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 ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread 
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Hello this post is related to the above post ,,


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File comment: This is only 5 lights and 2 darks ,with a single image for the chapel ,,stacked in dss, tweaked colours in ps , but wish i had a lot my detail in the milky way, is my focusing out?? or just not dark enough ?? any help ,and any guides with using dss much apreciated ,cheers nick
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Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:30 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Hello,

Just signed up here... I've been doing astrophotography for about 4 years now (you can see my work here http://blog.deepskycolors.com/ ), and I'm humbly starting doing some timelapses. Well, I actually shot my first timelapse about 2 years ago, but I've never been serious about it, more like a "time killer" during my AP sessions. Interestingly I noticed this sub-forum about astrophotography ;)

I don't know if this fourm is exclusive to DSLR-based astrophotograpy, as I've been using a dedicated CCD camera for the last three years, but nonetheless, many things apply regardless of the camera (plus with affordable modified and cooled DSLRs the gap is closing FAST!) and I too started with a DSLR after all!

Anyway I read a few things in this thread and I wanted to share my opinion on some of those things...

First, no single image from a motion video can rival a dedicated astroimage. Of course, an accomplished "timelapser" can produce a single image of better quality than a, say, 3 hours session on a still image that is badly captured or post-processed, but when the operator, equipment, and techniques are all put to work at a high level, there's no comparison. Still, video and still images are a quite different thing anyway, and IMHO each must be enjoyed for what they are.

Tom certainly post-processes the night-sky data he uses for his timelapses, if not everything, many sequences certainly are post-processed. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that - in fact, I see it as quite the opposite.

Last, of course the stacking process is not dishonest in any way, Chris ;) It's a very adequate method in the war to achieve better signal-to-noise, much more in fact than post-processing noise reduction techniques that really don't reduce the noise, rather, they "hide" it.

Anyway, hope to stop by here often and maybe some day actually produce a decent timelapse :)

Cheers,
Rogelio


Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:50 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Amazing collection of info here, I really appreciate you sharing what must have taken years and years to accumulate.

My only question has to do with post-processing the stacked image once it's spit out of DeepSkyStacker. Is DSS your first stop with your light and dark RAW files, and do you further tweak settings (like white balance) in Lightroom with a RAW file exported from DSS? Or do you perform ALL your post processing in DSS, including white balance adjustments?

BTW, hi fellow Coloradan! Heading up to Silverthorne this weekend for some Perseid viewing and photography. 8-)


Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:59 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Sammy V wrote:
for some Perseid viewing and photography. 8-)


ah yes, for those that arent aware its an ideal time for seein meteors this weekend

http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essential ... ower-guide

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Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:20 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Load of useful info here, this thread has more density then a black hole!

I discovered recently another great resource that might be helpful for other people. It collects many other great tips for taking amazing picts/timelapses of stars and various special phenomenons in the skies. It's definitely the best photography e-book I've ever purchased. A well readable PDF (iPad or PC friendly), without any annoying DRM, but with beautiful picts and clear explanations.

Image

Here it is, Shooting Stars eBook, by Phil Hart:
http://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?ii=1069395&c=ib&aff=222369&cl=103497


I've asked the author a discount for my students and he was kind enough to give me a 20% off code, without any limitation. If anyone is interested, it's my nickname: gantico

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Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:31 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Hello Jack, I have read all of your post but I still can't figure how to take a photo of the milky way without the foreground being moved like this photo of yours:
Image


Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:45 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Francisco E. Duran wrote:
Hello Jack, I have read all of your post but I still can't figure how to take a photo of the milky way without the foreground being moved like this photo of yours:



I cheated. I took that same shot about 30 times, stacked the images, the treeline was horribly streaked, so i took the first image and cut out the tree-line and pasted it in front of the streaked tree line.

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Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:02 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
That's a fair "cheat" for the sake of composition, IMHO. Despite the "fabrication", when we paste the corresponding static landscape against a "tracked" night sky scene, we are providing a pristine view of something real, not something made up. We're not cheating nature, we're "cheating" the limitations of our equipment.


Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:11 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
much happier with this one ,, pheww!!!


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Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:49 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Turls

Nice photo, but I can't help thinking ;) that some suitably undressed model in front of the tower, properly lit, might not help the photo.


Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:20 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
:oops: Roger maybe not ,but woulda been fun finding out !!!!


Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:34 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Thought I'd throw these out here, I've gathered the links and descriptions from my personal knowledge and experience as well as from various websites.

Websites

    Dark Sky Finder — Jshine.net
    Shows relative levels of light pollution in the night sky for the United States area.

Desktop Applications

    SkyChart — ap-i.net
    Draw sky charts, making use of the data in 16 catalogs of stars and nebulae. [...] planets, asteroids and comets are shown. The purpose of this program is to prepare different sky maps for a particular observation. [...] choose which catalogs to use, the colour and the dimension of stars and nebulae, the representation of planets, the display of labels and coordinate grids, the superposition of pictures, the condition of visibility and more.

    Home Planet — formilab.ch
    Excels at locating artificial satellites, comets, and asteroids. There are 256,000 stars in its catalog. Planetary moons such as Titan aren't shown. The display isn't as realistic as others.

Mobile Applications

    Google Sky Map — Google Play | Source Code
    Real-time, gyroscope/compass/accelerometer-controlled display of the sky your phone is pointing at. Layers (planets, stars, constellations, galaxies, etc.) can be toggled individually.

    SkEye Planitarium — Google Play
    Real-time, gyroscope/compass/accelerometer-controlled display of the sky your phone is pointing at.

    Computer Aided Astronomy (C2A) — astrosurf.com
    Computer Aided Astronomy can generate tables for the sun, planets, moon, comets, and asteroids between any two dates. Generate trajectories of planets, asteroids, and comets between any two dates. Shows the moon phases for the entire month. Displays an animated view of the solar system with comets and asteroids. C2A can control a computerized telescope mount.


Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:59 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
A fantastic smartphone app for visualizing your static or TL shots is SkySafari...
http://www.southernstars.com/products/skysafari/index.html
This planetarium program is more powerful than most desktop programs. It will even control a telescope: select an object on the screen and the telescope slews to it.

BTW, I just discovered this great forum and hope to improve my astro TL's. Have been doing static astro shots for several years.

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Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:06 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Hey Jack
I stumbled upon this thread a few months back, sadly it doesnt look like it very active but ill still give it a shot.
I went ahead and built the same tracker as Gary Senorik but i'm having a problem with the power supply. I keeps having to be adjusted when a heavier load is put on or when the battery begins to drain, i was wondering how's your Arduino set up going? Im looking into taking the Arduino route but I honestly have no idea what theyre talking about. All i'm using on my rig right now is a PWM, do you have any advice? Can you post some pics of your rig? How did you get your drive bolt to bend at the precise radius? Im asking alot of questins but after months of working on it i still cant get it to operate how he described. Any tips or advice would greatly be appreciated


Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:52 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
I got sidetracked on building timelapse gear a while back and have not had time to mess with it much. Basically i just used an Arduino and an "easydriver" in order to control a Stepper motor.

i ran into the same issue with light vs heavy loads. Using an arduino and stepper is a far better way to do it.

as for the rod, i used a piece of plywood and using a compas drew out the proper radius circle, about 7in radius i believe, then i pounded nails in right on the inside of that circle and used that to bend the threaded rod against.

the only problem is there is an inevitable ratcheting effect so over 100mm it gets somewhat spotty in use.

I have a new system i have been working on to track stars that will use a gearbox and a rotating element which should prevent the ratcheting effect

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Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:19 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
I see alot of talk about DIY projects and astrotrac competition. I think little people have heard of the fornax 10 lighTrack but it supposedly uses a gearless system that can track better than the astrotrac by alot. You have to order it from over seas if you live in the US and I have been wondering if anyone has had experience with this product. I may order one after Christmas so maybe I will be the first to post up results.


Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:15 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Jack Ripper wrote:
I got sidetracked on building timelapse gear a while back and have not had time to mess with it much. Basically i just used an Arduino and an "easydriver" in order to control a Stepper motor.

i ran into the same issue with light vs heavy loads. Using an arduino and stepper is a far better way to do it.

as for the rod, i used a piece of plywood and using a compas drew out the proper radius circle, about 7in radius i believe, then i pounded nails in right on the inside of that circle and used that to bend the threaded rod against.

the only problem is there is an inevitable ratcheting effect so over 100mm it gets somewhat spotty in use.

I have a new system i have been working on to track stars that will use a gearbox and a rotating element which should prevent the ratcheting effect



How did you keep the nails from bending the threads? I tried it and i failed....more than once :( . I went through so many my local hardware store ran out of the 10-32 rods so i had to substitute with 8-32 and adjust the tracking rate via a protractor app on my phone. when it comes to the power source instead of dealing with arduino (i'm challenged when it comes to creating circuits) Im thinking of modding a Lio battery pack to give me a continous supply of juice that the 5V PWM will send to the 5v motor. Im not sure how long it will last before i run into the same Voltage drop problems but i think a battery pack should provide more juice time than the tracker can actually eat up from tracking, plus its rechargable. Hopefully itll work but for now its just a theory. I've read the Gary article dozens of times and i wonder if the "1 1/2 hour of uninterrupted tracking" claim is true.

As for purchasing a tracker, that Fornax looks and sounds great but it looks like it would cost somewhere around $700 USD after shipping and i'm still way way way below that dollar figure on what ive spent on building my own. But if anyone does ever buy one please let us know.


Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:28 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
OK, just off the top of my head:

Could you use a straight threaded rod instead of a curved one? Something like the Phidgets stepper with the threaded rod through the middle, for example. Obviously the motor speed would have to change continuosly to accomodate the changing geometry but this would be simple enough to program into an arduino by using a bit of maths (or a look-up table) to adjust the delay between motor steps.

The mountings at each end would need to pivot but should be much simpler to engineer than attempting precision bending of the rod by hand.

Kit


Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:54 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
dascenc wrote:
Jack Ripper wrote:
I got sidetracked on building timelapse gear a while back and have not had time to mess with it much. Basically i just used an Arduino and an "easydriver" in order to control a Stepper motor.

i ran into the same issue with light vs heavy loads. Using an arduino and stepper is a far better way to do it.

as for the rod, i used a piece of plywood and using a compas drew out the proper radius circle, about 7in radius i believe, then i pounded nails in right on the inside of that circle and used that to bend the threaded rod against.

the only problem is there is an inevitable ratcheting effect so over 100mm it gets somewhat spotty in use.

I have a new system i have been working on to track stars that will use a gearbox and a rotating element which should prevent the ratcheting effect



How did you keep the nails from bending the threads? I tried it and i failed....more than once :( . I went through so many my local hardware store ran out of the 10-32 rods so i had to substitute with 8-32 and adjust the tracking rate via a protractor app on my phone. when it comes to the power source instead of dealing with arduino (i'm challenged when it comes to creating circuits) Im thinking of modding a Lio battery pack to give me a continous supply of juice that the 5V PWM will send to the 5v motor. Im not sure how long it will last before i run into the same Voltage drop problems but i think a battery pack should provide more juice time than the tracker can actually eat up from tracking, plus its rechargable. Hopefully itll work but for now its just a theory. I've read the Gary article dozens of times and i wonder if the "1 1/2 hour of uninterrupted tracking" claim is true.

As for purchasing a tracker, that Fornax looks and sounds great but it looks like it would cost somewhere around $700 USD after shipping and i'm still way way way below that dollar figure on what ive spent on building my own. But if anyone does ever buy one please let us know.



Sorry i totally missed this.

I really had no problem with bending threads, i sort of hand bent it a bit to get it started then just kind of bounced it against the nails until it finally held that position. Never had any issue with the threads bending against the nails, however, the threads do compress on the inside which caused that annoying ratchet effect.


Kitwin, using a straight rod would be much better. First off it would eliminate the ratcheting effect of the curved rod and offer tracking with longer focal lengths.

However, you have to make sure you have the mathematics correct for the speed adjustment to eliminate the tangent error. I failed algebra 3 times in highschool, I had no doubt that those mathematics were beyond my ability to figure out.

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Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:38 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Jack,

I never did too well with maths at school either, though I do still have my pure maths text book to refer to. I might see if I can work out what's needed if I have a quiet moment (hour, day, couple of weeks).

Kit


Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:37 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
What a great read I have had this afternoon, thanks everyone who has contributed here.

As many, I have been reading/dabbling into time lapse and astrophotography for some months now. It has come to the time for me to start shooting my first "real" shots - and where else could be better than sat on a tropical island in the Maldives..!

I have a few notes and questions if anyone could help me out. I know that the light pollution is pretty much none here, however it is extremely humid and I am on the equator. Will this kick up any issues?

Now, I have only just learnt about stacking images thanks to this thread, so tonight I am going to try shoot the milky way. There is no moon here right now and the view at night is far better than that back home in the UK. I read that you need to point the camera at celestial North... How on earth do I find this?

My equipment: 7D with 10-22mm + 24-105mm Canon lenses, intervelometer, tripod, Macbook Pro, Android and iPhone (for apps). I am looking for the suggested apps to stack the images now also so will get those installed.

Im aiming to shoot the night sky with the lower half of the frame covered in palm trees, the islands' lagoon/coral reef and a nice sandy beach. :)

Best, Alex.

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Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:43 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Thanks forum people from here as well. I will be in Indonesia in a few weeks, very remote island- no light pollution, so I'm excited- I shot here last year and hope "stacking" takes me forward next month, there is amazing imagery from you all here.. I recommend getting a rain sleeve, and also let your camera warm up slowly before you bag it so it doesn't fog. You should be able to see the milky way, and it will move as the night goes on,. for me in Wakatobi around midnight it goes from SE and moves towards the south, (more or less) -there are apps like Starwalk, but if you dont have clouds, you will see it! With a wide lens you will have most of the sky anyway..last time I just opened the lens all the way (2.8-3.5) and ISO 1600 (max on the D-80) then did a 1 minute interval with a 30 second shutter speed. My difficulty was with noise, hoping a higher ISO will help (60D) that. When the moon is new the sky is much darker, a full moon actually helps my noise problems a lot from it's brightness. I have learned here that (oddly) everyone seems to tell you to turn off both the high ISO and long-exposure noise reduction! The stacking software I seem to hear most about is DSS, (deep sky tracker) there are some long youtube tutorials if you have trouble sleeping, haven't downloaded it yet,. just heard of stacking here recently,. but I don't think(?) you can have a foreground,. because it isn't moving so the software blurrs it(?) I would love to see your tests, and hear what you think as a first time stacker!


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Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:56 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Yup, turning of noise reduction has several advantages.
1 decreases interval time (because long exposure noise reduction takes as long as your exposure)
Which is good for getting more lights, or frames for your timelapse.
2 Manual control is awesome.. =P (and gives better results too)

Why? stacking with darks and lights makes for better noise reduction much in the same way as your camera does with long exposure noise reduction. only better and more accurate because it uses more darks. and not just one.

And indeed you're right about the foreground.. stacking kinda screws it over.. so that's why some choose to cut the foreground out of one picture and place it over the stacked image..

btw.. its amazing what one can learn by just reading the whole thread and supplied links.. as i have my first serious attempt at astrophotography yet to make.


Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:44 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
How do you find north at the equator? Look at where the sun sets, that is west. At this time of the year it should be setting approx 20 degrees wsw of the equator.
Rising sun, approx 20 degrees ESE of the equator. Or look at a map or a compass.
Humidity? Try to find somewhere with a slight breeze, it might help avoid condensation. And if you are that concerned, take your camera to an air conditioned room afterwards.


Alex Brown wrote:
What a great read I have had this afternoon, thanks everyone who has contributed here.

As many, I have been reading/dabbling into time lapse and astrophotography for some months now. It has come to the time for me to start shooting my first "real" shots - and where else could be better than sat on a tropical island in the Maldives..!

I have a few notes and questions if anyone could help me out. I know that the light pollution is pretty much none here, however it is extremely humid and I am on the equator. Will this kick up any issues?

Now, I have only just learnt about stacking images thanks to this thread, so tonight I am going to try shoot the milky way. There is no moon here right now and the view at night is far better than that back home in the UK. I read that you need to point the camera at celestial North... How on earth do I find this?

My equipment: 7D with 10-22mm + 24-105mm Canon lenses, intervelometer, tripod, Macbook Pro, Android and iPhone (for apps). I am looking for the suggested apps to stack the images now also so will get those installed.

Im aiming to shoot the night sky with the lower half of the frame covered in palm trees, the islands' lagoon/coral reef and a nice sandy beach. :)

Best, Alex.

Image


Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:08 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
I am totally new to the concept of stacking and my somewhat silly questions will reveal my complete lack of knowledge on the subject.
I note that you take 30-40 light frames and 10-15 dark frames. I am a bit puzzled by these numbers. I'm guessing that these numbers are not in the context of shooting time lapse......hence 30 - 40 light frames seems like a relatively low number to me. If you were shooting a time lapse sequence, I gather that you would be shooting 200+ light frames? With the original 30-40 range quoted for the light frames, why would there be so few dark frames in comparison - 10 - 15? I would have assumed that you need an equal number of dark and light frames but that shows how little I know about this subject lol. Isn't there like several image pairs - each one consisting of one light frame and one dark frame joined / bonded together or do I have this wrong? Also, if I was shooting a time lapse sequence with 250 photos (which I guess would all be light frames), how many dark frames would have to be shot after this?

Jack Ripper wrote:

POLAR ALIGNMENT

Your stacker wont work for crap if you cant align it very well. In a nutshell you want the hinge of your tracker aligned up with celestial north and south. I dont know how to align on the southern hemisphere. but there are resources for it online.

Happy hunting!


Regardless of stacking or not stacking, I guess this alignment issue only applies to people who use a tracker?


Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:27 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Hi,

I'm new here and landed on this page first. Is it just me, or are the images in the 1st post not there anymore?
Curious to see the differences between stacked/non stacked etc


Cheers,
Gaz


Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:13 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
uklightpainter wrote:
Is it just me, or are the images in the 1st post not there anymore?


It's not just you. I don't see them also.


Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:09 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
The links are broken, probably Jack changed something.


Sat Oct 26, 2013 5:32 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
hey jack how goes the barn door tracker ? i have been building myself a type four barn door tracker hope to have it ready soon. however the winds have been atrocious and too much heavy cloud for star work might have been good for a cloudlapse :-) . i see on the weather the snow you guys have been getting so i guess that wouldn't be helping much either. ok see you in the forums i guess


Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:58 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
I hope I didn't miss the obvious answer in this thread somewhere BUT, do you have to have a tracker to use the stacking technique? If not, can you get good results by doing so?
I keep coming across these shots that have some daylight or twilight lighting in them yet they have the night sky and Milky Way in them, how is this done?

THANKS!


Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:20 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
i think this may help to explain things for you mayhem it's a shot i took a few weeks ago clouds took a bit of a break from obscuring the sky . it was about 10pm there was a half moon left of my shoulder exposed for 8 seconds. as you can see looks like daylight or dawn perhaps. so if the moon is around there is plenty enough light for a photo
in the raw image you can see the texture of the bark on the trees i was quite amazed. if i expose for more than 8 seconds i start to get star trails. waiting for the moon to go away and the clouds to give me a clear night so i can experiment a bit more.
no tracker was used. if you want to stack your images and have a foreground your probably going to have resort to some image magic to hide the stars from running through the foreground. i understand that you can take a series of stars photos and feed them into deep sky stacker without a tracker it's does all the aligning of the stars and the stacking of the images something you might like to try hope this helps.
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Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:02 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
Awesome thread...such great info.

Can I just ask a beginners stacking question??

Upon following the correct procedure for stacking on Light frames, dark frames, flat frames and bias frames etc will stacking software such as DeepSkyStacker compensate for the movement of the stars to avoid trails. Also for non-tracking is it still necessary to line up with the pole star?

Cheers


Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:02 pm
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
if your not tracking the stars with an astronomy mount or barn door tracker i can't see how polar alignment makes any difference, tracking just allows longer exposures without stars trailing, non tracked you stuck with mostly much shorter exposures before the stars start to trail dependent on the focal length of your lens of course
as i understand it dss does stack tracked images as well as non tracked
feel free too correct me if i am wrong i don't know everything yet ... :-)


Thu Jan 08, 2015 3:40 am
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Post Re: ULTIMATE Astrophotography Resource Thread
I'm really keen to do some stacking with my astrophotography. Unfortunately, I don't have a tracking mount. As I won't be able to track, that limits me to doing just one single 'light' frame. So how many 'dark' frames would I need to shoot to add to my one 'light'?

Edit: I did a bit more reading - seems like I can shoot several light frames without tracking. I guess the software must be pretty clever in compensating for the slightly different positions of the stars in individual frames. Though one thing I'm not sure on - do I import the Raw images directly into DSS or should I do my usual post processing of the Raw files in Lightroom first and then take them into DSS afterwards?


Sun Jul 17, 2016 1:03 am
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