Emerald Coast Astronomy

with Bob Gaskin

New Imaging Freedom for the Short Timers

Some astrophotographers have it made.  They get to set up their imaging rigs in observatories or remote locations and image all night, literally for hours.   The result of such long exposure sessions generally results in spectacular images from deep space.  Others, such as me, are tied to temporary imaging locations, thus limiting their abilities to image for hours on end.  Until recently, most processing software did not make it especially easy to stack numerous imaging frames taken on different nights of the week or even in the same month.   Thus for some imagers, deep space imaging sessions of 4 to 6 hours are nothing, while others struggle to do what the can with 1 to 3 hours at the most.  Getting to bed at 1AM is not advisable for those who have to get up at 6AM and go to work the next day.  But recently something has changed all that, opening the door to the bird cage for those heretofore limited to short imaging sessions.   CCDStack processing software had added new gimmick: a plug-in for CCDStack from one of its other successful pieces of software, CCD Inspector.  Now short time imagers can take a series of photos from different nights of the week, month or even year and easily stack them into a single LRGB color photo.   This new freedom finally allows the short timers to compile stunning images, comparable to the Big Boys with their remote observatories on a remote New Mexico mountainside.   As an example, I was only able to image a limited amount of luminance, or clear frames, of the globular cluster, M2, hanging high in the Eastern August skies.  Weather closed in after about an hour and shut me down from completing the color frames needed to process a balanced LRGB image.  So I tried CCDStack’s new CCD Inspector plug for CCDStack and pulled up color frames from September, 2007, some two years previous to my clear image shot the night of August 14th, 2009.   The software did not miss a beat and easily stacked them with a simple command “Align All.” That’s it.  Nothing very complicated about it.  While the final image below is not exactly “eye watering,” it does show that an LRGB image from deep space is now easily possible by combining frames taken years apart.   The door to the imaging birdcage is now open for the short timers.



Posted in Uncategorized 11 years, 8 months ago at 7:49 am.

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