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Software for astrophotography

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#1 Sporocyte

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 08:51 PM

Before I retired I worked in image analysis from photography and other sources. The first software I used was a NASA -developed program named ELAS (totally command line) which was commercialized as ERDAS and vastly extended and improved, a largely raster-based system. Later I used ESRI’s ArcMap, a largely vector based environment which is unlikely to have any astronomy application at all.

The reason I mention my background is that some of the imagery techniques used in astrophotography post processing are very familiar to me (histogram stretch, convolutions, etc).

So what software should I look at?

I have a DSLR (Canon TS3i) some manual lenses from 55 mm manual up to a Celestron C90. And a Skywatcher EQ3-r Mount That is on a pier and for which I’m building a roll-off observatory. I live in very rural North Louisiana between Ruston and Natchitoches. Good luck finding that on a map! But it’s pretty dark and I listen to the frogs sing love songs as I look at the stars.

#2 jerahian

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 09:15 PM

Lucky for us all, the software is probably the least expensive part of this hobby.  There would be several for you to look at for different parts of what you are looking to do.  These are as follows:

 

Planetarium - for planning and gotos if you want your mount to be PC connected for slewing to targets.  For this, there are a couple of options:

Image Capture

  • BackyardEOS (license) - automated image capture and sequencing for your DSLR
  • Sequence Generator Pro (license) - supports DSLRs as well as CMOS & CCD cameras (for future proofing your astrophotography wink.gif)

Processing

  • PixInsight (license) - Given your background, you should just get this software.  It's technical and almost ubiquitous in the world of astrophotography processing.

I just realized you may have been asking only about post-processing software, so I'm sorry if the rest doesn't interest you.  PixInsight is definitely the way to go for processing though, hands down in my opinion.

 

Good luck,

-Ara

 

P.S.  Enjoy your observatory under your lovely dark sky...totally jealous waytogo.gif


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#3 2ghouls

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 09:24 PM

https://pixinsight.com'>PixInsight is fairly expensive, but worth it in my opinion. Very powerful software and it keeps improving. It does have a command line interface as well as a GUI.

They offer a 45-day free trial:https://pixinsight.c...ial/index.html'> https://pixinsight.c...rial/index.html

#4 scadvice

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 09:48 PM

There are some who use PhotoShop and a few other programs called StarTools and Nebulosity but for the most part the majority of imagers migrate to PixInsight.

 

There are a bunch of video's on you tube about PixInsight. I'm not by any means a computer literate person but I'm using PixInsight. I was able to start using it by watching this 12 part series of videos by a guy named Astro Dude. Very basic stuff the first video but it was well worth it to get the flow in my head.

 

https://www.youtube....JJqew6rQ&t=21s 

 

BackyardEOS is and excellent way to control the T3i and it's cheap at 50 bucks. Here is a video (A long one but the only one you would need to watch and use BackyardEOS).

 

https://www.youtube....gkw8bx7Aw&t=40s

 

APT (Astrophotography Tool) is another and Ara already mentioned SPG...

 

PHD2 is a mount guiding program used by most of us. But you can start imaging without computer guiding. 

 

https://openphdguidi...-guiding-video/


Edited by scadvice, 23 May 2019 - 09:57 PM.


#5 Sporocyte

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 10:31 PM

Lucky for us all, the software is probably the least expensive part of this hobby. There would be several for you to look at for different parts of what you are looking to do. These are as follows:

Planetarium - for planning and gotos if you want your mount to be PC connected for slewing to targets. For this, there are a couple of options:

Image Capture
  • BackyardEOS (license) - automated image capture and sequencing for your DSLR
  • Sequence Generator Pro (license) - supports DSLRs as well as CMOS & CCD cameras (for future proofing your astrophotography wink.gif)
Processing
  • PixInsight (license) - Given your background, you should just get this software. It's technical and almost ubiquitous in the world of astrophotography processing.
I just realized you may have been asking only about post-processing software, so I'm sorry if the rest doesn't interest you. PixInsight is definitely the way to go for processing though, hands down in my opinion.

Good luck,
-Ara

P.S. Enjoy your observatory under your lovely dark sky...totally jealous waytogo.gif


#6 Sporocyte

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 10:33 PM

Unsolicited but complete and thorough advice is better than lagniappe!

Thank you!

#7 Sporocyte

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 10:36 PM

Dang! I messed up the quote tool!

Totally undermining my carefully constructed facade of competency.
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#8 Sporocyte

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Posted 30 May 2019 - 05:40 PM

Before I retired I worked in image analysis from photography and other sources. The first software I used was a NASA -developed program named ELAS (totally command line) which was commercialized as ERDAS and vastly extended and improved, a largely raster-based system. Later I used ESRI’s ArcMap, a largely vector based environment which is unlikely to have any astronomy application at all.

The reason I mention my background is that some of the imagery techniques used in astrophotography post processing are very familiar to me (histogram stretch, convolutions, etc).

So what software should I look at?

I have a DSLR (Canon TS3i) some manual lenses from 55 mm manual up to a Celestron C90. And a Skywatcher EQ3-r Mount That is on a pier and for which I’m building a roll-off observatory. I live in very rural North Louisiana between Ruston and Natchitoches. Good luck finding that on a map! But it’s pretty dark and I listen to the frogs sing love songs as I look at the stars.

I made a mistake in describing my equipment.  I have an EQ6-r.  I mistyped it as EQ3-r.  Apologies.

 

Also, I would appreciate a strategy check on getting into astrophotography.  My plan is to start by mounting the DSLR on the skywatcher mount and take pictures with the 55mm and learn how to use the software on those photos.  Then gradually move to telephoto then C90.  Ive been doing visual for a year or so and am finally feeling competent with the mount and a 6" f8 reflector (Orion). Seeing is good for a few nights every other month or so.  The rest of the time it's like looking through honey.

 

The consensus advice is to start with a small apo.  I get that, but I think I can accomplish the same by using the camera with various lenses (I concede that quality will likely take a hit, but I'm more interested in technique than quality at this time).

 

I've bought and am studying two books: Legault's "Astrophotography" and Covington's "Digital SLR Astrophotography".  I'm so new at this I'm awed by the Moon, planets, stars, the universe and everything.  On a good night of seeing I always start the night with M31 and M13 if they are up. They are just so amazingly beautiful and the science behind them staggers the mind.

 

Thanks for comments.

 

Moderator, if you want me to start a new thread rather than veer off from the OP, I'll happily oblige.




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