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First small step with Andromeda with a Star Adventurer and Canon at 200mm

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#1 kevinbreen

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 01:09 PM

Howdy 

 

I've been planeting and mooning for nearly 3 years here in the south east of Ireland with enough success that I'm really looking forward to Mars' return later next year. In the meantime I've been spending a considerable amount of time on this forum and Youtube intrigued by DSO imaging. I'm absolutely gobsmacked at the incredible quality of the images here. In particular I'm very excited about what is possible with just a star tracker and a humble DSLR (mine's an unmodded Canon 600D, or t3i as it's also known). I got delivery of a Skywatcher Star Adventurer earlier this week and managed to polar align the thing two nights ago. Yay! Then I kicked the tripod accidentally..... not so Yay! but then I nudged it again accidentally, Yay! Two wrongs must have made a right because I managed to not only locate Andromeda but also get it on the sensor of my camera. I used a wider-fov 50mm f/1.8 nifty fifty to first of all figure out where it was, then I adjusted a camera to put it in the centre of the live view screen, then I switched lenses to my Sigma 70-300mm zoom. The whole exercise was a proof of concept to see if I could get anywhere with this modest rig and while some will no doubt sniff at the image I show here, I'm blown away that I got a pic of Andromeda at all. This is a 191 second exposure at 200mm at f/5.6 ISO 800. I kept pushing and pushing the focal length to see when star trailing became a major issue. Clearly 191 seconds is overly optimistic and a shorter exposure would have been better at a higher ISO. Clearly my focus could have been better here I might add. The next step will be to take a pile of images at maybe 60 seconds, then darks, flats and other stuff I have never done before and see what that yields. I live in a Bortle 4-5 zone, which is pretty decent, but on this night there was low wispy cloud redirecting the nearby town's light my way. So here's my first post on this forum. Lovely, isn't it?? rofl2.gif

a2d4540f-a167-4c63-8e13-b8637be91f67.jpg

Kev


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#2 DubbelDerp

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 01:21 PM

Nice! That’s way better than my first image of andromeda. Especially for a single frame. Go grab seven or eight hours worth of exposures like those and prepare to be blown away! With my t3i, I think I did 90 seconds at iso 800 from Bortle 3-4 skies. 


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#3 Alen K

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 01:42 PM

Keep at it! Once you find an exposure length that tracks well, just keep doing them. Here's what I got when I kept plugging away with a 200mm lens over a couple of nights. 

 

get.jpg?insecure


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#4 kevinbreen

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 01:50 PM

Keep at it! Once you find an exposure length that tracks well, just keep doing them. Here's what I got when I kept plugging away with a 200mm lens over a couple of nights. 

 

get.jpg?insecure

Wow, that's impressive!



#5 B l a k S t a r

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 02:17 PM

I like it. I'm a fan of single shot pics that are "just like I saw" or just beyond what I saw. 


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#6 Slslinde

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 02:20 PM

Could I get this at bottle 4-5


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#7 kevinbreen

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 02:22 PM

Could I get this at bottle 4-5

Depends what you're using



#8 agavephoto

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 03:09 PM

Could I get this at bottle 4-5

Yes!



#9 JDShoots

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 04:52 PM

......Clearly 191 seconds is overly optimistic and a shorter exposure would have been better at a higher ISO. Clearly my focus could have been better here I might add. The next step will be to take a pile of images at maybe 60 seconds, then darks, flats and other stuff I have never done before and see what that yields. I live in a Bortle 4-5 zone, which is pretty decent, but on this night there was low wispy cloud redirecting the nearby town's light my way. So here's my first post on this forum. Lovely, isn't it?? rofl2.gif

 

Kev

Kev, Nice!  The excitement is real.   Just under 4 months ago I was having similar emotions, amazement in what we can do with some basic equipment.   

I agree, drop to 60 seconds, and take a pile of them, 3+ hours worth, it will be a jaw dropping, put a smile on your face experience you will enjoy for a long time.  

 

Could I get this at bottle 4-5

As already said, YES.  Just do it!  (that sounds familiar:)  I mean assuming it is in our sky:)  AND if you can do like Kev is getting ready to do, stacking hours of 60 second pictures taken from a tracking mount, you will do a lot better then this.  



#10 Foc

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 07:26 PM

Hi Kevin,

 

Like you I have just started playing with a Star Adventurer and a DSLR (in my case a Nikon D5600) after doing most of my planetary imaging for this year.

 

As well as a nifty fifty I have been using the Redcat, which given its weight and focal length requires more precise technique than I have so far been using to get roundish stars or a sharp focus. We only get a brief go at Andromeda just above the horizon this far South and even driving out to a park on the edge of the city the sky is pretty murky and with my rudimentary processing effort in APP and GIMP you can see I have not cleaned up the resulting image well. But like you I was impressed to see Andromeda show up in the camera and stacking even 20 X 90 second lights starts to produce a nice-ish image, even if it should be posted in a Square Galaxy thread!  Anyway it is all a bit of fun and a smattering of DSO pics add a bit of variety to my astro year book

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  • Sqaure brown galaxy.jpg

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#11 Mako72

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 03:48 PM

As was said, keep plugging away. Tried M-31 a couple of weeks ago (T6i/200mm/SkyTracker) only to find my red dot was not working. Trying to find M-31 directly overhead by sighting along the lens barrel was loads of fun. The next night set the intervalometer for 50 shots only later to find the LCD screen jammed against the mount. blush.gif


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#12 kevinbreen

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 02:46 PM

Thanks all for the feedback!

 

Foc (Is that your first name?!), that's a mighty fine image you got there. I had another stab at Andromeda on Friday night. A whole pile of fun trying to locate it... and this time I used a piece of tape to hold the focus ring from slipping as it tends to because the camera is almost vertical. Clouds made an unwelcome appearance pretty soon however and I only managed to get 13 2-min RAW frames, ISO 800, 200mm. This was not my original plan (I had planned on doing some 60 second exposures, but somehow I went off script) but this image is better than the previous one, so I'm posting it.

 

I haven't a clue how to use Photoshop but I managed to sledgehammer some detail out of the TIF. Clearly my processing deserves some work! And where the hell did the red colour come from??

 

This just blows me away! No telescope, just a DSLR and a cheap Sigma lens. Wonderful fun!

 

Check out the red and blue blobs. Are these "hot pixels"? 

 

ANDROMEDA JPEG (2).jpg


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#13 DubbelDerp

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 03:00 PM

That’s looking good! Nice improvement. Yes, those are hot pixels. Snap some darks, and they should go away. Jerry Lodriguss’s books and website are a really good reference for getting started on post processing... http://www.astropix.com/.
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#14 Foc

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Posted 10 December 2019 - 03:25 AM

Hi Kevin,

A lot of detail in your second image.  A bit of reversal where with the planets I often had the problem of imaging where they were nearly vertical and you were challenged with them near the horizon and now with Andromeda the shoe is on the other foot.

And thanks, I appreciate the praise, my Andromeda pic and similar should at least be good enough to show the relo's and saves me putting up  a more boring 20 pages of Jupiter or the moon!  While, judging from your dedication and planetary progress this year your efforts will soon outshine mine.

 

If it helps you get an easier start, I found that stacking in Astropixel Processer and using the automatic stretching routine their provided (ie the total Newbe and lazy approach to astrophotograpy) greatly improved the image in making the stars look a bit more like stars and got rid of light gradients and the color caste.  After that I just played in GIMP to attempt to overcome the effects of  limited lights (I did not quite understand how long to set the delay between exposures in my intervalometer and so did not capture nearly as many as expected). Although a smaller exposure time should be easier to get sharper stars, I am a bit put off by how quickly using a very short exposures speeds your camera to the alleged typical shutter life of 100,000 and so I have been aiming to try and get 1.5 minutes.  Lucky I got some work done in October as smoke from the recent bushfires here have put paid to imaging for a while.

 

Cheers

 

Ross


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#15 Alen K

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Posted 10 December 2019 - 10:05 PM

I had another stab at Andromeda on Friday night. A whole pile of fun trying to locate it... and this time I used a piece of tape to hold the focus ring from slipping as it tends to because the camera is almost vertical. Clouds made an unwelcome appearance pretty soon however and I only managed to get 13 2-min RAW frames, ISO 800, 200mm. This was not my original plan (I had planned on doing some 60 second exposures, but somehow I went off script) but this image is better than the previous one, so I'm posting it.

 

I haven't a clue how to use Photoshop but I managed to sledgehammer some detail out of the TIF. Clearly my processing deserves some work! And where the hell did the red colour come from??

 

Decent tracking and focus this time around. As for the red, I would assume it has something to do with your processing. If you post your subs somewhere, someone here might have the time to see what they can do with them. (I'm not sure if one of those someones would be me.) 

 

One thing confuses me. With 200mm on an APS-C camera your field of view should be quite similar to that of the image I linked above. Yet both images you posted are severely cropped, and the cropping is not symmetrical. I recommend you center the nucleus of M31 in the (cropped) frame and give it a little more breathing room. 


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#16 kevinbreen

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 03:29 AM

Hi Alen

 

You're right, I'm cropping severely and chopping off some of the object. I was having real problems doing pretty much anything in PS, including cropping. Disaster last night - I shot 36 50" lights only to realise when the battery finally drained (another story) that they were all jpegs. The tracking seemed ok so I tried stacking them anyway but DSS didn't like it and the resulting autosave.tif was a very grey and star-trailed abomination. I did check first to see how many stars were detectable and it was 160+.... not sure if this makes any difference here. 

Anyway, despite my best intentions I've just ditched last night's data and I'm doing my best to forget about it as my porridge cools. 

 

K



#17 Alen K

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 02:38 PM

If you have truly "ditched" your data there might not be any opportunity, but Sequator could probably stack those jpgs without problems. Much easier to use than DSS, faster and as with DSS it is free. 



#18 kevinbreen

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 03:29 PM

If you have truly "ditched" your data there might not be any opportunity, but Sequator could probably stack those jpgs without problems. Much easier to use than DSS, faster and as with DSS it is free.


I’ll take a look at Sequator, thanks.
I since discovered that the dovetail that attaches to the base of the Star Adventurer was loose and initially thought it was the culprit. But I fished the pics out of the recycle bin and they look ok, no star trailing, well, very little. So if the subs are ok I don’t understand how DSS produced a smudge. Very strange indeed, to newbie me anyway.

I’ll fish them out for the second time and try again.

#19 kevinbreen

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Posted 18 December 2019 - 06:17 AM

Here is attempt number 4. Attempt number 3 was a disaster - 90 mins of blurred shots. I've been finding it really difficult to focus but I got decent focus last night, between snow flurries and clouds and freezing temperatures. This is a the result of stacking 12 60-second RAW images at 300mm with Canon 600D and a Sigma 70-300mm zoom lens on a Star Tracker. A lot of fun, eventually.

 

It says "Be Amazed" on the Star Adventurer box, and I am!

 

Andromeda.jpg


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#20 B l a k S t a r

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Posted 18 December 2019 - 12:41 PM

I am no photographer, to my eye that shot looks well focused throughout with good contrast showing dust lane details quite well.  Nicely done.  Any post processing done?


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#21 kevinbreen

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Posted 19 December 2019 - 10:00 AM

Post processing? Yes, 😂😂😂, I processed it the best I could in photoshop, stretching the histogram and adjusting the curves. But I’m not very good at it which is apparent from the blue colour over all. And the core is blown out completely.
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#22 JDShoots

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Posted 19 December 2019 - 06:58 PM

...I've been finding it really difficult to focus

...12 60-second RAW images ....

 

It says "Be Amazed" on the Star Adventurer box, and I am!

I hear you I am amazed too!  I am still in jaw drop mode (for the last 4 or 5 months) when I look at what I've been able to capture with my equipment and the help of this group.  I had NO IDEA what 300mms was able to see.  Post processing is a bear, there are lots of tutorials out there, I started with this one but later bought Startools.  

 

Are you using  a Bahtinov mask to help focus?   That would be a big help for you if you are not.  The guy above, Nico, did a video on them too.  I bought mine on amazon for less then 20 bucks US.  

 

Why 12 minutes?  I found early on, in this group, that the more the merrier.  I express my integrated time in hours not minutes.  My last run at M31 was just under 3 hours.  But check out that recent post from a guy who had 7 hours on it.  

Keep it up, there are so many targets out there.  


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#23 kevinbreen

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 05:50 AM

I hear you I am amazed too!  I am still in jaw drop mode (for the last 4 or 5 months) when I look at what I've been able to capture with my equipment and the help of this group.  I had NO IDEA what 300mms was able to see.  Post processing is a bear, there are lots of tutorials out there, I started with this one but later bought Startools.  

 

Are you using  a Bahtinov mask to help focus?   That would be a big help for you if you are not.  The guy above, Nico, did a video on them too.  I bought mine on amazon for less then 20 bucks US.  

 

Why 12 minutes?  I found early on, in this group, that the more the merrier.  I express my integrated time in hours not minutes.  My last run at M31 was just under 3 hours.  But check out that recent post from a guy who had 7 hours on it.  

Keep it up, there are so many targets out there.  

Why 12 mins? Clouds!

I'll check out a Bahtinov mask for the DSLR. Just got a birthday present this morning of a light pollution filter (how did she know? lol.gif ), so that should help things also. I'd seen that guy Nico's video a while back but had forgotten about it again, thanks for the reminder.

 

Kev



#24 DubbelDerp

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 10:44 AM

Post processing is hard... but it got a lot easier once I started using Astro Pixel Processor for stacking and initial post processing. Most of the time, the output from it is good enough to call "done." The only times I have to resort to brute force through Photoshop or GIMP is if the data was bad to begin with. Highly recommend it, especially with the 30-day trial.



#25 JDShoots

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 10:46 AM

Why 12 mins? Clouds!

I'll check out a Bahtinov mask for the DSLR. Just got a birthday present this morning of a light pollution filter (how did she know? lol.gif ), so that should help things also. I'd seen that guy Nico's video a while back but had forgotten about it again, thanks for the reminder.

 

Kev

Clouds!  

 

The mask I bought for my 300mm is here, but they have many, and some may fit your lens hood better then others.  I usually pick a really bright star to set my focus, and then turn to the target.   Just watch you don't but the focus ring in the process.  I also added a velcro strap around my focus ring where it meets the lens body to add some friction and help prevent the focus from changing on its own.  

 

Nice on the LP filter, hopefully that helps with the post processing a bit!  




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