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Untracked astrophotography with dedicated astro camera

DSO Imaging Astrophotography Beginner
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#1 Srinivas

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Posted 09 December 2022 - 05:11 AM

So I've got an ASI533MC Pro and GT71 apo but my computerized go to mount will take another month to arrive. I can get a manual mount in a few days, so I was wondering if I could capture dso with this setup because its winter and I really want to utilize these long nights.

 

I also want to know which software to use for stacking and editing, I have Microsoft ICE(image composite editor) but I don't know if it works well for astrophotography.

 

Also we've got bortle 7 skies here crazy.gif



#2 Tapio

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Posted 09 December 2022 - 05:17 AM

I suggest that you start with moon if want to start with manual mount.
For stacking DSS, Siril an ASTAP are free choices.
Astro Pixel Processor and PixInsight cost some (but are worth it).
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#3 hollo

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Posted 09 December 2022 - 05:36 AM

I did a few untracked images with a DSLR and a 300mm lens. Assuming you have the Flat6a 0.8x reducer/flattener with the GT71 you will have a focal length of 330 which isn't far off.

 

Nico Carver (nebulaphotos) has some videos on YouTube that walk you through the process for untracked. https://www.youtube....h?v=pXcRKoxTPVg is a good one. He's using a DSLR, but the processing will be the same for what you're planning. There are linked videos that show stacking and processing with a variety of free and paid-for programs.

At 300mm I found I could just get away with 1s exposures, so integration times were short and used a lot of hard drive space, but I got some OK pictures.

https://www.cloudyni...ed-dslr-photos/

You'll want to stick to bright objects (Orion nebula, andromeda) to give yourself the best chance. All the preprocessing and processing stuff you learn will still be useful when your proper mount arrives.


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#4 hollo

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Posted 09 December 2022 - 06:05 AM

Also it's not whether it is computerised vs manual that makes the mount suitable for DSO astrophotography. It needs to be an equatorial mount. Computerisation is definitely a benefit for automating your setup, but a non-computerised equatorial mount will work OK, while a goto Alt/Az one won't. You may already know this, but just checking because of the way you wrote your initial post.


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#5 Tapio

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Posted 09 December 2022 - 06:28 AM

Also it's not whether it is computerised vs manual that makes the mount suitable for DSO astrophotography. It needs to be an equatorial mount. Computerisation is definitely a benefit for automating your setup, but a non-computerised equatorial mount will work OK, while a goto Alt/Az one won't. You may already know this, but just checking because of the way you wrote your initial post.


Just to show that computerised alt-az mount can produce decent DS images:
https://www.taivaanv...ons/show/110766
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#6 ETtheExtraterrestrial

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Posted 09 December 2022 - 06:55 AM

I completely get the point you’re making I would just caution that for a significant amount of work it doesn’t work.

Even in this example they’re using a dslr at 100mm. For any practical DSO AP with an OTA an EQ mount is definitely needed.

The other risk of course is the money pit.

I definitely took some decent shots with my 8SE factory kit but I moved on fast! LoL
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#7 ETtheExtraterrestrial

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Posted 09 December 2022 - 07:00 AM

My advice, if you need to purchase something you aren’t going to use don’t. I did that a lot to get immediate gratification and then found I was surrounded by stuff I didn’t need.

Trust me this is a hobby you can spend a fortune loving.

So if the manual mount is free get it and try. Worst case it’s a learning experience. If you have to buy it think about what else you need and spend it there 😊.

You don’t mention what mount is in order but do you have a guide scope or OAG, a guide camera, etc…not critical to get started by any means but again something you will probably want. Just good for thought.

Clear skies and good luck with everything. Believe me I appreciate the passion to get out and enjoy your awesome equipment
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#8 Srinivas

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Posted 09 December 2022 - 07:52 AM

So if the manual mount is free get it and try. Worst case it’s a learning experience. If you have to buy it think about what else you need and spend it there .

You don’t mention what mount is in order but do you have a guide scope or OAG, a guide camera, etc…not critical to get started by any means but again something you will probably want. Just good for thought.

Clear skies and good luck with everything. Believe me I appreciate the passion to get out and enjoy your awesome equipment

The manual mount costs $80

 

I'm getting the eqm 35 pro(which was $550 at first light optics) and yes I do have a guide scope and asi120mm guide cam. 



#9 Phil Sherman

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Posted 09 December 2022 - 10:41 AM

A great but older image processing program is Mike Unsold's ImagesPlus. It'll do both pre and post processing and uses a full GUI interface. It was a purchase to own program but Mike made it a free download a few years ago when he was no longer able to continue updating it. It appears that Mike's web site has been mostly deleted but, as of today, you can still download the program from the following site:

 

http://www.mlunsold....ILOrdering.html


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#10 fewayne

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Posted 09 December 2022 - 11:34 AM

Highly recommend that you at least evaluate Astro Pixel Processor and PixInsight. You may not want to spend the money but the (free) process of looking at those tools will give you a good axis for putting together a workflow with free software -- you will know what you need.

 

I think it is quite common to use dedicated astro software to bring an image most of the way there, then a pixel editor to fine-tune the artistic look. (I don't have data, I'm just going by impressions from fora and, yes, that's what I do.) Some other astro-specific packages are Deep Sky Stacker, SiRiL, and ASTAP, which are all free.

 

If you only have $40 to spend on "software", spend it on The Deep Sky Imaging Primer by Charles Bracken. Or one of Jerry Lodriguss's beginner e-books. Seriously, without that grounding in how this stuff works it is super-easy to flounder, and to wander down bad-habit alleys, and a structured introduction beats the snot out of wandering the forums, unaware of what questions to even ask.


Edited by fewayne, 09 December 2022 - 11:34 AM.

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#11 Spaceman 56

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Posted 10 December 2022 - 02:47 PM

So I've got an ASI533MC Pro and GT71 apo but my computerized go to mount will take another month to arrive. I can get a manual mount in a few days, so I was wondering if I could capture dso with this setup because its winter and I really want to utilize these long nights.

 

I also want to know which software to use for stacking and editing, I have Microsoft ICE(image composite editor) but I don't know if it works well for astrophotography.

 

 

Siril is free software that does stacking, and after it has stacked the subs, it can process the RESULTS file.

 

Siril is good. many tutorials on you tube.

 

on a static mount (tripod) you will need to take very short sub exposures, as the stars move and your static tripod does not.

 

try 3 seconds and if you are not getting star trails go longer. if you are getting star trails then go shorter.

 

I used to shoot static off a ladder tripod, with a DSLR and a stock lens,  when I started, and while it is by no means optimal, I DID get images and I DID learn stuff, so I suggest you give it a try and learn stuff too. smile.gif

 

High Tech Mount System-New Zealand-3.jpg

 

don't be afraid to experiment in this hobby, and try any idea that you might have, you can only learn from doing this.

 

using the Ladder tripod and my existing 6 mega pixel, 20 plus year old camera, and a zoom lens,  I got shots like this.

 

orion DSLR v2.jpg

 

now quite obviously it is nothing spectacular, but I did learn about star trails, and exposure times, and ISO values, and Stacking.

 

so I think just have a go and start the journey. a few months later I was getting shots like this.

 

Omega 11th May 2022
 
and on another lucky night shots like this.
 
Carina 10th May 2022
 
and the moon is a good target for short subs. I shoot the moon at about 1/1000th of a second roughly.
 
Takahue Moon

 

 

best wishes Spaceman

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#12 smiller

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Posted 10 December 2022 - 07:25 PM

Also it's not whether it is computerised vs manual that makes the mount suitable for DSO astrophotography. It needs to be an equatorial mount. Computerisation is definitely a benefit for automating your setup, but a non-computerised equatorial mount will work OK, while a goto Alt/Az one won't. You may already know this, but just checking because of the way you wrote your initial post.

>while a goto Alt/Az one won't

 

82F827E7-F07E-498B-B881-AF62BDF75E38.jpeg

 

All shot on an unguided Goto Alt/Az

 

uh…. Ahem….

 

I get your point, Alt/az is greatly inferior but “won’t” cuts too hard a line between can and can’t IMHO…


Edited by smiller, 10 December 2022 - 07:32 PM.

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#13 smiller

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Posted 10 December 2022 - 07:31 PM

So I've got an ASI533MC Pro and GT71 apo but my computerized go to mount will take another month to arrive. I can get a manual mount in a few days, so I was wondering if I could capture dso with this setup because its winter and I really want to utilize these long nights.

 

I also want to know which software to use for stacking and editing, I have Microsoft ICE(image composite editor) but I don't know if it works well for astrophotography.

 

Also we've got bortle 7 skies here crazy.gif

 Manual as in non motorized, or just unguided?  What mount specifically?

 

If completely unmotorized, then you will be using from 0.5 to 2 second exposures depending on where in the sky you are pointed and how much tolerance you have for star trails.   You can set the gain of the camera fairly high (say 250-300) to further minimize read noise, just focus on brighter targets and probably limit your total capture time to what you can tolerate manually slewing the scope to recenter it on target every so often.

 

If 1 second exposures, after 30 minutes you'll have 1800 pictures, that's a lot to stack, so you might consider setting the camera in a lower resolution mode (bin2) even though that camera is a fairly low pixel count, you'll end up with a decent 2.25 megapixel result, which can actually still look pretty good and it's a fine way to start and learn stacking and processing.  Even with 1800 subs, at 2.25 megapixels, it'll stack reasonably quickly (well, not super painfully long), even in the slower programs like Astro Pixel Processor (which you can download the free trial).   Also bin2 gives you a very large pixel scale which will make it more tolerant of drift error anyway.    I mean, this is all in the spirit of getting started and having fun.

 

I have shot with 0.5 to 2 second subs before, untracked and with basic unguided tracking, you can get a decent result on brighter targets with a modern CMOS camera in high gain mode.

 

Just make sure to shoot bias frames, you don't need darks and probably not even flats for such a small field of view camera.  But for sure, bias frames and set the offset to something like 50, gain 250-300.

 

Cheers,

 

Steven


Edited by smiller, 10 December 2022 - 09:08 PM.

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#14 Leia

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Posted 10 December 2022 - 09:01 PM

You need some sort of motor to track the stars on your mount. The longer the focal length, the more precise things need to be. 




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