is it image based similiar to terrain mapping or plate solving techniques? Is there any chance of also adding autofocus routine to the mix? Then automatic lunar mosaic would be fully automatic. Also, is there ANY possibility of creating a similiar app for solar mosaicing? My ES127 and Daystar Quark would thank you! Finally how useful would partial lunar mosaicing be, i.e. only capture a portion of the lunar disk depending on the feature of interest? Just dreamin' out loud grin.gif

 

Thanks for your effort and offering this great software for free. I think it would be worth purchasing. I love how software and hardware developers fill the various needs that arise and enable even better capabilities!

 

Ciao,

Mel

The auto-align feature is based on still images taken with the USB camera. First, there is some image normalization (brightness, contrast, resolution reduction). Then I use the computer vision package OpenCV to identify features in the image. The descriptors of those features are matched with the reference frame (taken at auto-align startup) to measure the image shift for each individual feature detected. The shift should be identical for all features, so I use a clustering algorithm to find outliers caused by misidentifications. All this works well with "synthetic" moon pictures which I created from old images taken through my telescope, so I hope that it will work well on the real moon as well.

 

I don't need a complete "plate solving" here, because I know that the image is just shifted by some pixels in x and y. Therefore, this part is easy. It only gets difficult by the fact that I have to deal with a blurry moon image, rather than well-defined star images where plate solving techniques are used traditionally. Translating the x,y pixel shift values in RA,DE corrections is straightforward because I know the camera orientation, the telescope's focal length and the sensor's pixel size.

 

I don't know how to implement a good autofocus for moon images. As far as I know nobody has solved that problem yet. I discussed the issue with Torsten Edelman, the author of FireCapture. After some experiments he gave up on this topic as well. Perhaps I will do some more experiments later when there is no more work on MPM.

 

I don't think that a similar program would make sense for the sun. The point is that the sun is changing too quickly. At a reasonable resolution you notice a substantial change after some three minutes already. I don't see any possibility to record the video files quickly enough so that everything is finished within this short time.

 

Restricting the action of MPM on a section of the lunar disk is possible already now. Before starting the video acquisition loop, you only have to "mark all tiles processed", draw a rectangle with the mouse around the tiles you want to record, and "mark those tiles unprocessed". This way MPM will record only those tiles contained in the rectangle. Is that what you dream of?  smile.gif

 

I guess that you wonder why I'm waiting so long before doing the real tests on the moon. The reason is that after a surgery at the moment I cannot lift heavy weight, such as my telescope. I hope that in August one of my sons will help me setting up the telescope in the garden for the final tests.

 

All the best,

 Rolf

Thanks for the response and all the best to you for a full recovery.

 

Ciao,

Mel



#127 calli

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 08:10 AM

I guess that you wonder why I'm waiting so long before doing the real tests on the moon. The reason is that after a surgery at the moment I cannot lift heavy weight, such as my telescope. I hope that in August one of my sons will help me setting up the telescope in the garden for the final tests.

 

All the best,

 Rolf

If you were located close to me I would come to help. Seriously.

 

Carsten



#128 Rolf

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 12:47 PM

Hi Mel and Carsten,

 

Thank you very much for your good wishes! Yes, Berlin is a little to far away from Cologne for observing together. Unfortunately, although I'm a member of the local astronomy forum "Koeln-Bonner Astrotreff", the other members are mostly focussed on deep-sky objects and observe from locations with dark skies in the Eifel. I don't know anybody interested in the moon who lives nearby. frown.gif

 

So, my only hope is that I get my sons out of bed at some 4:00 a.m. during their school vacations in August. Perhaps I will have to pay for their service...

 

Best wishes,

 Rolf



#129 Rolf

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 04:08 AM

Hi Ciarán,

 

Hi Rolf, when choosing the Focus Area would it be possible to slew to a nearby bright star (rather than a feature on the moon itself) and store the star location using the Enter button? That way we could focus on the star using a Bahtinov mask. 

Yesterday I implemented the option to use a nearby star for focusing. You can see the details in the updated documentation. You will find the details in Section 4.6 of the user guide. Therefore, this feature will definitely be part of the next release.

 

All the best,

 Rolf


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#130 xiga

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 04:27 PM

Hi Ciarán,

 

Hi Rolf, when choosing the Focus Area would it be possible to slew to a nearby bright star (rather than a feature on the moon itself) and store the star location using the Enter button? That way we could focus on the star using a Bahtinov mask. 

Yesterday I implemented the option to use a nearby star for focusing. You can see the details in the updated documentation. You will find the details in Section 4.6 of the user guide. Therefore, this feature will definitely be part of the next release.

 

All the best,

 Rolf

That's brilliant news Rolf, thanks so much for adding this! laugh.gif

 

While we're on the subject can i ask/suggest one more feature as well please? tongue2.gif  There is a small, freely available, program called Bahtinov Grabber, which (once you enter a few simple parameters) analyses the bahtinov spikes and tells you when you are in the Critical Focus Zone. The software 'APT - Astro Photography Tool' uses the same technology in it's Bahtinov Focusing routine, see link below:

 

http://ideiki.com/as...ahtinov_aid.htm

 

Would there be any way to add this capability to MPM as well? Not a big deal if it can't, but i thought it would be a really nice feature to complete the whole focusing routine. 



#131 xiga

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 04:45 PM

Sorry, in my excitement i forgot to ask the other 2 questions i had!

 

1. The documentation talks about the importance of... 'approaching landmarks in declination from the same side as the telescope does during a GoTo operation'. I know for my HEQ5Pro mount, whenever i do DSO work i usually use the Manual Guide controls in PHD2 and tap the N & W keys a few times until i see movement in those directions. This is to remove any backlash before doing the calibration. So, does this mean that i would have to use the Up and Left arrow keys in MPM when approaching landscapes?

 

2. If Auto Alignment is set to On, will re-focusing always trigger MPM to automatically take another alignment point?



#132 Rolf

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 05:38 AM

Hi Ciarán,

 

I don't think it would help much if I added the control of the APT software into MPM. Since you have to install / remove the mask manually, the focussing process could not run in automatic mode, anyway. It should not be too hard for the user ti call APT himself / herself, would it? Adding a connection to an external program is a substantial overhead, so it must be justified very well. In the case of FireCapture I see a clear bonus, but in the APT case I don't. Sorry for that!

 

Here are my answers to your second message:

 

1. The reason why in the docu I stress the point of approaching the landmark from the same side as in goto operations is in fact the backlash problem. It does not matter if you use the arrow keys on the computer or the remote control of your mount. My Vixen SXD mount in a goto operation always approaches the target from the same side. Therefore, the gear afterwards is always in contact on the same side. If now in an alignment operation you approach the landmark from the other side, the alignment is in error exactly by the amount of backlash. There is no way MPM can compensate for that.

 

2. No, if auto-alignment is on, MPM decides when to do a new alignment based on the recorded alignment error development. It does not matter if you insert a pause during video acquisition or re-focus. Of course you can switch off auto-alignment and switch it back on. In this case MPM re-initializes auto-alignment which includes a new manual alignment.

 

All the best,

 Rolf

 

 



#133 rlsarma

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 06:51 AM

Hi Rolf,

 

Greetings from Assam, India. I have been struggling for a lunar mosaic software quite some time. Then suddenly, I have found this thread which is full of interesting information and especially your wonderful work on MPM I know CN will definitely lead me to my desired path). Without wasting a moment, I have downloaded MPM V0.9.3 and the User Manual in PDF today. However, weather here in this part of the country is cloudy and rainy most part of this season and so I am eagerly waiting to give MPM a try when I get a clear sky with waxing Moon. From the discussions, I can understand how beautiful the software is. I also have downloaded the Moon photo taken by you which is undoubtedly an awesome work.

 

My best wishes and thanks to you for this wonderful gift. I hope it should work with my AVX mount with c9.25. I'll surely give you a feedback as soon as I will be able to take a satisfactory pano.

 

Regards.

 

Rajib

Digboi (N 27 deg, E 95 deg)

Assam, India 



#134 Rolf

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 08:34 AM

Hi Rajib,

 

Thank you very much for your nice words! It is an honor for me to see people all over the world interested in using my software. I will do all I can to make MPM as easy to use as possible. I hope that early next week the clouds will go away in Germany, so finally I can test the new MPM version 0.9.5. My sons spend their vacations with me, so they can help me set up my telescope.

 

Your C9.25 and AVX mount should work just fine with my software. I'm looking forward to getting your feedback after your first practical experiences. In the meantime, while clouds make real observations impossible, I suggest that you practice the handling of the software with a simulator program (such as Stellarium) replacing the telescope. I explained the details on page 3 of this thread. Even for me it is very helpful to practice indoors if I haven't had the opportunity to observe for a long time.

 

I wish you good luck with the weather, and I hope that you will succeed in using my software.

 

All the best,

 Rolf



#135 rlsarma

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 09:41 PM

Good Morning Rolf,

 

Thank you so much for your suggestion. I'll now certainly try this in my sitting room until the sky is clear and the Moon is there. 

 

Wishing you all the best in your V0.9.5 upgrade for which I am eagerly waiting for.

 

Rajib



#136 Rolf

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 09:09 AM

Hi,

 

Last Tuesday finally I could do the first tests of MPM 0.9.5 on the real moon. My sons helped me setting up the telescope, so I didn't have to carry the heavy mount.

 

Unfortunately, the sky was not completely clear. There were many interrupts due to clouds, and in the end there was an almost complete cloud coverage. It was impossible to expose a full panorama, but the focus was on software testing, anyway. There I made much progress: Focussing on a star and the option to take several videos of the same tile in a row (for RGB work) work just fine.

 

The challenging part, however, is auto-alignment. I was pleasantly surprised that the auto-alignment initialization worked "out of the box". This includes an estimation of the focal length of the telescope system and the automatic detection of image flip (due to mirrors in the system). Taking still pictures through the FireCapture connection works fine, as does the image processing on the MPM side.

 

More difficult is the detection of key points in the still images which is needed for measuring the shift due to alignment inaccuracies. Sometimes the detection failed, especially if thin clouds were in the view. I took many pictures, so I later I could adjust the computer vision parameters in the software. I hope that next time the key point detection will be more robust.

 

The automatic alignment operations which the software inserts between video recordings did not work properly. I later discovered and corrected a bug in the software (the correction was applied in the opposite direction), so I hope it will work next time.

 

To summarize, the new version worked better than I had expected. Based on the first experiences meanwhile I produced a new version which I will test as soon as possible. I guess that I need one or two more observing sessions before I can release the new software version.

 

All the best,

 Rolf


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#137 rlsarma

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 05:42 AM

Hi Rolf,

 

Happy to know about the progress you made in MPM 0.9.5. Looking forward to testing the new version as soon as you release it for us. All the very best.

 

Regards.

 

Rajib



#138 xiga

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 08:07 AM

Hi Rolf

 

I just wanted to let you know that I finally got a chance to use your MPM software, and I thought I'd leave a little feedback for you.

 

First things first, what a wonderful piece of software it is! I absolutely love it, and I will be using it every time I want to do a mosaic. Everything went fine, I managed to capture all the tiles and no sections were missed, so I was very impressed indeed. It was just a test run really, but you can see the image I ended up with here:

https://www.cloudyni...aug-31-74-moon/

 

I did however notice something that could perhaps be improved upon, although I will admit that it was certainly an unusual case and not one that you would want to find yourself in very often!

When I have to image from home, I have a limited window of opportunity before the moon goes behind my neighbour's roof. Early in the night I get the best angle in one part of our driveway, then after a while I can extend my imaging run only if I re-locate the whole gear to a different part of the driveway (obviously not something you would normally want to do). I originally thought I had missed the last tile just before it went out of view, so I thought to myself, why not just move the whole rig to somewhere where I can still see the moon and then I can capture the last tile. So I went ahead and moved the whole rig. I re-did my PA (which doesn't take long using Eqmod), and seeing as I was already close to focus and the camera was also still orientated correctly, I figured all I would then need to do was do another alignment point and then the software would correctly go to the exact spot required for the last tile. However, upon starting the alignment point routine, the scope started slewing away in completely the wrong direction, and I had no choice but to stop it manually using the Eqmod controls. Doing this meant that MPM would not move on to the next stage, i.e asking me to centre the AP (Copernicus) in the reticle. So it was then impossible to get MPM to capture the last tile (although as I said, I was lucky that I only just got it before trying all of this).

 

So perhaps one solution would be, when selecting to take an AP, MPM could then provide 2 options, the 1st would be a 'slew & centre' routine (i.e the default and exactly the same as it is now) and the 2nd could be a 'centre only' routine, requiring the user to just centre the AP in the reticle. The 2nd option is therefore fully manual for getting the AP centred, and in my case it would have allowed me to continue with the mosaic even though it had been interrupted in a big way.

 

What do you think, does this sound like a useful feature, or was there a much easier way that I didn't realise?



#139 Rolf

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 01:05 PM

Hi Ciarán,

 

Somehow I have not noticed your posting of Sept. 4, so I didn't answer yet. I only saw it right now. I'm very sorry for that!

 

In general it's not a good idea to move the telescope between recording the tiles of a panorama. The main reason is that in doing so you will have a rotation between the old and new tiles, because you will never get the mount levelled exactly the same as before. Or course I understand that in your situation you don't have much of a choice, though.

 

If you want to do it nevertheless, the best way with MPM would be to shut down the program before you move the scope and then start it anew at the new location. Then you go through the usual initializations. When you are prompted to start the tile recordings, you "set all tiles processed", followed by selecting the missing tiles and setting them unprocessed. Then you start the recording loop.

 

It does not make sense to keep the old alignment points because the mount will be pointing slightly different after the move. Combining old and new alignment points would lead to very bad drift rates.

 

All the best,

 Rolf



#140 Rolf

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 01:28 PM

Hi,

 

Yesterday and today I finally had the chance to test the new MoonPanoramaSoftware version 0.9.5. This is a short status update.

 

The biggest new software component, i.e. the auto-alignment feature, worked flawlessly. The accuracy is better than I ever accomplished manually, and the automatic shift determination never failed. This is a big step forward. In the first real test in August the automatic correction didn't work. Afterwards I discovered that I applied the correction with the wrong sign. frown.gif

 

I did a thorough check of all the other functions, and I identified six minor issues which I have to fixe before I release the software. I hope to be able to do that without further tests under the sky. If that is the case, I plan to release the new version in about two weeks from now.

 

By the way: In this thread I posted the two panoramas I took yesterday and today. One could say that they were just side-effects of my software tests.

 

All the best,

 Rolf



#141 Rolf

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Posted 31 October 2017 - 10:54 AM

Hi,

 

Today I finally released the new MoonPanoramaMaker version 0.9.5. Please refer to this thread for details.

 

Last night the sky was partly clear, so I could do the final test run of the software. All issues identified during the previous session turned out to be fixed, and, althouth I tried hard, I did not find any new problem.

 

The new auto-alignment feature works just great with my telescope and camera. I am more than surprised that it never failed so far. If I didn't have to check the focus every once in a while, I could leave the telescope alone for a full panorama session and have dinner in the meantime.  smile.gif

 

I'm looking forward to receiving your feedback!

 

All the best,

 Rolf



#142 kbev

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 03:13 PM

Rolf, thanks for this update!  One question: in the current documentation you are still listing Firecapture v2.5 (x64) for capturing the videos.  I just wanted to confirm if it will work with the newer versions as well?  



#143 Rolf

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 03:51 PM

Rolf, thanks for this update!  One question: in the current documentation you are still listing Firecapture v2.5 (x64) for capturing the videos.  I just wanted to confirm if it will work with the newer versions as well?  

Hi Kevin,

 

As far as I know, FireCapture v2.5 (x64) is still the most recent release. Of the newer v2.6 there is only a beta release. I didn't try that one, but most likely it will work with MPM 0.9.5. All I rely on is the plugin interface version 1.1 which should still be up to date.

 

That said, please do not forget to use the NEW FireCapture plugin which comes with MPM 0.9.5. The new MoonPanoramaMaker version will not work with the previous FireCapture plugin.

 

All the best,

 Rolf



#144 HxPI

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 05:13 PM

Rolf,

 

Thank you for the update. The program won't start and I'm getting the following error : 

 

"See the logfile 'C:\Program Files(x86)\MoonPanoramaMaker\dist\moon_panorama_maker.exe.log' for details"

 

Here is the contents of moon_panorama_maker.exe.log:

 

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "moon_panorama_maker.py", line 1374, in <module>
  File "moon_panorama_maker.py", line 106, in __init__
  File "configuration.pyc", line 278, in __init__
  File "configuration.pyc", line 332, in set_protocol_level
  File "ConfigParser.pyc", line 359, in getint
  File "ConfigParser.pyc", line 356, in _get
  File "ConfigParser.pyc", line 618, in get
ConfigParser.NoOptionError: No option 'protocol level' in section: 'Workflow'
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "moon_panorama_maker.py", line 1374, in <module>
  File "moon_panorama_maker.py", line 106, in __init__
  File "configuration.pyc", line 278, in __init__
  File "configuration.pyc", line 332, in set_protocol_level
  File "ConfigParser.pyc", line 359, in getint
  File "ConfigParser.pyc", line 356, in _get
  File "ConfigParser.pyc", line 618, in get
ConfigParser.NoOptionError: No option 'protocol level' in section: 'Workflow'

 

I'll look at the manual to see if I can figure out what might be wrong. Hopefully this is something that can be resolved easily!

 

Thanks again.

 

Ciao,

Mel


Edited by HxPI, 02 November 2017 - 05:14 PM.


#145 Rolf

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 07:20 AM

Mel,

 

Did you upgrade directly from MPM version 0.9.2 to 0.9.5? I looked into the error message, and that's the only explanation I have.

 

The problem is that the format of the file where MPM stores its configuration has changed. This file is stored in your home directory and is called ".MoonPanoramaMaker.ini" (hidden file). If MPM detects a file written by the previous version (0.9.3), it automatically converts it to the new format. This does not work for version 0.9.2, though. Since I had released v0.9.3 a year ago already, I assumed that nobody would sill use an older version. Obviously I was wrong! I will add a check on that in the next release.

 

As a quick fix simply delete the ".MoonPanoramaMaker.ini" file in your home directory. Afterwards, at the first start of MPM you will have to enter/modify all parameters from scratch. Sorry for that! MPM will store the .ini file in the new format, so it will keep your input for future runs.

 

All the best,

 Rolf


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#146 HxPI

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 08:03 AM

Mel,

 

Did you upgrade directly from MPM version 0.9.2 to 0.9.5? I looked into the error message, and that's the only explanation I have.

 

The problem is that the format of the file where MPM stores its configuration has changed. This file is stored in your home directory and is called ".MoonPanoramaMaker.ini" (hidden file). If MPM detects a file written by the previous version (0.9.3), it automatically converts it to the new format. This does not work for version 0.9.2, though. Since I had released v0.9.3 a year ago already, I assumed that nobody would sill use an older version. Obviously I was wrong! I will add a check on that in the next release.

 

As a quick fix simply delete the ".MoonPanoramaMaker.ini" file in your home directory. Afterwards, at the first start of MPM you will have to enter/modify all parameters from scratch. Sorry for that! MPM will store the .ini file in the new format, so it will keep your input for future runs.

 

All the best,

 Rolf

I uninstalled the previous version and then installed the new version. I'm not sure what version it was but I usually keep the latest versions of the software up to date. I'll do what you recommend and hope that fixes the problem. Thanks!

 

Ciao,

Mel



#147 HxPI

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 02:46 PM

Mel,

 

Did you upgrade directly from MPM version 0.9.2 to 0.9.5? I looked into the error message, and that's the only explanation I have.

 

The problem is that the format of the file where MPM stores its configuration has changed. This file is stored in your home directory and is called ".MoonPanoramaMaker.ini" (hidden file). If MPM detects a file written by the previous version (0.9.3), it automatically converts it to the new format. This does not work for version 0.9.2, though. Since I had released v0.9.3 a year ago already, I assumed that nobody would sill use an older version. Obviously I was wrong! I will add a check on that in the next release.

 

As a quick fix simply delete the ".MoonPanoramaMaker.ini" file in your home directory. Afterwards, at the first start of MPM you will have to enter/modify all parameters from scratch. Sorry for that! MPM will store the .ini file in the new format, so it will keep your input for future runs.

 

All the best,

 Rolf

 

Deleting the MoonPanoramaMaker.ini file fixed the problem. Thanks.

 

Ciao,

Mel


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#148 Rolf

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 10:19 AM

Hi Mel,

 

Thank you for your feedback! I'm glad the problem could be fixed. I already changed the software, so future releases of MoonPanoramaMaker will do the right thing no matter from which software version MPM is upgraded.

 

All the best,

 Rofl



#149 dziki

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Posted 29 September 2018 - 09:14 AM

Hi,

 

I have kind question: I went through this topic and I saw beautiful mosaics of the Moon. How do you integrate several panels into one seamless mosaic?

 

Usually I use Image Composite Editor for this task and it works perfectly with up to 100 elements. But now I have over 200 panels (I used x2 barlow with my Mak 180) and ICE does not work well with such amount of images :(



#150 Rolf

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Posted 29 September 2018 - 10:23 AM

Hi,

 

Over 200 panels is a lot. I must confess that I never had to integrate that many elements. For many years already I use the software "Panorama Studio Professional". It never failed so far. Usually it gives satisfactory results in fully automatic mode. And you can always influence the choice and positioning of alignment points manually.

 

It is important to use the professional variant because of its support of multi-row panoramas and 16 bit output.

 

Do you use MoonPanoramaMaker to record the panels?

 

All the best,

 Rolf




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