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Messier 16 - The Eagle Nebula / The Pillars of Creation in SHO

Astrophotography DSO Imaging
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#1 pcos

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 09:46 PM

I started doing Astrophotography about two years ago, and this was my third project focusing on M16.  The Eagle Nebula has been a favorite of mine ever since the Hubble Telescope immortalized it with the famous "Pillars of Creation" shot back in 1995.  

 

My first attempt was back 2019 - within a month of getting my first imaging rig.  It was - shall we say - less than perfect..... Ok it was pretty rough:

 

https://astrob.in/421918/B/

 

But it did not matter to me  one bit - I could see the "eagle" and I was elated!

 

In 2020 - under Covid lockdown - I tried it once again.  Two nights of data collection (a first for me) and some careful processing with Pixinsight (which I was pretty new at) and a whole year of experience under my belt  - I was pretty proud of this effort!  It was an "improvement" - I was making progress:

 

https://astrob.in/snp9sh/D/

 

Now we come to this year.  I now had a scope with slightly longer focal length, a brand new ASI2600MM-Pro with a full set of filters, and I now had two years under my belt( just feel the gravitas..)  - this was going to be the ONE.  I planned on 4-5 nights of capture and I would doing  Narrowband capture on M16 for the first time (yay! Hubble Palette!).  It was going to be...EPIC. 

 

Then the Rochester,  NY Monsoon season started.  I did not even know Rochester had a monsoon season - but this year, it DOES. 

 

With the trees on my property I can only get about 3 hours of subs for any given object for one night - thus I was planning on many nights.   I started on the 4th of July and picked up 2 hours of subs before the clouds moved in.  Then I waited for clear skies to return.  And waited. Twice I was all set up in the driveway ready to roll with what looked like clear skies when the clouds again moved in.  Finally last wednesday we had a chance  - just a chance - of a clear night.   We still some thin clouds coming and going AND the smoke plume from out west had finally passed over Rochester skies -but I was desperate as the moon was coming and M16 was getting out of reach because of my tree line.  

 

So I went for it.   I got about two more hours of before thin clouds shut me down. Again. 

 

So four hours of questionable data was what I had to work with,   I had no choice but to do some very careful processing.  I managed to keep more subs that I would usually do by leveraging the new NormaliseScaleGradients script (It did a marvelous job!).   I carefully tweaked  ImageIntegration so that I had my rejection parameters really doing their job.   I gained a lot from a very careful application of Deconvolution and using a few tricks I had picked up from the Adam Block Studio video series. I used Mure noise reduction for the first time and it did a wonderful job,  After two and half days of obsessive image processing (why process it one way when you can process it 4 or 5 ways at every step and see what looks better!)  I finally got a result which was not too bad given the challenges and poor data.   I had a lot of problems with star images but I think I managed that  (they are still ugly - just less so). 

 

So after a miserable season so far - I was reasonably happy with result I got. 

 

But next year - that's going to be the year I really do M16 justice!  Watch out Hubble, I am coming for you.... ;-)

 

M16crop7-717-21-WM-small.jpg

 

Full Res version can be seen at: https://astrob.in/4g6jw4/0/

 

Thanks for looking!

PCos

----

 

Capture Information

 

Lights Frames
18 x 300 seconds, bin 1x1 @ -15C, Gain 100.0, Astronmiks 6nm Ha Filter
14 x 300 seconds, bin 1x1 @ -15C, Gain 100.0, Astronmiks 6nm OIII Filter
15 x 300 seconds, bin 1x1 @ -15C, Gain 100.0, Astronomik 6nm SII Filter
Total of 3.9 hours

 

Cal Frames
30 Darks at 300 seconds, bin 1x1, -15C, gain 100
25 Dark Flats at Flat exposure times, bin 1x1, -15C, gain 100
Flats done separately for each evening to account for camera rotator variances:
   25 Ha Flats
   25 OIII Flats
   25 SII Flats

 

Capture Hardware
Scope:                   Astrophysics 130mm Starfire F/8.35 APO refractor
Guide Scope:        Televue 76mm Doublet
Camera:                ZWO AS2600mm-pro with

Filter Wheel:          ZWO 7x36 Filter wheel

Filters:                   ZWO LRGB filter set Gen II
                             Astronomiks 6nm Narrowband filter set
Guide Camera:     ZWO ASI290Mini
Focus Motor:        Pegasus Astro Focus Cube 2
Camera Rotator:  Pegasus Astro Falcon
Mount: Ioptron     CEM60
Polar Alignment:  Polemaster camera

 

Software

Capture Software: PHD2 Guider, Sequence Generator Pro controller,
Image Processing: Pixinsight, Photoshop - assisted by Coffee, extensive processing, obsessive focus (who needs sleep - I pixels calling me), massive indecision and second-guessing, editor regret and much swearing…..

 



#2 Mert

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 01:37 AM

That's a great image, beautiful colors.
The pillars really stand out well.

CS
Mert
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#3 ArandomPilot

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 02:17 AM

Stunning, love the pillars!


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#4 sbharrat

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 05:05 PM

Wow. The resolution and detail near the pillars is stunning. It's like you snapped a photo from a few yards away. 


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#5 PhotonHunter1

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 09:44 PM

Incredible progress over the past two years, and a fantastic image - well done!



#6 pcos

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 09:58 PM

That's a great image, beautiful colors.
The pillars really stand out well.

CS
Mert

Thanks Mert -  appreciate your kind comment!

 

CS,

Pat



#7 pcos

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 10:00 PM

Stunning, love the pillars!

Thanks!  On this image - you really have to highlight the pillars - I think they are such a cool feature!

 

CS,

Pat



#8 pcos

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 10:03 PM

Wow. The resolution and detail near the pillars is stunning. It's like you snapped a photo from a few yards away. 

Thank you - I'm somewhat amazed that it came out this well given the conditions of capture.  It really does make me want to go back again and see what some really good nights and maybe a dozen hours of integration could do this this setup!

 

CS,

Pat



#9 Creedence

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 10:19 PM

Fantastic story, culminated with an unbelievable result- congratulations!  Your processing looks fantastic as well.

 

I notice your equipment has evolved with you over the two years since the first image (OTA, camera, narrow band filters, etc).  How instrumental have the equipment upgrades been to your imaging, and what item would you say had the biggest impact for you?


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#10 pcos

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 02:57 PM

Fantastic story, culminated with an unbelievable result- congratulations!  Your processing looks fantastic as well.

 

I notice your equipment has evolved with you over the two years since the first image (OTA, camera, narrow band filters, etc).  How instrumental have the equipment upgrades been to your imaging, and what item would you say had the biggest impact for you?

Thank you! You raise a really good question!

 

The ASI2600MM-Pro is clearly a huge leg up - I love the results I am getting from that camera!

 

The AP-130 Starfire has about 100mm greater focal length than the William Optics 132 - so that helps - a little. 

 

Honestly - the biggest help has been the extra year of experience under my belt, the fact that I have worked hard to up my processing game.  I don't believe the "me" of one year ago could have gotten this image out of that data I had. 

 

I hope the "me" of one year from now can say the same thing!

 

Pat 


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#11 Creedence

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 03:27 PM

I'm working on a similar evolution trying to hone my acquisition and processing skills, etc., and I also began around two years ago with a start in EAA (although you certainly are developing at a more impressive clip).  The 2600 is high on the list of priorities for me, and it's interesting to me that you chose that to highlight out of all the items in your kit).

 

I'll watch with interest for more of your images; thanks for sharing!


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#12 pcos

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 08:16 PM

I'm working on a similar evolution trying to hone my acquisition and processing skills, etc., and I also began around two years ago with a start in EAA (although you certainly are developing at a more impressive clip).  The 2600 is high on the list of priorities for me, and it's interesting to me that you chose that to highlight out of all the items in your kit).

 

I'll watch with interest for more of your images; thanks for sharing!

May I make a suggestion?  I feel like I have watched every pixinsight video on YouTube and have every book that talks about pixinsight. They all helped - but for the most part, they say - do this and then do that. Very formulaic.

 

I like the videos that Adam Block does.  I like them because he explores how each tool works. He talks about what is under the hood.  He explains why and how things work the way they do.  I like that approach.  I bought into his Foundation series of videos.  Expensive - well yes - that was my first reaction.  Then I thought about how much money I have in gear - the cost of the video series is a drop in the bucket compared to that.  I feel I have learned a tremendous amount over the last two months. I feel as though I can think through processing issues better now and use the tools much more effectively. 

 

My sense was that my first year and a half was all about basic blocking and tackling.  Doing what you have to do in order to capture quality data in a repeatable fashion. Not I think it is about processing and getting the best image you can get from the data you have.  

 

All the best,

Pat


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#13 Endymion

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 09:43 PM

Wow, beautiful image!   How did you avoid having the image come out mostly green with the SHO mapping and how did you get the stars more white?  Here's the best I could do with SHO data I've taken recently.  I'm new to PixInsight processing and would appreciate some pointers on how to improve this.  

 

Eagle Nebula SII Ha OIII

 

Thanks for any help,

John



#14 pcos

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 10:02 PM

Wow, beautiful image!   How did you avoid having the image come out mostly green with the SHO mapping and how did you get the stars more white?  Here's the best I could do with SHO data I've taken recently.  I'm new to PixInsight processing and would appreciate some pointers on how to improve this.  

 

 

 

Thanks for any help,

John

Hi John,

 

All SHO images - once combined look green.  Think about it - typically the strongest signal - Ha, is mapped to green - thus the resulting image come out with a green balance.   Here is what I did on this image regarding color:

 

1. I manually adjusted the Non-linear versions of the Ha, O2, & S2 images so that they seemed to have a common black point and about the same level of contrast by using the histogram and curves tool.  Some people use LinearFit for this, but I like the control I get doing it manually.

 

2. I then combine the images and then run SCNR to remove the green.  This typically leaves some magena in the sky and around the stars. 

 

3. Some people then do a color mask for magenta to select the stars and the other magenta areas and desaturate these areas.  I do this too, but sometimes I use an alternative method - which is what I did for this image. I inverted the image (making an color negative like view of the image).  Now the areas that were too magenta now look green.  What tool gets the green out? SCNR!  I apply this and then invert the image back again.  This sets me up or the base color.  I then manage saturations on various colors with the curves tool saturation curve or the Sat tool that allows be to manage it by hue.  Occasionally I will make a mask for a predominant color and then use R,G, B  curves in the curves tool to tweak colors  a wee bit. 

 

That's the basics. I don't know if others do it this way, but I always have and I like the results I get.

 

Hope that helps,

Pat



#15 Endymion

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 06:57 AM

Thanks Pat!

#16 Endymion

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 09:42 PM

Pat,

  Your process for green removal and magenta around stars removal works wonders.   Here's the result when I applied it to my image:

 

Eagle Nebula SII Ha OIII Green Removal

 

 

Thanks!

 

John


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#17 pcos

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 10:27 PM

Pat,

  Your process for green removal and magenta around stars removal works wonders.   Here's the result when I applied it to my image:

 

 

 

 

Thanks!

 

John

John - your image looks great!  Now you have lots of fun things you can do to make it look even better!

 

This is a super simple method - it does not always work - but it's a great method to have in your back pocket!

 

Glad it worked out for you!

Pat

 

P.S. - my personal Astro webpage just went live in case you'd like to see my other images and equipment setups. 

 

https://www.CosgrovesCosmos.com.



#18 rj144

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 02:34 AM

This is, to me, almost Hubble quality.  Which is crazy because you took it from your yard.  ;)

 

Great job!


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#19 pcos

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 06:15 AM

This is, to me, almost Hubble quality.  Which is crazy because you took it from your yard.  wink.gif

 

Great job!

Thanks so much!  That may be the nicest compliment that I have ever gotten on one of my images! 

 

Pat


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#20 stargzr66207

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 01:15 PM

The full rez version of your image is stunning!  Great work.

Ron Abbott


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#21 Creedence

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 01:17 PM

May I make a suggestion?  I feel like I have watched every pixinsight video on YouTube and have every book that talks about pixinsight. They all helped - but for the most part, they say - do this and then do that. Very formulaic.

 

I like the videos that Adam Block does.  I like them because he explores how each tool works. He talks about what is under the hood.  He explains why and how things work the way they do.  I like that approach.  I bought into his Foundation series of videos.  Expensive - well yes - that was my first reaction.  Then I thought about how much money I have in gear - the cost of the video series is a drop in the bucket compared to that.  I feel I have learned a tremendous amount over the last two months. I feel as though I can think through processing issues better now and use the tools much more effectively. 

 

My sense was that my first year and a half was all about basic blocking and tackling.  Doing what you have to do in order to capture quality data in a repeatable fashion. Not I think it is about processing and getting the best image you can get from the data you have.  

 

All the best,

Pat

 

You hit the nail on the head right there.  I can replicate the techniques seen on processing tutorials, but it's the why and how that are missing which would let me take my own creative license as I see fit.  Thanks so much for pointing me to Adam Block, I look forward to reviewing his material.


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#22 pcos

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 03:27 PM

The full rez version of your image is stunning!  Great work.

Ron Abbott

Ron - thanks so much for taking the time to check it out and provide the feedback!  Very much appreciated!

 

Pat




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