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My first full astro-photo: M51

Astrophotography
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#1 belliott4488

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Posted 03 May 2021 - 05:16 PM

This is my first pass through the basic steps of an astrophotograph, meaning that I avoided any major blunders* going through the process. Now that I've shown that I can get that far, I'll start to refine my skills and (hopefully) improve the quality of the results. So far I'm using the default recommended settings in Deep Sky Stacker and haven't yet started experimenting with changing those. I used GIMP to adjust the image, and there's always more to learn there as well.

 

Comments, advice, suggestions, advice, or admonishments all welcome!

 

*When I was putting my white tee shirt on the scope for flats, I did bump the camera, which turned out not to have been locked in place tightly enough. I tried to rotate it back in place, but I could have been off by a couple of degrees, which could explain the slight vignetting.

 

1st attempt at M51

 

30 x 40 sec exposures; same number of dark, flat, and bias frames

Stacked in DSS using default settings; stretched in GIMP

Nikon D3000 DSLR; ES N208CF 8" Newt with HP coma corrector on iOptron CEM40 mount

no auto-guiding


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#2 asanmax

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Posted 03 May 2021 - 07:54 PM

I think it's a good image to start.

You've got a good mount and a good scope.

Suggestions?

I'd start autoguiding for sure, you have a very capable mount.

I would also get a better camera.

If you are a fan of Nikon, then you would be amazed by what a modified D5300/D5500/D5600 could do, especially with the nebula season fast approaching.


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#3 belliott4488

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Posted 03 May 2021 - 08:15 PM

I think it's a good image to start.

You've got a good mount and a good scope.

Suggestions?

I'd start autoguiding for sure, you have a very capable mount.

I would also get a better camera.

If you are a fan of Nikon, then you would be amazed by what a modified D5300/D5500/D5600 could do, especially with the nebula season fast approaching.

Thanks - those are all on my list of advancements, budget allowing.

 

The biggest question is really, "How far do you go?" It's pretty clear that you're never "done", so I'm still trying to figure out how much will be enough for me.



#4 asanmax

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Posted 03 May 2021 - 08:40 PM

Thanks - those are all on my list of advancements, budget allowing.

 

The biggest question is really, "How far do you go?" It's pretty clear that you're never "done", so I'm still trying to figure out how much will be enough for me.

Absolutely! That's the beauty of this hobby, you never get bored, there is always room for improvement.


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#5 Trenor

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 08:01 AM

Nice photo. It seems like you are off to a good start.

 

Be sure and keep all your original data so you can revisit it as your processing improves. 


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#6 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 10:04 AM

For a first effort? That's a fantastic start. My suggestions would be to gather a lot more data. Total integration time is the key metric and 20 minutes is not even scratching the surface. As someone who owns the CEM40, I know how good a mount it is. Good polar alignment will get you very good unguided performance. You can also use PEC (that's periodic error correction) to help you even more (go into the advance features to find it).

 

med_gallery_347158_15202_832908.png

 

Basically, turn on your mount, slew it somewhere and have it start tracking. Then, click the Periodic Error Correction button, then click the "Start Record Periodic Error" button. Let it run through to completion. Once that's done, you'll then click the radio button for "Playback Enabled" and then "Confirm". What does this do? It creates a profile of your mount's tracking characteristics and adjusts for the periodic error - giving you smoother, better tracking. Caveat - do NOT use this with guiding when you do finally get a guiding solution. For some reason, the two do not play nicely together on iOptron mounts.


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#7 belliott4488

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 04:33 PM

@Trenor - Indeed! I've learned that astro photographs are never finished - only abandoned! wink.gif

 

@johnnybravo0311 - Yes, I stopped at 20 minutes because I was really trying only to get through all the steps and make sure I knew what I was doing. Producing a stellar image (ha ha ha) was not really a goal this time around.

 

Thank you for the advice on the CEM40, though! I haven't even seen that app - I've only run the iPolar software. I need to delve into this!




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