Archive for June, 2015

You too can make your own full-colour, high-resolution, deep-space images, just like the Tulip nebula mega-mosaic below – and you don’t even need to own a telescope.

However, you do need a copy of Photoshop and a copy of Noel Carboni’s Astronomy Actions for Photoshop.

The first thing you need to do is get your hands on the data which you will process into a full-colour image – I have described this process in an earlier Astronomy Now article – so if you are an Astronomy Now subscriber, look the process up there.

You will grab the data from the SkyView Query Form site.  Put in the co-ordinates of the object you want a picture of (or the object name) in the box at the top.  Go down to where it says what datasets are available and click on DSS2 red AND blue data.  Where it asks for image quality data put in 6000 pixels and leave the rest unchecked – this will give you a 6000 x 6000 pixel image at the highest spatial resolution on offer.  Send off the query and it will download the images to your monitor.  Go to the bottom of each image and click download the FITS files.  You will now have the red and blue channel data for your chosen object.  Now we need to process the data.

Open up Photoshop – and in Noel’s actions click on “Construct RGB image from channel files”.  This process expects you to supply red, green and blue channel data – but as you only have red and blue channel data you need to put the blue channel data into the green channel when the program asks you for it.  Go through the construct RGB process and at the end you will have a colour image of your object – but in the wrong colours as you didn’t provide any green channel data – fear not – Noel’s actions will come to the rescue!  Now click on “Synthesise Green Channel from Red and Blue” and Noel’s Actions will create an artificial green channel for your image giving something that looks a bit closer to “real” colour.

Now all you need to do is tweak the image in Photoshop to get something closer to what you are looking for.  I actually take the image into Paint Shop Pro at this point as it has a couple of very powerful “one click” processes.  I use the contrast enhancement tool on Darker/Normal/Normal and the saturation enhancement tool on More Colour/Normal – to get the image looking more how I want it – I then take it back into Photoshop for further cleaning up and to put on any (Noel Carboni) star spikes if I feel they are appropriate.

And that’s it.  You can produce deep-sky images of a quality far better than you can grab from your back garden with mega-expensive kit, and do it in far less time than it would take you to get just the data.  Makes you wonder why we actually bother to do it the hard way!

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I have been putting together a full-colour mega-mosaic of the Tulip nebula region in Cygnus using the wonderful DSS2 data.

As this is a pretty huge mosaic you can imagine the dataset was getting a bit unwieldy – and in fact my computer was starting to fall over – it couldn’t handle all the data.

So for now, until I get my hands on a Quantum Computer – this is it.  Won’t be adding any more to this one.

Printing out right now at A1-size on the HP Deskjet 130 6-colour printer.

Enjoy 🙂

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The recent 200mm/M26C data composited reasonably well with earlier 200mm/M25C data.  Unfortunately one camera was in portrait mode and the other in landscape mode – so I only got the overlapping square bit in the middle 🙁

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Got today’s EPOD with a winter-to-summer solstice solargraph using a 4-inch diameter drainpipe and a piece of A4 size photopaper 🙂

Thank you Jim at EPOD for continuing to publish my work.

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Clear Moonless night last night and good seeing – BUT – only 3 days before the summer solstice meant that the sky never really got dark and it was perhaps a bit stupid to image a nebula rather than a star field.  Never mind – live and learn – I have never taken an image this close to summer solstice before so didn’t realise it was a bit of a pointless exercise with an OSC.  Using both Canon 200mm lenses and both M26C OSC CCDs I managed to grab 20 x 15-minute subs on this one, so if the sky had only been dark this would have turned out pretty nice – 5-hours worth of 15-minute subs is nothing to be sniffed at.  So I will wait for darker nights before having another go at this one, but looking at this result, it’s got to be worth another try under better conditions.  In the meantime – if I get any more clear Moonless nights I think I will continue with the Lyra 4-framer, of which I currently have one frame.

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Just a reminder that you can see most of my Astronomical images on Flickr.

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If you need to hire high-power high-speed Xenon flashguns for your next photo-assignment then check Xenon Flash out 🙂

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A couple of nights ago with a full Moon I took some Arcturus data with the 3 x Sky 90s.

I combined the recent data with some taken a while back and came up with this result 🙂

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