In this article I’ll show you how to improve the contrast in dust lanes in galaxies and dark features in nebulae. The article uses an image of the Pacman nebula taken from a Bortle 8 sky (very light polluted) I explain the process in a way that can be applied to most image processing packages.
In this video I’ll take you through the steps to reduce noise from your images, I demo the approach in Photoshop but the approach should also work in GIMP.
In this guide I’ll show you how to remove sky gradients from astro-images. The process can be applied using most imaging software, I’ll talk through the theory of the approach and then demo it in photoshop, I have created a free photoshop action (macro) which can be used to automate the process, this can be downloaded here
In this video I describe how to fix oval stars. Ideally you don’t want to take images with oval stars but sometimes it just happens and if the image is of a one time event like a supernova than you need to find a solution to improve your images. the video describes the process and then demos action in use.
My Photoshop Astro Actions can be downloaded here
If like me you have had problems guiding but you can’t identify any problems with the guiding stats then the problem might be flexure between your guide set-up and the main imaging telescope. My guiding is generally ok, but I have had nights when the telescope in certain positions, but not always repeatable, simply fails, by this I mean the guide stats show really good guiding, but the main telescope shows trailed stars. The most likely cause of this is flexure between the guide telescope and the imaging telescope.
So in this video I tackle this problem by fitting an Off Axis Guider (OAG), this is a small piece of kit that uses a prism to divert some of the light from the telescope imaging train to a guide camera. This ensures that the imaging camera and guide camera are always aligned as they are using the same optics, thus minimising flexure problems between the two systems.
Two criticisms I’ve heard about OAG’s
- They are hard to set-up
- It can be difficult to find a star.
I didn’t find any issues at all, the key is to be methodical, the video below takes you through how I did this.
Finding a guide star:
I’ve used the OAG for 3 nights now (~21Hrs of imaging a dozen objects) and so far I’ve always had multiple stars to choose from, I generally guide with 5s exposures but experimented with shorter exposures and was still able to find stars, that said I need more experience with the OAG to completely conclude this isn’t a problem, but I’d like to offer a possible reason for this criticism, back in the early days of CCD the sensors were tiny and the guide cameras even smaller, they were also very inefficient, However modern guide cameras are efficient and much larger – my guide camera is a QHY5L II – this has a sensor that is 4.8mm x 3.6mm, giving a field of view of on a 1000mm focal length telescope of 16′ x 12′ (about half the size of the full moon) and a quantum efficiency of 74% (for 100 photons hitting the sensor 74 electrons are produced) .
The full guide on how to set-up an Off-Axis Guider is in the video below.
If you have ever had the cables tangle on you German Equatorial Mount, you will know that sinking feeling as you rush to turn off the drives before the gears are ruined. In this guide you will be shown how to manage the cables so that the chance of them tangling is minimal.