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A little encouragement for those starting out.

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#1 Professor2112

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 10:31 PM

Hello all, as some of you may have seen, I just finished a 7hr HaLRGB integration on m101 recently.  Well it just so happens to be about a year since my first attempt at this target back when I had only a month or two AP experience, or any astronomy experience for that matter.  So I decided to do a side by side comparison of my latest version of m101 using an asi2600mm pro, TS Photoline 130/910, and my trusty cem70. Guided with the zwo m68 oag/asi120mm mini vs my first attempt almost a year ago using a cpc1100 on HD pro wedge at prime focus f/10, canon 5dmkii unmodded, and an Orion ct80 guidescope with SSAG pro guide cam(between 3-3.5hrs integration). I think the images speak for themselves. 

My whole reason for this post is simple.  If you really have the desire to research best practices in this hobby, follow the advice of those who have succeeded, and also willing to be patient enough to let yourself progress in steps and solve things one at a time, you’ll be amazed at how your images will get better and better over time.  So if you really love imaging the night sky and get stuck in a rut from time to time, don’t give up!  Trust me, there’s been times I’ve wanted to throw my gear out the window, sell it, etc.  But after a brief cool down and some research I found my way out and every bit of this hobby good and bad has been worth it to me so far.  
 

So with all that said, here’s my before and after. I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to tell which image is whichcool.gif   I’m hoping I can get some of you more experienced imagers to post some similar comparison images and/or some encouraging stories of how you overcame some of the beginner challenges that can plague a lot of us in this hobby, especially at first. 

I know as a beginner every bit of encouragement can help so this post basically revolves around that.  And remember, there are members here willing to really go above and beyond to help someone that’s struggling. So don’t hesitate to ask for help, no matter how “dumb” you may think your question is.  Remember there are no such things as stupid questions, the only thing stupid is not asking in the first place!

 

Clear skies

 

Andrew

 

 

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#2 bobzeq25

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 11:32 PM

  I’m hoping I can get some of you more experienced imagers to post some similar comparison images and/or some encouraging stories of how you overcame some of the beginner challenges that can plague a lot of us in this hobby, especially at first. 
 

This do?  <smile>  Your setup cost what?  This (last image) was about $1500 including the software, $1000 of which was in the mount.  At least I got that right.  <smile>

 

https://www.cloudyni...ngs-get-better/


Edited by bobzeq25, 20 June 2021 - 11:38 PM.

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#3 mackiedlm

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 11:00 AM

Nice idea and I'm glad to join in though I'm not sure I meet the requirement of "experienced".

 

I tell people that AP is one of the most complicated and technically difficult things I've ever done, but thats what makes it one of the most satisfying things I've done. I agree with everything in the OP - take time to learn both acquisition and processing, get kit that is the best you can manage and work hard at it and you will see progress.

 

This was my first Andromeda in which you could actually make out what it was. Back in late 2019 when I was only a few months into this. Taken with a DSLR (mod) on a star adventurer and a vintage 135mm Pentacon lens

Andromeda galaxy sj.jpg

 

This was about a year later when I had upgraded to a full EQ mount, and a SW 80ED scope but still the DSLR and had worked really hard to learn processing.

Andromeda_HDR_Final_lb.jpg

 

Not sure I'd ever looked at them side by side before! Quite the difference but BOY! was i proud of that first one. smile.gif 


Edited by mackiedlm, 21 June 2021 - 11:04 AM.

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#4 colinrm

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 12:17 PM

That's probably my favorite part about this hobby, the myriad of ways to improve, learn, and advance!

 

Here's my improvement on M51 over the last three years.

 

m51-improvement-2.jpg

 

2019 was a 12" f/5 dobsonian with a D5300 on a tracking platform

2020 was a 12" f/4 Newtonian with a D5300 on an EQ8-R with autofocus

2021 was a 12" f/4 Newtonian with an ASI2600MC, plus I learned patience for getting lots of data and a bit about processing


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#5 idclimber

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 12:41 PM

The first image was done with my SCT in the Alt AZ mount using a lodestar camera and setup for EAA (2016). I still recall how ecstatic I was to see how much more detail I could see compared to using an eyepiece. I believe the image is reversed because I was shooting through my diagonal to get the backspace out with what I had. 

 

The second image was taken in the last month. I am still collecting Ha to add to this image. It is the same scope after a few upgrades to my system. Well, more accurately quite a few upgrades! The only piece equipment in common is the scope, everything including the mount, focuser, reducer, camera, etc. have been replaced.

 

I will say to any beginner that is interested in imaging with these big scopes to also get a small refractor. My learning curve was greatly improved with the smaller scope. There is no way I would have acquired the skills needed to image at this scale just using the larger scope. 

 

Image_2016.5.1_23.20.14.jpg

 

M101 Pinwheel - 12" SCT

 


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#6 Professor2112

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 12:42 PM

Awesome stuff guys!  And no need to judge yourself as “experienced”.  It’s the improvement over time and the learning experiences we’re after!  I’d post a better reply but not much left on my lunch break. I’ll check in later! Cheers!



#7 klaussius

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 09:29 PM

Improvement comes in multiple dimensions. Acquisition, calibration, equipment, processing.

 

As I progressed, things that seemed really difficult at first, started becoming easier.

 

I'm not going to sugar coat it, throwing money at the problem does help. But money is no substitute for experience either. The TLDR is that most often than not, equipment will not be the limiting factor. Until it is.

 

Here's an example that involves both.

 

My first attempt at the running chicken was really tough. You can see the nebula in the image, but it took a lot of effort to bring it out, to the point that I really thought this might be the limit of what I can do under my skies (B9, not forgiving at all):

 

lambda_cen_b48_v13_stretch.jpg

 

I was barely starting back then, and the equipment I used for that shot was truly entry level. A stock Canon T4i, a travelscope 70 as imaging scope, and a non-goto NEQ5 as mount. Unguided.

 

The image may not show it, as the compression and resizing needed for CN hides it under jpeg artifacts, but the image is noisy as hell and not very detailed. I never liked that image much, but I like the target, so I kept trying.

 

My latest attempt, about 2 years later:

 

lambda_cen.HHOO.crop.final.jpg

 

This time I used a cooled astro cam (QHY163m) and narrowband filters (Antlia 3.5nm Ha and OIII). Same mount, a newtonian SW Explorer 150PDS as imaging scope, and this time guided.

 

But equipment is not the whole picture, not at all.

 

This shot of M8 was taken also way back, when I was barely starting:

 

lagoon_b32_cls_sg64_yuvsg256_stretch.jpg

 

I'm not going into equipment details, because it's not the point. This is the same data, reprocessed a year later:

 

lagoon_composite_final_nr_stretch_deconv.jpg

 

As you can see, experience, especially in processing, can make a huge difference. A big part of the journey is learning how to process the images.

 

Always reprocess your old data. You may have more than you thought you had.


Edited by klaussius, 21 June 2021 - 10:52 PM.

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#8 Jared

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Posted 22 June 2021 - 12:18 AM

Here is an example...

 

First, a shot of M101 I took in 2007 when I was just starting out in astrophotography (good heavens I must be old--this seems like last week!) I'm pretty sure this was my first galaxy image ever.

 

M101_2007.jpg

 

And here is the same subject a year later in 2008... At least I didn't flip it this time. Actually, there is some pretty decent progress with this one.

 

M101_2008.jpg

 

And here it is from this spring.

 

M101_2021.jpg

 

Not entirely sure what equipment I used for the first two. I think the first one was with an SBIG ST2000XCM with an AO-7 adaptive optics unit (given that the image is flipped). It would have been mounted on a Losmandy GM8 using a William Optics FLT-110 OTA--the original one with optics made by TEC.  The second image was with a (then) brand new STL-11000 and a used AP-130 on a brand new Mach1 mount. Just goes to show you even the best equipment available doesn't guarantee good results. The last image was made using a QHY600 attached to a Riccardi-Honders 305mm f/3.7 mounted on an AP1100GTO. Budget has never been the barrier to my image quality. It's the combination of skills and light pollution. All three images were taken entirely with data from Oakland, CA under Bortle 8-9 skies (depending on the moon and my neighbor's lights).


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#9 Professor2112

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Posted 22 June 2021 - 05:30 PM

These are seriously good.  I’m not even a beginner anymore but these sure are inspiring to me!  



#10 Peregrinatum

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Posted 22 June 2021 - 06:05 PM

keep up the good work, if you stay at it your images will keep improving!!




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