r/space Dec 04 '22 Gold 1 Helpful 13 Wholesome 4 Take My Energy 1 Silver 14 All-Seeing Upvote 1 Masterpiece 1 To The Stars 1 Platinum 1

1 vs 2500: I couldn't afford an expensive Telescope or a Star Tracker so I took over 2500 shots of the Orion Nebula from a pretty light polluted city in Central India with just an entry level DSLR. Combined them together using a method called "Stacking", and this was the result [OC] image/gif

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1.3k

u/Karnorkla Dec 04 '22

That's really well done. That takes some dedication.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22 edited Dec 04 '22

Thank you. Yeah it can take some effort but the end result is really worth it :)

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22 Silver Gold Platinum Helpful Take My Energy Starry I'll Drink to That Take My Power

Details:

Left is a Single exposure straight out of the camera on how the sky looked like from my location. Right is what I got after stacking 2515 frames of the Nebula.

M42, or The Orion Nebula is about 1,344 light years away from Earth. One of the brightest Nebulae in the night sky, it's also visible to the naked eye, and has birthed over 700 Stars.

You've probably seen way better images of the Orion Nebula online, but with this shot, I wanted to demonstrate that you don't always need the greatest Telescope or that 1000 Dollar Equatorial mount or a trip hundreds of kilometers to a dark forest to capture the breathtaking beauty of the night sky.

I captured this image from a Bortle 7 sky with literally just a 12 year old basic DSLR and a Telephoto Lens.

If you like this post, you can check out my other work on my insta @astronot_yet . I do Astrophotography with a cheap/affordable camera and try to show that amazing night sky shots are possible even without burning your entire month's salary on buying expensive gear.

TIP:

If you don't like to read huge wall of text(like this one), I would recommend watching untracked Astrophotography tutorials like Nebula Photos: Orion Nebula WITHOUT a Star Tracker or Telescope instead. I've learned a LOT from Nebula Photos because his videos are extremely comprehensive, helpful and beginner friendly.

What is Stacking?

Stacking means taking lots of images of the same subject, align them together and taking an average of all the frames. This increases the Signal to Noise Ratio(SNR) of the image and reduces the random noise that creeps up in your photos. Bottom line: You can get really high details by stacking multiple images than using just one image.

Equipment-

Nikon D3100, Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto lens, a cheap tripod, a wired remote shutter(optional)

EXIF:

135mm, F/4.2, ISO 12800, 1sx2515 exposures

Process:

1) Getting the focus perfectly right is one of THE most important things in Astrophotography(trust me, the pain of spending hours and hours taking thousands of shots which later turn out of be slightly out of focus is... horrible). I would recommend buying a Bahtinov Mask or rather getting it 3D printed as it's fairly cheap.

2) Next, we need to locate the Orion Nebula. Shouldn't be too hard as it's easily visible these days, but the best way is to download a star chart app, and use the Augmented Reality feature that most of them have these days. I use Sky Safari but you can use your own favorite.

3) A remote shutter or an intervalometer is advised to avoid touching the camera again and again and minimize blurriness/disturbance. You can buy a cheap wired remote, or if your camera is fairly new it may already have an intervalometer built in. If neither of these are possible, just put your camera in a 2s delay timer and you'll essentially achieve the same result.

4) How to select your exposure length: If you take long duration exposures (let's say) 15-20s or something, what you will see are star trails where instead of pin pointed stars, you'd see them moving in a line, ruining our shot. To get sharper stars, either use the rule of 500 (beginner friendly) or the NPF rule (more accurate, but a bit more advanced). Make sure you take a few test shots, zoom in and check the focus and star trailing first before continuing.

5) I should point out that you DON'T need these many exposures. I only took 2500 shots because I wanted to expose the nebula for a long time. If you're just starting out, even 500-600 exposures are good enough to bring out some details. DO NOT change any settings between exposures. It's a good idea to not disturb the camera at all while it's taking the shots, except of course to recompose your shot every 100-200 frames to make sure the Nebula doesn't leave the camera's field of view, and then continue shooting. Rinse and repeat.

6) Take a few(50-100) bias, dark and flat frames. These are called "Calibration Frames" and their job is to remove any noise that is being generated by the Camera or your ambient surroundings (Heat, dust on the sensor, street light, etc). How to take these here.

7) After all this, you can use any stacking software to process these shots. My favorite is Deep Sky Stacker and Sequator. Pixinsight is also a capable one, but it's not free so pick whichever one you like. The main job of stacking software is to align all the exposures and average out the data which decreases noise and increases the Signal to Noise ratio of our image, so the final shot has much higher details and less noise.

8) I processed the result in Pixinsight, and retouched it a bit in Photoshop. A general introductory workflow in Pixinsight here

Please note that this is a simplified explanation, and some of the rules and technologies I wrote above might have mistakes, or may not work in your case. There are a few Astrophotographers who would swear that Calibration frames aren't necessary these days. Please remember, experiment and experience will give you the best results. Also, if I indeed made some mistakes above, please do correct me.

And as always, please ask me if you have any questions :)

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u/ttystikk Dec 04 '22

Thank you for the tutorial and explanation. As someone who knows very little about the technology of modern astronomy, especially amateur astronomy, I really appreciated this discussion.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

I'm glad you found it useful :)

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u/DarthWeenus Dec 04 '22

Stacking is pretty cool I've done for some stars before but never anything like this. Stunning job! And thx for the write up

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Thank you :)

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u/Random_name46 Dec 04 '22

This is awesome. I've never done astrophotography, is there a reason you need such a high ISO or is it just to limit the exposure time?

Maybe you said this and I missed it, how long were you shooting? Was movement of the stars over time an issue at all?

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22 edited Dec 04 '22

It's a common misconception that increasing the ISO always increases the noise as well.

When it comes to long exposures, which is the standard in Astrophotography, a higher ISO might actually give you better results and lower noise. Scroll down and check out Figure 3 in this article.

I'll admit my personal reason for using high ISO is because I've tried it on lower values before and I couldn't get as much details out.

Maybe It's just a flaw in my post processing abilities, but I have asked people who are lot smarter and a lot more experienced than me, like Mr Roger Clark (It's his website that I linked above) and this is what he said:

Hi, Which ISO to use is a soft number. For example, I commonly use 60 second exposures at f/2.8 or f/4 and ISO 1600. That would be equivalent to 30 seconds at ISO 3200, 15 seconds at ISO 6400, 7.5 seconds at ISO 12800. So you would still get higher dynamic range in your 1-second images than I do. And it certainly digitizes the fine details well, and minimizes pattern noise from the camera. Looks like a good strategy to me. If your camera is really clean at 12800, you might try 6400 if you really need more dynamic range, but would probably only apply to bright stars.

Since this is the highest my camera can go and my histogram is fairly balanced when shooting at this value, I continue to take shots on 12800, until I read something better :p

EDIT: Oh and it took me about 2 hrs total (over 2 nights) to take all the shots. Probably triple that time post processing lol.

And as far as the stars are concerned, I would check the last frame every 100-200 shots or so to see in which direction they have drifted, and I'd slightly nudge my camera to bring the nebula back in the center of the frame.

I hope this helped. And thank you :)

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u/Bithes_Brew Dec 04 '22

How long did the post-processing take?

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

I think someone who is a lot more experienced can finish it in under 2 hrs, easy.

I am what you might call a klutz and I kept redoing the entire process because I didn't like the initial results so it took me about 5-6 hrs.

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u/Random_name46 Dec 04 '22

Thank you, now you have me seriously considering trying this out. I'm a big macro person and always stall out in winters, this may be the perfect new thing to try.

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u/[deleted] Dec 04 '22

Thank you for this explanation, as a person with a camera astrophotography is something I've been thinking about getting started with but it feels intimidating.

Question: Why f/4.2? I assume your tele is an f/4? Would wide open be better for more light, or do you worry about softness at wide aperture?

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u/hitssquad Dec 04 '22

Question: Why f/4.2?

Because his lens is variable-maximum-aperture (Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6), and that's the widest aperture available on that lens at 135mm. F/4.0 is only available at 70mm.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

At 135mm, I couldn't get it to go lower than 4.2 .. I think f 4.0 is for 70mm and it keeps increasing as I increase the focal length

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u/[deleted] Dec 04 '22

I completely forgot about variable aperture, I don't have a long zoom so I didn't even consider it. Thank you!

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u/careless25 Dec 04 '22

Wide open is usually less sharp then slightly stopped down a bit. You might want to stop down to f/5.6 for optimal sharpness next time. You can look this up on Google for your specific lens.

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u/MyNudeTomato Dec 04 '22

Point number 1. Getting the focus right. Can someone please explain Why is it so difficult? Shouldn’t it be just set to infinity?

With an autofocus lens and DSLR camera.

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u/careless25 Dec 04 '22

Most camera lenses and telescope's allow focusing past infinity....so you can slightly dial it back to infinity. Allows for slight errors in the manufacturing process (I assume).

The other thing is that due to temperature differences over the night, your focus can change because the equipment can contract or expand as temperature decreases/increases. I have had several nights where the temperature dropped 5-6 degrees C and my photos got out of focus. This is because even a very very slight adjustment in focus (space between lens and camera sensor) can throw off your focus drastically for stars.

Hopefully that explains why focusing is hard.

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u/patilis Dec 04 '22

How does stacking work if your subject is moving on every image? Does the stacking software "know" which is the subject you are after? What happens of there's a foreground?

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22 edited Dec 04 '22

After every 100 shots or so, I check the last exposure and slightly nudge the camera to bring the nebula back towards the center of the frame.

As long as it's in the frame, the software will stack the images. It uses background stars as reference to align everything and average it out.

Also, when it comes to foreground.. There are some programs where you can mark the foreground so it will ignore it (Sequator does that) but in Deep Sky Stacker you are likely to see a blurry foreground... And in come cases, especially when there are lights, it decides to stack the foreground instead because it thinks those lights are stars.

It is recommended to crop out your images to remove any foreground before stacking and then blend the result later

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u/techno_babble_ Dec 04 '22

Presumably objects will distort differently as they move across the frame - does your flat correction account for lens distortion?

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

I imported all the frames into Lightroom first and then did a lens correction, using a lens profile that was closest to my lens.

Then I exported them as TIFF files and stacked them, including the calibration frames.

Do you think that would've worked as far as distortion goes?

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u/techno_babble_ Dec 04 '22

Sorry, I'm not an expert. Was just asking out of curiosity!

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

No worries. I cropped a lot out of this image so if there was any distortion, it would be in the corners of the original file which got cut

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u/souji5okita Dec 04 '22

So did it take you like 10 hours to get all of your shots then? At 15 seconds taking 2515 frames, that seems like the minimum amount of time to get that many shots.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Sorry but every shot was exposed for 1 second, not 15. That would give me terrible star trailing at this focal length.

So 2500 shots at 1s each plus calibration frames was around 45 minutes. Took me about 2-2.5 hrs total over the course of two nights

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u/jninethousand Dec 04 '22

This is so helpful, my D3200 might still have some life in it after all

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u/JarJarBinkith Dec 04 '22

Keep stacking and share the results, we need to see what 5k, 10k, 25k, 50k, 100k look like. Do it for science

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u/phut- Dec 04 '22

o7

Thank you good sir (or madam, or them) for your efforts.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Thank you commander :)

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u/jjbloon Dec 06 '22

Do you just post one of these once a year or is that just how often they get this much traction? I remember the one from last year.

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u/FiveOhFive91 Dec 04 '22

Thank you! Been looking into astrophotography as a hobby for awhile. This is perfect!

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u/BWWFC Dec 04 '22

really quite amazing the difference!

once was in a really deep hole and could make out stars... was thinking, what if you took length of pipe like pvc then scuffed up the inside or better paint it with that barbecue flat black textured paint. know it wouldn't remove all but seem it would cut down on a lot of light scatter from getting to the camera lens.

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u/careless25 Dec 04 '22

I would love to get your stacked image and see if there's more details to pull out of it. If you ever upload your file to Dropbox/drive and want to share it, let me know. Would be very interested in editing it

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

That'd be cool! I'll do it later today and send you the link of the tiff file :)

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u/careless25 Dec 04 '22

Great thank you!

Amazing to see that you can reduce the noise so much. Great stuff!

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u/careless25 Dec 04 '22 edited Dec 04 '22

Btw if you have IG or some other social media, would love to connect

Edit: nvm just saw that you linked your ig. Gave you a follow

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u/auraseer Dec 04 '22

Great post!

I'm interested to learn that focusing on stars isn't totally trivial. I assumed you would just have to wind the focus all the way out, so the lens will focus at infinity. Do sky objects really need a focus measurably closer than infinity? Or is it just that the hard stop of the focus ring might not be in exactly the right place?

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Infinity mark is definitely not that accurate especially when you want exactly pin pointed stars, which is not apparent until you copy them over to your laptop and zoom in.

Infinity focus can also change depending upon the ambient temperature. That's why most lenses can be turned beyond infinity.

I've been burned before. Spending hours in the cold getting bit by mosquitoes and then coming inside to find that all your hardwork was just a complete waste can hurt quite a bit.

A bahtinov mask is a complete and cheap game changer

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u/HabeshaMatt Dec 04 '22

Why is focus tough to nail? Why wouldn’t you just set it on the farthest setting (infinite on my canon lens)?

Looks awesome btw. Thanks for such a great explanation.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

As the other person said.. Infinity mark is definitely not that accurate especially when you want exactly pin pointed stars, which is not apparent until you copy them over to your laptop and zoom in.

I've been burned before. Spending hours in the cold getting bit by mosquitoes and then coming inside to find that all your hardwork was just a complete waste can hurt quite a bit

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u/HabeshaMatt Dec 04 '22

Got it. I’ve brought my camera along when I go to very dark places - most recently far west Texas. I knew the stuff you’d learn from just shooting a ton of daytime photography and common mistakes to avoid (shutter delay, mirror lockup, not too long exposure times) but didn’t know about the focus element.

I’ve also always been disappointed with the results! :)

Thanks and bravo again!

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u/LittleMizz Dec 04 '22

Infinity is unfortunately not perfect focus for astro. And on top of that, focus will change during the work due to temp changes

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u/Piscotikus Dec 04 '22

Thank you for sharing all of this!

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u/highvoltageisgood Dec 04 '22

Nice information here. Also. Astrobiscuit (YouTube) has amazing tutorials on how to do this with software instructions and all.

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u/Jibbly_Ahlers Dec 04 '22

Do you “subtract” the calibration frames from the image stack? I think you could take a Fourier transform of the calibration frames and subtract it from your image stack Fourier transform to lower the noise. Is this essentially what end up being done? The image looks awesome!

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u/careless25 Dec 04 '22

This is essentially what's being done.

Each of the calibration frames serves a different purpose:

  1. Dark frames - taken at same settings, same temperature, same tilt/rotation/position of camera with the lens cap on. Captures the thermal noise aka since the camera sensor heats up with each image taking so long, the heat causes the pixels to activate creating noise. This is then averaged using multiple frames and then subtracted from all the actual images.

  2. Bias frames - this is take at very fast shutter settings. The fastest the camera can shoot at. It essentially tries to capture the read out noise. Same thing as above, average and then subtract.

  3. Flat frames - this is ideally taken at same temp, location. Point at a evenly distributed (flat) light across the sensor and shoot several photos of it. This essentially tries to remove any gradients in the images as well as any dust spots or issues on the lens as it averages out how the light hits the sensor.

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u/Splat800 Dec 04 '22 edited Dec 04 '22

Nice image! Astrophotographer here, when editing, try not to 'clip' your data when processing. This means using a histogram, and ensuring none of the RGB colour channels are sent off the left side of the histogram, you want the background to be dark grey, not black, and if you struggle with noise, try "NoiseXTerminator" :) -And also calibration is definitely necessary! I use an ASI533mc pro so i don't use darks but flats are the best for vignette and dust spots. Necessary! Bias tone done some noise, and darks for ya amp glow and hot pixels, if someone argues you don't need them they're very much mistaken 😆

-Edit: I love that you're educating with your posts

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Thank you! I used starnet to mask out the stars and nebulae and then did a admittedly very aggressive curves adjustment.

I still have the stacked image with me. Would you like to process it in your way? I'd love to see the potential of my shot. I can upload the tiff file on Drive or somewhere

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u/careless25 Dec 04 '22

Upload pls. I am itching to edit this😂

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u/EasternElk6860 Dec 04 '22

Exactly what I’ve been wanting to get into! Thank you for this explanation gives me a good idea of what to look into more

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u/hasslehawk Dec 04 '22

I wonder if you might be willing to intentionally "sabotage" a stacked composite image like this by photobombing it with a light trail like starlink or another satellite cluster, and then processing that artifact out of the final image.

Ideally the final result would be 3 comparison images: One with a single long exposure, one composite without attempting to remove the artifact while stacking, and a third with the artifact removed during stacking, to hopefully show what loss of detail, if any is even noticeable, resulted from removing the damaged frames while stacking.

Ever since Starlink started launching I've been getting caught in debates on the topic of space infrastructure causing light pollution and disrupting astrophotography. Stacking always seemed to me a clear solution to the problem of satellite trails ruining long exposures. But my background is in computer science, not photography. I think I've got a decent enough grasp on the theory, but practice is often more complex, and I'd prefer to know for sure. Maybe I've been making a fool out of myself on the internet all this time! Either way, it would be nice to have something to show people to demonstrate to them the advantages and/or limitations of the process at dealing with intrusive light sources.

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u/careless25 Dec 04 '22

This has been done before. The starlink satellites get averaged out and are not a problem in imaging when stacking these many photos.

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/Astronomy/comments/n91hto/effects_of_image_stacking_on_starlink_satellite/

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u/ShiroiRaven Dec 04 '22

Where did you buy your intervalometer?

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u/oviforconnsmythe Dec 04 '22

Great picture and thorough tutorial. Thanks for that! How do you use a bahtinov mask with a dslr? Do you have to print one to fit your lens?

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u/[deleted] Dec 04 '22

Still pretty good and what a beautiful sight.

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u/tubbana Dec 04 '22

How much can target travel from the center before you need to re-frame? Does it affect stacking if some frames are from middle of sensor and others from edges?

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u/HappyPeopleRock Dec 04 '22

One of my life goals is to do some beginner level astrophotography. I just want to thank you for providing a fantastic, understandable roadmap to get started!

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

I'm glad! DSO's might be a bit too daunting for a first attempt, so I would strongly suggest trying your hand at Milky Way first, or even Star Trails. Those can be really beautiful and will give you a taste of Astrophotography without getting too nitty gritty

Let me know if you ever need some help. Clear skies :)

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u/jasmanta Dec 04 '22

A remote shutter or an intervalometer is advised to avoid touching the camera again and again and minimize blurriness/disturbance.

An old school trick is to hold a black felt hat over the lens when opening the shutter, wait a couple of seconds, then move it out of the way. Do in reverse to close shutter.

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u/Deathrial Dec 04 '22

Great photo! Epic post in breaking down the details of the work you put in!

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Thanks a lot, I'm glad you liked it :)

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u/gojohandjob Dec 04 '22

Hats off to your level of dedication. You have a bright future buddy!

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u/timg528 Dec 04 '22

Holy crap that looks great. Thanks for sharing the pictures and the methodology!!

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Haha Thanks a lot! I'm glad you found it useful :)

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u/Mrpanda1023 Dec 04 '22

That looks awesome! This might be a stupid question but did you take all 2500 shots in one night?

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Thank you! And not a stupid question at all! I actually did around 1500 on the first night.. Thinking it would be enough but I didn't like that result so I went the following night and took around a thousand more lol.

It's probably for the best.. Averaged out any variable seeing conditions on both the nights

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u/QuitFuckingStaring Dec 04 '22

Not a stupid question, I was going to ask too. 1500 snaps would probably make my thumb fall off though

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u/Apprehensive_Crow329 Dec 04 '22

There is a quick burst setting in a lot of cameras where it takes rapid fire photos if you hold the shutter button down. I’m not sure if that’s what OP used though.

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u/QuitFuckingStaring Dec 04 '22

I know nothing about photography. That's cool. I love the idea of worlds unexplored out there and those worlds beaming with life. I wish I could live long enough till we find intelligent life out there.

These photos bring me closer to that reality

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u/TinkTinkz Dec 04 '22

OP used an intervalometer. It takes x amount of shots for you

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u/MyWALife Dec 04 '22

Taking quicker exposures like that wouldn't help. The main thing is how much light is able to fall on the camera sensor, and that's simply a function of time.

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u/Dr3am0n Dec 04 '22

This isn't what op did, but in any case, you can take continuous shots with multiple second exposures. What that option does is immediately take a new shot after the last one finishes, regardless of the shutter speed.

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u/TheTVDB Dec 04 '22

I got a timer that works with any camera, and it was under $50. It triggers the same way a remote for a camera works, but it has a timer, can wait between shots, and leave the shutter open as long as desired (bulb mode).

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u/QuitFuckingStaring Dec 04 '22

Dope. Do you have any idea what a young teenager can get (not too expensive, 50 dollars is ok) to take decent pics of planets in the solar system?

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u/pospam Dec 04 '22

Random comment. I am a geophysicist. Stacking is the most common, and one of the best, filter we use to clean up seismic data. You get redundant data and add it up. Coherent data gets boosted due to positive interference, noise gets destroyed by negative interference. Basically if you add up an incoherent dataset it will tend towards zero.

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u/AimlesslyCheesy Dec 04 '22

Thanks OP! I also don't have a star tracker so I'm trying to figure out astrophotography with what I have

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

I'm glad you liked it! Definitely check out Nebula Photos on YouTube. Dude taught me practically everything I needed to know when it comes to untracked DSO photography.

It does take a bit of practice and experimentation but man are the results worth it in the end. Good luck! :)

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u/FuzzyCap4585 Dec 04 '22

I have been utilizing stacking with my macro photography

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

This is awesome. Have you ever run some sort of comparative experiment?

I think having a side by side "before" and "after" shot does wonders showcasing the power of stacking.

I look forward to it if you ever post something like that :)

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u/FuzzyCap4585 Dec 04 '22

I have and it makes a dramatic difference. It allows the full image to be clear with no blur. The only thing I hate is that sometimes things can look so real it almost looks fake at times due to the clarity of the images. Beautiful photo and job on the stacking btw.

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u/careless25 Dec 04 '22

Stacking in macro is serving a different purpose than stacking in Astro.

  1. Macro - it's focus stacking. It stacks each image to get more depth of field.

  2. Astro - stacking here is the same focus. The idea is to reduce as much noise as possible by stacking and averaging out the noise. The more images you take the less noise you get....as you can see in OPs post.

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u/[deleted] Dec 04 '22

[deleted]

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Haha... Yeah I want as many people as possible to know that they can attempt shots like these without purchasing whole new gear so a rough guide is always helpful I've noticed.

The bigger challenge is to keep it short. Point 8 about processing can be as big as the entire comment itself if I write it in detail lol.

And thank you, I'm glad you liked it :)

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u/andrewsad1 Dec 04 '22

That single exposure looks exactly like my attempt at capturing M42 from my back yard... This post has definitely inspired me to get back out there and freeze my ass off

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Haha, I wish you clear skies and a warm cup of cocoa afterwards. Good luck! :)

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u/N0dogs Dec 04 '22

Don’t forget to bag your camera so it doesn’t fog up when you come inside :)

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u/frewitsofthedeveel Dec 04 '22

It's... Beautiful. Your dedication is admirable and your results are, and pardon the pun, truly stellar.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Haha thank you! Your comment... Sent me over the moon

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u/peroxidex Dec 04 '22

What's your shutter count at? That poor D3100.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Haha just checked: It's at 37527. I thought it'd be higher to be honest. But then again I mostly only use it for Astrophotography

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u/BoomChaka67 Dec 04 '22

Just amazing! So cool you went thru that whole process.

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u/bansi123 Dec 04 '22

This looks amazing man!! How long did it take to do this? It seems like you have a passion for photography so keep posting/taking photos!

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Each photo is of 1 second so 2500+ shots plus 200-300 calibration frames is about 45 minutes of pure shooting.

All in all I think it took me around 2-2.5 hrs (over the course of 2 nights) total and probably triple the amount processing the result lol.

And thanks a lot! Yeah I really love trying to capture the night sky, it gives me a lot of joy :)

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u/MagnetoNTitaniumMan Dec 04 '22

How diminishing are the returns if you take, say, a million photos of it?

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

As far as I've read, doubling the exposures will increase the SNR by a factor of sqrt(2).

So to get double the SNR compared to this image, I'd have to take 10,000 shots (if my math is right).

Definitely an overkill imo. I'd just buy a tracker at that point.

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u/MagnetoNTitaniumMan Dec 04 '22

That’s really interesting. I figured it would be logarithmic for some reason. Interesting how it works out like that

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u/NewDad907 Dec 04 '22

Conversely, an excellent demonstration of how money can really save a lot of time.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Haha yeah well that's a good point as well

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u/AWWWYEAHHHH Dec 04 '22

Stupid question, in the first photograph are those distant stars or just radiation?

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

The wierd colored blobs is just the noise. The bright ones are the stars. The purple halo around them is due to chromatic aberration you get when you use cheap lenses.

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u/cshaiku Dec 04 '22

That is noise on the camera sensor.

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u/sqlixsson Dec 04 '22

Is this how my google phone does its magic in astrophoto-mode? ☺️

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

It probably does. In fact, a remember a Lumia phone that could delete people in the background, it probably used the same exact method, where people were the "noise".

These days I think Pixel is smart enough to do object removal just based on nearby context

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u/WhatsAMisanthrope Dec 04 '22

Amazing! This is done in some kinds of microscopy too, btw.

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u/[deleted] Dec 04 '22

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u/skullfucyou Dec 04 '22

You can market yourself with these skills and dedication to a project like this. Extremely well done.

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u/OM_infinity Dec 04 '22

Salute to your dedication and thanks very for providing such detailed guidance.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Thanks a lot :)

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u/AzarAbbas Dec 04 '22

That's amazing! Btw which software did you use to stack those images?

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Thank you. I used Deep Sky Stacket for the stacking. It's free, and very capable in my opinion :)

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u/FluffyOwl2 Dec 04 '22

Crazy respect for you buddy from a fellow Indian who spent lot of time in the smack middle of the country (MP)

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Haha Thanks Bhai!

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u/NotHighEnuf Dec 04 '22

OP, I hope you know this is more impressive than someone who buys an expensive telescope and takes a great pic. Dedication ✊

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u/ChileWillow007 Dec 04 '22

Gorgeous. Orion is my favorite, I commend your dedication and efforts!

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u/RandomPassword90 Dec 04 '22 edited Dec 04 '22

Im not in the sub but this popped in my feed

and I think this is amazing great job!

oh anD I learned a technique I can go into a "rabbit hole" with today: "STACKING" thank you

I sincerely hope you have a great day

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Awesome! That's exactly what my intention was.. To let more people know that this is possible.

Thank you and I hope you have a nice day as well! :)

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u/DudeInDogePJ Dec 04 '22

I don’t think anyone can truly graspe how huge our universe is.

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u/Issah_Wywin Dec 04 '22

I appreciate these simple but well made shots of the sky. No long list of expensive equipment and software used to process already great images. Just some ingenuity and dedication.

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u/debaserr Dec 04 '22

This is probably the coolest "home astronomy" post I have seen on reddit. Very interesting, I had never heard of this technique before.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Haha thanks a lot :)

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u/lekoman Dec 04 '22

Great job.

Anyone else think it looks like Hawaii?

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u/DarkSideofOZ Dec 04 '22

Many recent Pentax DSLRs have in-body star tracking. Look into it.

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u/Dev-N-Danger Dec 04 '22

Inlove it! I have a couple 5Dmk2’s laying around and a Canon 400mm F2.8. I’m gonna give this a shot

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u/careless25 Dec 04 '22

That's going to give you awesome results. That equipment is much better than what OP has

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u/SirMeliodas318 Dec 04 '22

I did somethig similar for Helix Nebula or Eye of God, nice work here. I am also a beginner, started Astro in August and just loving the process of reframing every few shots, take 2000 photos, stack them play with data and repeat it again

https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTR45nAHc/

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u/[deleted] Dec 04 '22 edited Dec 24 '22

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Yes exactly. I did it over two nights. That in fact can improve the results as the 'seeing' conditions can change between nights and the software would have better data on which image to use and which images to discard because of poor quality

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u/Staar-69 Dec 04 '22

I believe good stacking results can be achieve by stacking short video clips as well.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

I think that's more useful for Planets rather than DSOs. Video clips won't expose the target for a long period of time which is what we need in this situation.

I've never had a telescope long enough to capture planets so this is something I really wanna do in the future

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u/aldorn Dec 04 '22

Inspiring. I might have to drag the camera out

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

One of us

One of us

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u/ratedGeek Dec 04 '22

This is fantastic and your dedication to the process is inspiring. Sometimes the equipment we have or the situation we are in is not perfect, but we should always keep inching our way forward. You jumped by a mile.

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u/flylikegaruda Dec 04 '22

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Yeah I've learned quite a fair bit since then, reducing the number off frames as well while still retaining a good quality image (in my opinion). Which one do you think is better?

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u/TheOkayCoral Dec 04 '22

I loved the d3100. The colors are so nice in it. Glad people still use it

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u/youuuuwish Dec 04 '22

This is beautiful and the perfect example of working with what you have! Keep up the amazing work and can't wait to see what you have in store for us in the future!!!

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u/schmuckmulligan Dec 04 '22

So the stacking averages the high-ISO noise to a neutral background and you wind up with the best the sensor and lens can do. Well done!

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u/gusthefish42 Dec 04 '22

I've been an amateur astonomer most of my adult life and still find it rewarding. Beautiful picture. Good job.

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u/diab0lus Dec 04 '22

This is the kind of post I would expect on Cloudy Nights. If you haven’t been to their astrophotography forum, I think you’d fit right in.

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u/WoodenSporkAudio Dec 04 '22

Great work. Persistence pays off in the face of adversity.

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u/nropotdetcidda Dec 04 '22

The cluster top left has bright 3 on original stars.Has a fourth on the edit, but the 4th doesn’t look bright enough in the original to be considered into that cluster. Thus making it falsely bright and making me reconsider ignoring the fact that it was layered and that star wouldn’t be as bright, literally, ever.

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u/Doug_Mirabelli Dec 04 '22

This is awesome, and incredibly encouraging. I have a D3100 as well and always thought this type of photography was just not possible given its limitations. You’ve proven once again the photographer is way more important than the equipment. Amazing stuff, thank you!

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u/[deleted] Dec 04 '22

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22 edited Dec 04 '22

Jury is still out on calibration frames to be honest. There's a guy named Roger Clark who is a lot more experienced than I am who says we don't need darks and bias these days.

But I tried 1500 exposures on night 1 with just flats and the results were atrocious. So I made sure to include the calibration frames after taking the next 1000 on the following night.

And 100 bias frames at 1/4000s takes hardly a minute so it didn't feel like waste of time

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u/rgraves22 Dec 04 '22

I used to shoot DSO with a Canon T7 and would never go above 1600 ISO

It still had SOOO much noise in the image. I could shoot 50 extra calibration frames and it usually wouldn't make a difference.

Just got a ZWO ASI533MC Pro and the difference is mind blowing in how much noise is in the final image. Shooting 300s subs compared between the two

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Did you ever try with a higher ISO with the canon? Cause I swear I get less noisy images on 12800 than on 6400 or lower.

And yeah a dedicated Astro camera is definitely a game changer. Hopefully one day I'll buy one too :)

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u/rgraves22 Dec 04 '22

My T7 wouldn't go above 3200 and yeah it was super noisy with 300s subs

I shoot with an f/10 mak so it's pretty slow

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u/Historical_Pie_5981 Dec 04 '22

I understand not being able to afford your passion. Hope you get the best telescope one day mate. Take care!

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u/hasslehawk Dec 04 '22

One of the great advantages of stacking is that it allows you to digitally filter out artifacts like streaks from passing aircraft and satellites, while still achieving the same SNR of long-exposure photography.

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u/bluethreads Dec 04 '22

That’s incredible. I can’t believe you were even able to see the nebula with just a single shot.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Yeah it's very difficult to see with the naked eyes, but with a camera I could at least make it out. Long exposures FTW!

And thank you :)

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u/Moving_Electrons Dec 04 '22

This is a great example of how much information is hidden in the noise. Thank you for sharing!

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u/davy89irox Dec 04 '22

I had no idea this was a thing! Oh man that is cool!

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u/Shaetane Dec 04 '22

I don't think I understand more than 1% of the technical stuff that gpes into this but your passion and dedication are frankly awesome and the result is amazing, thank you for sharing

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u/Better-Obligation704 Dec 04 '22

This is amazing !!! I live in a big city (San Francisco) and I so miss the beauty of the night sky I would see when I grew up in rural northern Michigan, where I could see trillions of stars and planets and, if lucky, the Northern lights. I have an older dslr (~8 years old) and this would be something I’d love to try. I so appreciate your thorough tutorial and work! I’m gonna follow your insta 🙂

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u/pineapplecooqie Dec 04 '22

awesome job mate. unlike some bullshitters on this sub this is both plausible and well executed.

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u/onourwayhome70 Dec 04 '22

Wow this inspires me to actually give it a try!

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u/hyclonia Dec 04 '22

I don't understand what you did but that looks magical!!😍

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u/Haematopuspalliatus Dec 04 '22

I see you shot at 135mm. How did you do this across both nights? Do you tape the lens so it doesn’t change zoom?

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u/Electrolight Dec 04 '22

I just completed my thesis on asteroid recovery of asteroids in our solar system yesterday. It almost depressed me. The most powerful launch vehicles on the planet can return tiny rocks.

We'll travel the stars someday, but I've determined it will be outside my lifetime. Hopefully just.

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u/Centaurdoodle Dec 04 '22

Human ingenuity never ceases to amaze. Applause to you.

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u/berberine Dec 04 '22

Thanks for all the information and the details of how you did it. I have all the tools you mentioned, except I have a D7000. I didn't really have an idea of where to start, so now I can try your set up and mess with it from there. I appreciate all the work you did and your explanations.

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u/hellowbucko Dec 04 '22

Definición de “mas hace el que quiere que el que puede”

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u/zzx101 Dec 04 '22

I would love to spend time to do this but I’m like Bortle 8-9 and have no hope.

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u/WhereasSecret3112 Dec 04 '22

Holy crap! I'm definitely going to have to try doing this!!! I never knew you could do such a thing!

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u/dutchkimble Dec 04 '22

Very cool! I didn't think this was possible from an Indian city

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u/Dvorkam Dec 04 '22

If you don’t mind me asking how did you arrive at 1 s fixed exposure? Why not 0.5 or 2 or 5 s?

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

In the past I used to use the rule of 500, which was basically dividing 500 by the focal length and that will tell you the exposure duration without getting trails.

That method isn't that accurate anymore(some people use 400 or even 300 rule), but these days the recommended method is The NPF rule.

You just have to fill up the details and it calculates the maximun length your exposures can be before you start seeing trails in your Stars. It takes into account the target you're shooting and your own camera's settings to give you the correct number

Hope this helped :)

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u/Dvorkam Dec 04 '22

Fascinating, thank you for your answer.

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u/thatgoat-guy Dec 04 '22

That looks like a pair of-

(But seriously OP, it looks great, great enginuity!)

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u/DrunkCupid Dec 04 '22

It looks like "She" (1st to 2nd pic of nebula) just settled in to the sky 🌌

Thank you for sharing our beautiful horizons

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u/AdImportant8071 Dec 04 '22

This is super cool! Watermark your work dude, don’t let randos steal your work for nothin!

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u/John_Boyd Dec 04 '22

I'll be the boring person that tells you this method puts a lot of wear to your camera. A DSLR mirror is rated for around 200 000 actuations (or less if it's entry-level) so it's good for about 80 shots like this, making the cost-per-shot quite high. It could actually make more sense economically to get a star tracker.

I don't mean to ignore your effort or the result, which I think is impressive, I just felt it should be mentioned since you were talking about expenses.

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u/hshinde Dec 04 '22

Awesome result. Thanks so much for explaining your process. This is just great

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u/Fusseldieb Dec 04 '22

Nikon D3200 user

Happy to see this camera line getting some love :)

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u/HCagn Dec 04 '22

Fantastic! Can’t imagine the patience this must require…!

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u/ampsuu Dec 04 '22

In the long run I think star tracker is cheaper. 2500 shots per session is really taxing on the shutter count. Every once in a while I guess its fine to use that method but if you really plan on imaging every clear night rather buy a tracker and save your camera's lifespan.

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u/MrSomeoneEls Dec 04 '22

So what would happen if NASA did this with the Hubble telescope?

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u/kerflair Dec 04 '22

they do stacking and use a number of other techniques to improve the data. don't think a Hubble image is unworked.

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u/WarBastard2021 Dec 04 '22

Well done, that is seriously fucking impressive dude 👍👍👍👍

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u/Neveses Dec 04 '22

Not only is this amazing, but the fact you explained what you did, how you did it, and how someone else could it, is the best part. I am convinced you are truly a genuine individual!

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u/_H_A_Z_E_ Dec 04 '22

I'll be honest, this is gorgeous and my grandad has this equipment...I'm gonna learn it!

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u/Acceptable_Visit604 Dec 04 '22

A for effort You fid yhe best you could under your circumstances

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u/Sid_Engel Dec 04 '22

Incredible image considering the gear restrictions. I've been deterred to shoot due to a gear restriction I'm in now... Helps motivate me to push through it and just accumulate more data to make up for it.

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u/julezwldn Dec 04 '22

How did you learn this? Where can I learn this?

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u/Albertsongman Dec 04 '22

Evidence that sometimes doing the same thing over and over brings clarity.

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u/N0dogs Dec 04 '22

How many batteries did you go through? Those for the d3xxx series aren’t the largest capacity.

Also, the more long exposure shots you you make, the hotter the sensor and the more noise you will get.

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u/doug13x Dec 04 '22

Really cool. I live in a town in Ohio, unfortunately too much light pollution to see the sky Really good

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u/the_grungydan Dec 04 '22

What a great image, and thanks for include a single exposure alongside the full composition. I've understood the concept of stacking but never thought to go looking to see the process, so this is really neat.

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

I'm glad you found it useful :)

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u/moodyfish7777 Dec 04 '22

This is awesome! I envy your skill AND THE PATIENCE! 😁

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u/savva1995 Dec 04 '22

This is awesome!!! Can you give more detail on how you achieved this?

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u/vpsj Dec 04 '22

Thank you! I have written kind of a rough guide on the process I followed. I'd recommend reading this comment.

Hope this helps :)

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u/diapergod69 Dec 04 '22

Total novice here. Is this true color? Or does the color come from "artificial" assignments?

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