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BUILDING A GALAXY OR NEBULA MASK IN PIXINSIGHT A step by step tutorial in processing in Pixinsight -----------------------------------GUIDE TO STACKING COMET IMAGES IN DSS A great tutorial exlaining how to process comet subs in DSS


PLUS MUCH MORE OF THE SAME!!!! ------------------------------------


-----------------------------24 9 Readers Astro Images


Building A Galaxy Or Nebula Mask In Pixinsight

Astrophotography Tutorial by Terry Hancock


Astronomy & Astrophotogra Tool Box. Part 1

-----------------------------42 35 Cover image of M45 by Gareth Harding

Issue 04 DSO, M45 Pleiades



Solar Imaging by Randall Shivak


Readers Astro Kit

Astronomy 4 Beginners by Martin Pyott


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-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Image by Gareth Harding M42 & running man in a moon filled sky in a very light polluted area

To view more of Gareth Harding’s amazing images please visit

Scope: Orion Optics VX6 with 1/10 PV upgraded optics Guide Scope: Skywatcher ST80 Guide Cam: QHY 5 Mono Mount: Skywatcher HQE5 Filter: Astronomik CLS T-2 Camera: Nikon D7100 Exposure:15x120s, 12x300s, 3x420s & 3x600s sec, with Darks, Flats, Dark Flats & Bias Technical: iso 400, 750mm f/5 Software: Photoshop CS6, Pixinsight, PHD

Image by Bryan Pablo Bear Claw Nebula NGC 6357 using the orion ed80 and trf2008. Another one of my hunts for H alpha emmision nebulae, this object is next to the cats paw nebula. A rather strange and messy nebula I must say, it does sort of resembles a claw of a bear. Still happy to get a faint elusive object but this was much, much harder to process than the cats paw. To view more of Bryan Pablo’s amazing images please visit

Image by Tom Wildoner Saturn and Mars March 11 2014 March 11, 2014 in Carbon County, PA. 70 second exposure, Samyang 14mm lens on a iOptron SkyTracker. To view more of Tom Wildoner’s images please visit


Image by Andre van der Hoeven. To view more, visit

Rosette Nebula 2014 This is 3 hours of data, I did have 6 but couldnt get it to stack! Although I attempted to put a lot of exposure time into this nebula, its actually one of my least favourites. Only when imaged with a wide FOV though, because it just looks like a blob of red amongst the stars! However, with a tight FOV all the details and the globules of dust make it one of my favourites. I look forward to capturing them some day. There is also an open cluster towards the top right of the image which i think is NGC 2236 and a blob of nebulosity bottom left - no idea what that is though. Exposure Details: 61* 180s exposures, f4, ISO 800, calibration frames, 200mm Taken with a Canon 600Da and EF200L on a NEQ6. Image by Callum Hayton. To view more of Callum’s image, visit


M81&M82 I finally got abound to collecting better RGB data and reprocessed this image. I think the galaxy colors are more vibrant now Image by Andy Ermolli . To view more of his images, please visit

Sol Image taken by Gary Colville. To viw more of Gary’s images please visit garycolville/


Visit our Flick page and add your images with a chance to have tham published in the next edition of the ezine.

M31 BY STEPHEN SHANNER (a shot he took when he first started out in astrophotography in October 2013) EQUIPMENT USED:Date of capture - October 28, 2013 Place of capture - Skaneateles, New York, USA Exposure - 25 X 300 sec. sub exposures @ 800 ASA = 125 minute total exposure Camera - Nikon D300 (unmodified) Telescope - Celestron C80ED Mount - Celestron VX Guider - 50mm guide scope with ASI 120MM guide camera and PHD guiding Processing - Deep Sky Stacker and Photoshop ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Whilrpool Galaxy M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy (also known as Messier 51 or M51) is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici. It is one of my favorites to photograph due to the amount of details that can be captured using modest magnification. This image was taken on March 21, 2014 using 18 frames for a total of 29 minutes exposure time. A Canon T4i + Canon EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens at ISO 800 were used, this was mounted on a ZEQ25GT mount. This image was taken by Tom Wildoner to view more of his work please visit ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Foggy Full Moon Taken by Rafael W To view more of Rafael’s images, please visit /96471384@N07/

Flowing Clouds by Neil Todd. To view more of Neil’s images please visit

Sunset from Tucson by Robert Sparks view fore at

One of our nearest galactic neighbours contains an astonishing collection of nebulas and star clusters. This is the money shot - top of my list for targets on this trip to Australia. This is the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. At “just” 160,000 light years away, the LMC is in our galactic backyard. Being so close, even the small 77mm telescope I used to take this image resolves numerous nebulas, star clusters, and a mass of individual stars. The image actually looks “noisy” from being filled with so many stars.

Our Neighbour G

I’ ve oriented and framed the Cloud to take in most of its main structure and objects. One can spend many nights just visually exploring all that the LMC contains. It alone is worth the trip to the southern hemisphere. At left is the massive Tarantula Nebula, a.k.a. NGC 2070. At upper right is the LMC’ s second best nebula, the often overlooked NGC 1763, also known as the LMC Lagoon. In between are many other magenta and cyan tinted nebulas. I’ ve shot this object several times but this is my best shot so far I think, and my first with this optical system in several years. I used a Borg 77mm aperture “astrograph,” a little refractor telescope optimized for imaging. It is essentially a 330mm f/4 telephoto lens, but one that is tack sharp across the entire field, far outperforming any camera telephoto lens. This shot is a stack of six 10-minute exposures at ISO 800 with the filter-modified Canon 5D MkII camera. The autoguider worked perfectly. And yet, I shot this in clear breaks between bands of clouds moving though last night. The night was humid but when the sky was clear it was very clear. Next target when skies permit: the Vela Supernova Remnant. Alan, March 25, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer




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Next, using the Pixelmath tool we need to generate a new blank image with 40% brightness, this will form the base layer on to which we will build our Galaxy mask. The value of 0.4 is entered in to the RGB/K box, "create new image" option checked and "image ID" set to "mask", this will name the generated image "mask". The "colour space" option is also changed to "Grayscale" in the drop down menu.

Pixelmath star mask subtraction.

Pixelmath tool & settings

Stars subtracted from the 40% brightness background layer. Final Mask Generation The final step in the mask generation process is to select the lowest value pixels from both our original luminance image and the star subtracted 40% brightness image. The Pixelmath tool is again used for this. Generated 40% brightness mask base Subtracting the Stars from the base layer The Pixelmath formula - "mask - star_mask" is entered in to the RGB/K line and "replace target image" option checked. This will subtract the stars from the 40% brightness background, generating the following image. It is essential at this point to ensure the option "Rescale result" is not checked.

The Pixelmath formumla "min (integration, mask)" is entered in to the RGB/K line and all other options remain the same from the previous step.

Final generated Galaxy Mask. The black point of the generated mask can be raised to increase the strength of the mask should the processing tools when applied still impact on the background areas of the image. ____________________________________ Finally here is the final Luminance image with an application of Local Histogram Equalisation applied and the mask generated above protecting the stars and background areas. Note that there has been no change to the stars or background but the central core, left exposed by the Galaxy Mask, has undergone significant contrast enhancement. This technique works on both images with small isolated features such as Galaxies and also where there is little background left available in the image, such as in large diffuse nebula images. It can be used in both mono and colour images allowing more aggressive processing of selected areas of interest without degrading background and stars.

M106 post contrast enhancement with a masked background & stars Many thanks to John Taylor for this tutorial. Check out his website


unlimited one-on-one support using remote desktop, along with voice calls by Skype for students anywhere in the world. The charge for three months of private astrophotography tutorials and unlimited support is just $200.00 US. Given that a decent camera for astrophotography may cost a thousand dollars or more, this tuition for learning how to use your camera, telescope, and software is very reasonable indeed. And by the end of the three months of tutorials, you’ll have a number of remarkable images to share with your friends and family, your astronomy club, or with the wider world on your website.

The Bubble Nebula and M52 cluster shot using a QHY8L CCD

Elephant's Trunk Nebula shot using a QHY8L CCD

For more details how to sign up for your own series of astrophotography tutorials, contact me at or give me a call at 231-206-1141. One more thing… I’ve held these one-onone tutorial sessions with dozens of aspiring astrophotographers, from complete beginners to experienced imagers. Have a look below for some comments and sample images from a few of my past students…

TESTIMONIALS Having only started Astrophotography I was unsure where to begin. I came across and noticed that Terry Hancock offered one to one tuition at a small fee. I live in the UK and Terry from USA I felt that this was not to work out.. I was totally WRONG. Terry has worked around my hours and has offered first class advice and lessons.You easily forget that he is your mentor but a good friend. Jaspal Chadha UK To the right are 2 of Jas's recent images

.............................................................. Terry I just had to e-mail you and tell how pleased I am with your course. As a seventy four year old I certainly would not impress anyone as a quick learner. Your patience with me was outstanding. I am able to put to use so much you showed me and my sole fear is that I will forget what you taught me. I am still green as grass in imaging but your course has given me hope to continue. Your ability to demonstrate by example is fantastic. I did not tell you earlier as I was somewhat fearful that you would not take me on but I had tried several other instructive courses by CD and by attending several costly seminars, at the seminars I was most likely the anchor man of the class and had a terrible experience. The CD courses were not much better and I had to repeat playing the disks over and over, your approach to my learning was absolutely the answer.

If any of your prospective clients want a endorsement feel free to have them call me at 740-***-**** its the very least I can do for such a great experience. Clifford Spohn Attorney Ohio ...................................................................... "I had the great pleasure of personally working with Terry in CCD imaging and post processing. Terry provided me step-by-step and one-on-one instructions on how to use my camera aquisition software program and afterwards, how to post process my images with his recommended choice of image stacking software. Later, Terry showed me tips and tricks to post processing my images and thus saved me the long and often tedius (sp) task of producing great images. The tuition is well worth the investment and I only regret not doing Terry's program sooner becuase of the amount of time spent learning on my own". Tom Striegal Wisconsin Here is one of Tom's images "The Great Andromeda Galaxy M31".

..................................................................... While searching for sites online that included astronomical images taken with the QHY9 CCD, I stumbled across Terry’s website. I had purchased my QHY9 about 6 months prior and was fairly happy with it. However, I wanted to read on the experiences of other owners of the QHY9 and maybe pick up on any tips so I could improve my own image taking. After reviewing Terry’s images and reading their description, I was impressed by Terry’s

work with the QHY9 and other hardware. I decided to contact Terry; although, I wasn’t expecting to get a reply as maybe I thought he would be too busy with his work, etc. To my surprise, Terry replied fairly quickly. We exchanged several emails where we compared experiences with the QHY9 and processing techniques. Even though I don’t consider myself a novice in the art of astrophotography, I still have a lot to learn and improve and am always looking for better ways to accomplish the required tasks of pre and post processing of my images. Although, Terry was graceful enough to answer my questions, I decided to pay for the Tuition that Terry offers in his site. I knew that I may not use in the same way that others would but at least this allowed me not to feel guilty as I kept on asking questions and wanted to compensate Terry for some of the knowledge transfer. I have nothing but praises for Terry’s guidance, I was able to correct some things I was doing the hard or wrong way and base on his advice I acquired better software which also allowed me to work quickly with better results. I am looking forward to continue to develop my techniques, both on Image taking and processing. Terry and I keep on corresponding and I was privilege to go to some of his lectures and presentations, I am glad to count him as a dear friend now. I highly recommend Terry’s Tuition to anybody passionate about Astrophotography, no matter what level you are in. Jim Gibbs Illinois

To take a look at Terry’s website and his own images and so on, please visit

I have been fortunate enough to have met a Maarten Roos via Linkedin, and the two of us have quietly started to build a good working relationship. While chatting to Maarten, I soon discovered that he too had an interest in astronomy and astrophotography. astrophotograph Soon after, Maarten forwarded a link to me of a film he has produced along with a William Zeitler a musician who created a masterpiece to accompany the film. I settled to watch the film via the link Maarten had forwarded to me. Within seconds I just knew that this was going to be just my kind of thing. I spend a great deal of time trying to put together this ezine alone and I am very often quite stressed along with every other daily life, running a small holding and home educating my youngest son. Within minutes of watching this very well put together film, I soon started to actually relax. The music starts very quietly and soft as do the images of our Earth, the Solar System, the Galaxy and beyond that have all been taken by spacecraft, Earth based telescopes and the Hubble Telescope, all of which are I should mention in the public domain. The way in which the images of Saturn, Jupiter, the Moon and so on appear gently on to the screen in time with the music really is an outstanding piece of work. Within five minutes of viewing, I was totally relaxed, calmed, and had no other thoughts in my mind except a sense of total relaxation.

I have always found calming music in a room alone a great way to relax, but the music the way it has been performed and conducted along with these amazing images of our Solar System and the Universe, really is something else. Although the beginning of the film is very quiet, calm and relaxing, the tempo of the music does on times speed up a little as do the images, and as the tempo of the music speeds up, the more and more dramatic the images become on your screen. I have watched this film several times since I received it from Maarten, and I must say, so has my family and friends, all of which have thoroughly enjoyed their time viewing it. My youngest son suffers with motor and vocal Tourettes Syndrome, OCD and ADHD so he is generally exhausted most of the time. He has found that watching this film before going to sleep at night has been a great way for him to relax, and has stirred up more questions about our universe in turn giving him a new hobby which I am very happy about, until he starts taking over my scope on a clear night. Not only is this film that has been created by Maarten Roos and William Zeitler a great watch for anyone with an interest in astronomy or astrophotography, it is a great way to youngsters in to Astronomy (or what I now call an addiction), but also an amazing source for relaxation. Not only has it been great getting to know Maarten but watching his first film and honestly thoroughly enjoying it, I am desperate to see what Maarten and William produce next. Visit the Serene Universe website and take a look at what ww else is on offer by watching snippets of other films they have on offer. I am positive, you will not be disappointed. Steve of Amateur Astrophotography Ezine


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lighthouse and at what time of the day I had to be in place ready to shoot. Another example: I am looking for a place to shoot the summer solstice rising over the far rim of a canyon as you look up or down the canyon from down on the canyon floor. Trying various locations on the map that look like they might work, I can use this program to verify if the angle might be right. So far, I haven’t found a suitable location.

gear. Before I found Pentax Tether this was my go-to application for time lapses. If you can’t use Pentax Tether or have not yet found a program you like for controlling your camera during time lapses, I recommend checking this out. RegiStax: I originally got it because I could see the advantage of stacking, and I have tried using it a couple of times. The interface can be intimidating when you first see it, but there are some great tutorials out there to guide you past this hurdle. I’ve had varying results using this and have gotten some nice pictures out of otherwise mediocre shots. To really develop my skills here, though, I need to get some proper pictures to use with it and spend the time to really learn how to make it work. It works with either stills or video and gives you a huge amount of control over the results. Visual GPS:

My typical astrophotography setup when I want tight control of the exposure. SkyStudio Pro: Another in-the-field time lapse app, I don’t use this very much any more. Since I have Pentax gear, Pentax Tether has become my preferred camera control. I include this for those of you that have other gear but don’t yet have your own camera control application. I found it to work flawlessly with my Pentax even though it’s aimed primarily at the developer’s Canon

This is a GPS program that works with my external GPS receiver. It provides a lot of nice features that I like for GPS work, but in this particular case it’s a means to getting a position report for me to be able to return to the same place or do more exploring in, say, Stellarium, The Photographer’s Ephemeris, Flash Earth, or Google Earth. It’s also very useful in reverse: finding a spot to photograph from in Flash Earth and using Visual GPS to ensure I’m at the right place when I get there. Most smartphones now have a GPS built in along with the associated applications to provide this data. However, my laptop has an external battery and so can run 10 to 12 hours per charge. In contrast, my phone would quickly go dead if I used it as much as I use Visual GPS. I also have another GPS program that lets me plot my position on topographic maps on my laptop while driving, useful for back country exploring on numerous unmarked roads or getting to a new site. Flash Earth via Firefox:

This is a website, rather than a program, and functions in ways very similar to Google Earth. However, in a lot of cases I have been finding that I can

zoom in closer and clearer in Flash Earth than I can in Google Earth. It does not have the street view or the angle adjustment that Google Earth has but it’s still a very good planning tool. I use this along with Stellarium to check out camera angles and alternate sites I could quickly move to next time, if desired, or to virtually explore areas of interest where I might want to do some astronomy viewing or astrophotography. GIMP:

It’s every bit as powerful as Adobe Photoshop but is free. I use this for tweaking to eliminate noise, improve color, and generally improve the overall picture. It’s also good for stacking and merging, but RegiStax, once you learn it, is less labor intensive handling the stacking. One thing I really like is the ability to keep the EXIF data with the picture even after the tweaking. I never, ever modify the original photos, I first save them as a copy and work on the copy. That lets me easily recover if I mess up too bad. Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop:

There’s tons of tutorials for these so I use these two programs mostly to learn how to do stuff then transfer that knowledge into GIMP. I do some post production here as well, but as mentioned I mostly rely on GIMP for that. There you have it, the main applications I use on my PC/laptop for astronomy and astrophotography. Next week, in Part 2, I’ll provide a look at the applications I use on my smartphone. Many thanks to Bill Blohm for this editorial taken from his blog http://www. Part 2 will be in issue 05


Image by Doug German of M45 The Pleiades. Lots of sisters :) First image for a while, having too many other things to do :) My first serious attempt at M45 since my very first astro image here. Nice to know things are getting better :) SW ED80/EQ5 Canon 500D modded, Baader Neodymium filter 47 x 180 sec subs, iso 1600, total 2 hours 20 minutes Acquisition: APT Guiding: Quickcam Pro4000/9x50 finderscope, PHD Stacked in DSS and processed in CS5


M arkarian 'sC h ain in Virgo

by J eof w w w .crabn

Markarian's Chain is a stretch of galaxies that forms part of the Virgo Cluster. It is called a chain because, when viewed from Earth, the galaxies lie along a smoothly curved line. It was named after the Armenian astrophysicist, B. E. Markarian, who discovered their common motion in the early 1960s.[1] Member galaxies include M84 (NGC 4374), M86 (NGC 4406), NGC 4477, NGC 4473, NGC 4461, NGC 4458, NGC 4438 and NGC 4435. (Courtesy Wikipedia). Also shown in the lower left of the image is the giant elliptical galaxy M87. Image taken over two nights in northeast Death Valley California in March 2014.

Details: NP127is at f4.1; Atik 383L+ at -18 deg C; Orion EQ-G mount;TS OAG; Astrodon E series LRGB filters: 6.5 hours Luminance; 120 minutes each RGB. Processed with Images Plus; Maxim DL; Registar; AIP4WIN; Photoshop Elements. Astrometry Group identified 42 galaxies in this image. To view more of Jeffs outstanding images, please go to his Flickr page here at or visit his website here at ww


This image is a hybrid image using 1,5 hr. RGB data remotely captured via New Mexico and data from the POSS-II Survey. Info about the New Mexico Instruments:

Instrument Package

CCD: SBIG STL-11000M QE: 50% Peak Full Well: ~50,000e- Anti Blooming Gate (ABG) Dark Current: 0.5 e-/pixel/sec. @ 0ยบ C Pixel Size: 9um Square Resolution: 3.5 arc-secs/pixel Sensor: Frontlit Cooling: Set to -15ยบC default Array: 4008 by 2672 (10.7 Mega pixels) FOV:

155.8 x 233.7 arc-mins

Filters: LRGB, Ha, SII & OIII and V Position Angle: 090ยบ Telescope Optics OTA: Takahashi FSQ Fluorite Optical Design: Petzval Apochromat Astrograph Aperture: 106mm (0.1 metre) Focal Length: 530mm (.53 metre) F/Ratio: f5.0 Guiding: External Mount: Paramount GT-1100S Would like to thank Oliver Czernetz for sending this image into the Ezine.


All images and editorial by Randall Shivak


Equipment consists of the main scope(white and gold) which is a William Optics 98mm FLT @ f6.5. Attached to it nearer the bottom is the large black item, thats a William Optics MK IV focal reducer and field flatterner, this speeds up the scope and makes it f5.6. Then the camera, well in this photo it's an astro modified Canon 450D, by astro modified it means it's had the internal IR filter removed so it's a hell of a lot more sensitive to the red part of the spectrum, but also means it's not really usable during the day. The other camera that I use is a standard Canon 50D. Each scope has Dew bands on them, theses are the black items you can see wrapped around them just down from the top, these keep the optics just warm enough to stop any dew forming on the optics. Onto the smaller black scope, this is a Skywatcher ST80mm and it's use is pretty much just to act as a guide scope. So attached to that scope is a small CCD camera called a QHY5, this camera also has fitted a 0.5x focal reducer to give a better field of view. The mount is a Skywatcher HEQ6 Pro, it's been modified internally as well with upgraded bearings and cogs to give a smoother track and also has upgraded external bolts and mounting hardware, the blue mounting plates give a much much better mounting platform and gets rid of any flexture which may upset the images. And yes that is a game pad you can see, It's used to control the scopes. All of this is run back to my laptop by way of a four port USB hub attached via velcro to the mount and then via active USB cables so everything is controlled from there. I run Carte Du Ciel planetarium software on the laptop so all I have to do is choose a target on there, click on "slew" and away the scope goes to the target. Oh yes, the mount also has GPS fitted so it always knows where it is. All of this lovely equipment belongs to Andy Lee

Andy Lee with Sir Patrick Moore M31 image taken by Andy Lee using the astro equipment above

114mm X 900mm helios reflector mouted on an eq2 mount with R/A drive. For imaging I use a 10 yr old Panasonic g1 with m42 adapter and t-mount along with a 2x barlow as I don't have enough back focus without one though I may try a 0.5 focal reducer and see if that works. Thank you for appreciating my setup, we all have to start somewhere. this setup cost me under ÂŁ200 altogether. As money is an issue am trying a bit of a DIY and 2nd hand approach. Just bought a 6 and half inch primary for ÂŁ30 off ebay it needs resilvering but am attempting to make my own reflector as little project to keep me out of mischief. Scope owned by Taff and Lorraine Quilter below is an image taken with this set up/

................................................................................................. Solar imaging set up Quick iPhone shot of our Mak set up to image the Sun, Canon 600D attached prime focus to 127mm Skywatcher scope fitted with homemade Baader Solarfilm filter, we use the same set up for our Moon shots - just without the filter. Scope owned by Simon and Sarah Fisher

Our Nearest Star 23/3/2014 [Explored] In between the bright sunshine, fast moving cloud and showers we got a grab and go Sun shot! Many thanks for the views, favourites and super comments, very much appreciated! Prime focus single shot taken in whitelight (colour added in iPhoto), Canon 600D attached to Maksutov 127mm telescope fitted with homemade Baader Solarfilm filter

Jeff Johnson Takahashi FS-60C APO Fluorite Doublet Refractor, QSI 540wsg camera (with SX Lodestar in OAG port of camera, above it), Takahashi EM200 mount on Takahashi wooden tripod

Image taken by Jeff using this equipment. To view more of Jeff’s images go to --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Gareth Harding Scope: Orion Optics VX6 with 1/10 PV upgraded optics 750mm f/5 Guide Scope: Skywatcher ST80 Guide Cam: QHY 5 Mono Planetary Cam: QHY IMOGH Mount: Skywatcher HQE5 Camera: Nikon D7100 Filter: Astronomik CLS T-2 Tech: Acer aspire S3 notebook Software: EqMod, CS6, Digicam control, PHD 2, Starry Night, DSS & Pixinsight

Image taken by Gareth Harding of M42 & running man in a moon filled sky in a very light polluted area, with this set up. To view more of Gareth’s images visit


Image taken by Tom Wildoner To view more of Tom’s fantastic work please visit

The Southern Night Sky Our galaxy's core and Southern Hemisphere night sky, as seen overhead in the dark skies of the Karoo desert, near Sutherland, South Africa. This was shot with a #Canon 5DmkII, Canon f4 L 8-15mm fisheye lens, and Manfrotto tripod during a recent astrotrip with Tanja Sund. Also visible in this photo is Venus (bottom left), the large and small Megellanic clouds, LMC/SMC (lower right) and the difficult to phot-

ograph Zodiacal light, the large cone-shaped light in the lower left of the image. Zodiacal light is the light from the sun reflecting off dust in the zodiacal cloud in the solar system. The dust is left over from planetary formation and can only be seen near sunrise or sunset at certain times of the year. yea It is so faint that any light pollution or moonlight renders it invisible. Image by Cory Schmitz . To view more of his work go to Sunset 4-7-14 Nice sunset with green flash and a hint of blue. Image by Robert Sparks To view more images by Robert Sparks please visit https://ww

Polaris Star Trail Polaris star trail. 52 25sec exposures stacked in StarStaX. Canon 450D Sigma 10-20mm ISO 400. Image taken by mmmmmmattheww. To view more of his work please visit otos/83912994@N05/

Lunar Snap shots by Gary Colville. To view Gary’s images go to

Star Trails over Loch More by Chris Sinclair. To view more of his work please visit otos/91145156@N03/

PICT0003-Photo taken 2 March, 2014 at 12:40AM CLST (Concepcion, Chile) Direction North. KONICA MINOLTA 5D DIGITAL CAMERAThis photo taken with my 28mm f2.5 Vivitar M42 Pentax mount Lens at 0.8 sec., f2.5, ISO 1600. PP using Adobe Photoshop CS6 Camera Raw 7.0 converted to a TIFF image. Procyon (αCMi, αCanis Minoris, Alpha Canis Minoris) is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor.

To the naked eye, it appears to be a single star, the eighth brightest in the night sky with a visual apparent magnitude of 0.34. It is actually a binary star system, consisting of a white main-sequence star of spectral type F5 IV– V, named Procyon A, and a faint white dwarf companion of spectral type DQZ, named Procyon B. The reason for its brightness is not its intrinsic luminosity but its relative closeness to the Sun. Image by Thomas D. McManus. To view more of Thomas’s images please go to

Milky Way arch panorama I captured last Thursday at Pakiri, it's made from 15 frames captured with the Gigapan Epic Pro and the Canon 6D at ISO3200 through a Samayang 24mm lens set at F/2.8 using 20 sec exposures, the panorama was then put together in PT GUI and processed in Photoshop. Image by Johnathan Green. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Sagittarius Arm over Nelson Beach Nelson Beach, Jervis Bay Image taken by Wes Schulstad. To view more of Wes’s work, please visit /100313280@N08/

Please take a look at our Flickr page here at


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Now you will need to locate the comet within the image, DSS will have green circles around what it thinks could be comets so you’ll need to hover over the comet with your cursor and click on it. As you’ll see in the top left of the image screen a zoom box will appear to assist you in doing this. Once you are happy with the selection do make sure that you now click on the “ Save Icon” just above the comet icon in the bottom left of the image screen. (fig 4).

fig 4 As you will find out later, as I have done a few times, if you fail to save after each selection of the comet in each image the selection will NOT be saved and you’ll have to do it all again! So here we are, we’ve now gone through each image and made sure we have selected the comet and saved after each selection, now time to stack the images. You can add any darks, bias and flats at this stage if you use them, just go through the same process as you did to select the main images. Once you are happy and have all images files loaded click on “ Stack checked pictures” (fig 5), at first you may well have a similar small window open as shown in fig 2, but by clicking on the “ Recommended settings” and “ Stacking parameters” other op-tions will show (fig 5).

If you’re new to DSS then a lot of the time the default settings will work well, but if you’d like to know more about each setting then there is a great help file within DSS, simply click on “ DeepSky Stackers help” bottom left corner. The main thing to choose is how you want your comet images stacked, there is a choice of three different ways as shown in fig 5. Most people tend to use the last option “ Stars + Comet stacking”. Be warned, this is very memory and processor intensive! The time it will take to complete the stack will depend on the number of images being processed along with the spec of your PC/Laptop. Even with my i7 8 core, 16gb ram laptop DSS will sometimes show as “ Not responding”, don’t panic, just let it be and it will carry on and complete the stacking, it’s just likely to take time, but it’s worth the wait. During the stacking you’ll see a similar screen to the one shown in fig 6 with the green progress bars. So time now to pop the kettle on and make a cuppa while DSS does it’s thing.

fig 6 So here we are, maybe 10mins later on, maybe 30mins later, but finally we have the finished stacked image in front of us on our screen (fig 7) And now you’re think-ing “ Was it worth all the hassle?” Yep the final image in DSS doesn’t look like any-thing much does it, but it will don’t worry!

fig 5

You’ll see the image has been saved in the same file as your original im-ages and it’ll be called “ Autosave.tiff”. You can now close DSS and open the software you use for image processing.


fig 7

You’ll notice on the image now that there is a kind of frame effect around part of the edge, this is caused by the comet stack process in DSS when you have chosen “ Stars + Comet stacking” and is more pronounced with a higher frame count but is easily removed using the crop tool in your chosen image processing software. Now processing any astronomy image can be done is so many ways and using various software such as Photoshop, PixInsight and Maxim.

have some resources or members who are willing to help you out with the basics. Also maybe think about doing an image search of your target in something like Google image search, this will give you an idea of how others have made their final image look, it’s a good reference tool. The basics mainly meaning using “ Levels and Curves” and “ Color balance” to make small adjustments to your image. Take your time, make a small adjustment each time, duplicate the image as you go so that you always have the copy previous to any changes you make should you wish to easily go back to that one. Here is my final image of Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy which I have used in the screen shots showing the stacking process.

When you first open your final stack image it is always worth duplicating it, this way you will always have the original safe. Also you will find that DSS saves it as a 32bit Tiff file, so you may need to convert it to a 16bit Tiff for use in your processing software. Processing any astronomy image as I have mentioned is always down to an individuals experi-ence level, the software they have available to them and of course how they themselves would like the final image to look like. There is a vast amount of information and video lessons available on the web for the various photo processing software so it will always be worth looking. Also you might belong to an astronomy group and they may well

I hope you have found this useful and I hope you are able to get some lovely images of a comet sometime in the future. All text and final image by Andy Lee.



Another safety feature I’m also considering is a bolt that runs right through the filter and end cover so the whole lot is bolted together.

Sandwiching the solar film between the 2 doughnuts I screwed the top piece right through the film and into the wood behind and trimmed of the excess solar film. If you decide to have a go at making one yourself you do so at your own risk. You need to ensure the filter is checked for pin holes or any damage before every use. I do this by shining a bright torch through the filter first and if that’s ok ill hold it up to the sun and check the whole surface of the filter Here are a couple of images I have taken to date using this filter. The first showing the transit of Venus and the other shows some sunspot groups. I had to cut a notch out of the filter to allow for the raised lip around my scope end cover. This allowed the filter to sit over the 40mm hole flat.

And here is the finished article. The 46mm internal diameter ensures a nice snug and tight fit over the hole. I will have to keep an eye on the fit as it may become loose over time through use and I’m looking at perhaps making a MkII out of nylon.

Many thanks to Steve Bassett for allowing Amateur Astrophotography to publish this very informative article taken from his website

The Great Orion Nebula an by Terry Hancock of http://www Part of the Orion Molecular Cloud and two of the most recognizable objects in the constellation Orion, these immense stellar nurseries are approximately 1500 light years distant "The Great Orion Nebula and The Horsehead Nebula" shown here in this 4 panel mosaic. This is data I collected over several nights in January, February and early March 2014 from Downunder Observatory in Fremont MI. Using a QHY11S monochrome CCD cooled to -20C and Takahashi Epsilon F2.8 ED-180 Astrograph. Total Integration time 8.8 hours.

nd The Horsehead Nebula Equipment

Camera: QHY11S monochrome CCD cooled to -20C Optics: Takahashi Epsilon F2.8 ED-180 Astrograph Mount: Paramount GT-1100S German Equatorial Mount (with MKS 4000) Image Aquisition Maxim DL Stacking and Calibrating: CCDStack Registration of images in Registar Post Processing Photoshop CS5





If yo u are am em ber o f an astro gro u p,please visit o u r w ebsite an d c o n tac t u s w ith yo u r details.W e w illbe su re to in c lu de yo u r astro c lu bin th e fo llo w in g issu es


Amateur Astrophotography Ezine is a publication for Amateur Astrophotography alone. Within it's pages you will find readers images, readers...


Amateur Astrophotography Ezine is a publication for Amateur Astrophotography alone. Within it's pages you will find readers images, readers...