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NGC 7000 and IC 5070, aka North American and Pelican Nebulae
Lens: Stellarvue SV70t 70mm telescope with SFFR70-APO field flattener/reducer Camera: K-5iis Photo Location: York Prairie Natural Area, WI ISO: 800 Shutter Speed: Above 6s Aperture: F4.8 
Posted By: fewayne, 07-29-2018, 02:43 PM

Starting to get autoguiding figured out. This is data from two separate nights of imaging, about 70 individual 180-second frames stacked and processed in Photoshop. The telescope is more or less a dedicated APS-C astrograph, 480mm focal length but with the flattener/reducer in play it's more like 362mm. This is at least the third time I've processed this image since I shot the frames during the new moon earlier this month, and I don't think I'm done yet. The stars are still too big and garish, there's no color in them, and the nebula could have a subtler tonal range, I think. Still, I'm learning. Comedy is easy. Astro is hard.


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07-30-2018, 02:01 AM   #2
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I had a very long list of things to do this morning but instead I've been looking in fascination at your sky photos and reading the Singapore photo link, I'm not sure I'd have the patience to take all the shots you have done and the stacking sounds complicated but the results are certainly worth the work, very well done.
07-30-2018, 11:30 AM   #3
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Wow, thanks! If you really want a bottomless time-sink of jaw-dropping astro imagery, just drop in on astrobin.com and click around. For example, search for "North American" on their home page and marvel at what the astrophotographers who know what they're doing have done with this deep-sky object.

Figuring everything out and getting it set up for a night of imaging...I tend to think "Sheesh, how hard could it be, I can do it." But I've served a pretty intense apprenticeship, and I think I undervalue just how much I've learned in the past 2-3 years. However, the actual doing is mostly a matter of swatting mosquitoes in the summer and shivering in the winter, while the shutter goes "click" and the mount makes those contended little grunting noises as the autoguiding software nudges it about.

Processing, though. That's another story. However you'd be amazed at what you can accomplish with anywhere between 10 and 50 time exposures -- say, 15 seconds for a wide-angle lens -- of the night sky. The elements of stacking and processing a photo like that can really, honestly, for realz learned in an evening. Perfecting it takes a lifetime, of course. Or so I assume!

Lonelyspeck.com has some great Milky Way tutorials, including shooting it with your cell phone!

---------- Post added 07-30-18 at 14:07 ----------

Just tweaked the processing on this -- did Levels to set the black point a little higher, making the shadows darker, and then Stamp Visible, duplicate the layer, and set blend mode to Soft Light at 27% opacity. Much more dramatic image, without IMHO looking cheesily garish. Maybe a teeny bit of the nebulosity lost off the dark end, which is acceptable.


Last edited by fewayne; 07-30-2018 at 01:42 PM.
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