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Astro Imaging




External Links that will provide excellent  information on Imaging

Astrophotography (AP) and Electronic Assisted Astronomy.pptx - Google Slides

Steve Chamber's website (Philips SPC900NC long exposure SC5 modification)



    Here I'd like to  run down some of the astro imaging techniques I use for various objects. When I fist started this hobby I bought a Philips SPC900NC web cam and added the  long exposure modification, also known as the SC1 mod.

With this camera I proceeded to  hunt down some simple targets like the moon, Sun and some of the prominent planets like Saturn and Jupiter. You  can see some of these on the Gallery page (link at left). Though these pictures are not perfect, they are a start. I still need to  hone my imaging  and post processing  skills

Moon Mosaic:

 One of the frustrating things that  I came across was trying to  get  a complete mosaic of the moon. If you  check out my pictures you  will see that  there are sections missing.

The process that  I used was to  start at the top right of the moon ( west) and take a few shots . Then I would move the scope over to  the left just  enough to  over lap the last sequence and take  more pictures. I would do this all across the  moon.  Each  on of these sequences would then be stacked to for one JPEG image. Finally I would use PhotoShop to  stick each of the JPEG's together to  create a complete picture. By reducing the opacity of each section it is easy to  over lay the matching features with  the adjacent picture. Once aligned I set to opacity to 100%. Inevitably, there will be a piece missing leaving a hole in the over all picture.

Since then, I was made aware of a technique used by a number of amateur astronomers which I call the drift method.

Using this method to image the moon :

  • Set your  scope at the western edge of the moon.
  • Turn off the RA tracking motor ( on my setup  with  a MEADE 494 AZ/EL Mount I use the terrestrial object setting which does not track)
  • Start capturing  images as the moon drifts by the FOV ( field of View)
  • Once you  reach the far side stop the image capture.
  • Now Move your scope back to  the western side but down just  overlapping the previous  strip.
  • proceed as before capturing the image as the moon drifts across the FOV.
  • Continue until the entire moon has been scanned. You  should have a number of AVI files. One for each  strip

To process the  strips into a single image:

  • Load a strip into K3CCD select 100 to  150  frames  and combine them into a single image.
  • Next process the next 100-150  frames. using the same settings for all the sets.
  • Continue un tile tall the strips have been processed. You  should now have a JPEG for each  block of 100-150  frames
  • The final step is to  merge these JPEGs in one mosaic. You  can use PhotoShop or other  stitching software to come up with  the final product.

IF everything works right you should have a complete shot of the moon. I haven't yet tried this method but intend to do so at the next full moon.

(More to come )



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