I am about to undertake a big mosaic project - The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). This will be my biggest ever mosaic project; I have only done up to 6 panels previously, this one is 16 panels! Going to be a good challenge!
I am pondering how I should approach this projects in terms of sub-exposures.
My equipment is a TAK FSQ106 @ F5 with a SBIG8300M, giving my a resolution of 2.1as/px. My sky conditions is pretty average backyard - bortle 5-6.
My usual approach is shooting Lum unbinned 5min sub-exposures, R,G,B binned 2x2 3min sub-exposures. I usually aim to get at least 3hr total integration time, split 1:1 Lum (+- 18 subs - 1.5hrs) vs RGB (+-10subs - 30min each channel). This is usually a good starting image.
With the big mosaic I am wondering if I should change things up a bit...
Options I am considering:
- Shooting only RGB, all bin1x1. Shooting 3min subs each, 20 subs per channel - 3hrs total per frame
- LRGB with reduced exposure times. 3min Lum subs (unbinned) 30subs - 1.5hr). 90s RGB (binned) subs (20subs - 30min each channel - 1.5hrs total) - also 3hrs total per frame
- My 'regular' LRGB. 5min Lum subs (unbinned) 18subs - 1.5hr. 3min RGB (binned) subs (10subs - 30min each channel - 1.5hrs total) - targeting 3hrs
What in your experience is more important with regards to mosaics, going 'deeper' with a few longer exposures, or trying to get better SNR with more shorter subs?
The SMC is also a unique target really, do you think it is better to shoot at the max resolution possible to resolve the star-cloud the best with better controlled (less-saturated) color in the absence of nebulosity?
Looking forward to your ideas on this.