Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Multi-star PHD2 auto-guiding, AstroDMx Capture for Linux; Atik 314L mono cooled CCD camera and M51

Equipment used

Xubuntu laptop running AstroDMx Capture for Linux.

Fedora Linux laptop running PHD2, multi-star pulse auto-guiding.

Skywatcher HEQ5 GOTO mount.

SVBONY SV165 Guide-scope D=30mm F=120mm.

Eklipse Ekinox ED F=440mm, 80mm, f/5.5 refractor. 

QHY 5L-II-M guide camera.

Atik 314L mono, cooled 16-bit CCD imaging camera.

JJC DHS-1 USB Lens Heater Strip Dew Remover.


Object for imaging

M51, the Whirlpool galaxy.


The imaging kit


The imaging kit, Fedora auto-guiding laptop and Xubuntu imaging laptop


An INDI server was run with PHD2 on the Fedora Linux laptop to do multi-star, pulse auto-guiding

Screenshot of PHD2 multi-star, pulse auto-guiding


Multi-star PHD2 auto-guiding was used during the capture of the M51 data.

AstroDMx Capture for Linux was used to capture 10 x 10min FITS exposures of M51 with matching dark-frames using the Atik 314L CCD camera. 

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for Linux capturing images of M51


The images were stacked in Deep Sky Stacker using dark frames and flat-fields, and post processed in Affinity Photo, The Gimp 2.10 and Neat Image.

M51


With the Skywatcher HEQ5 GOTO mount, PHD multi-star auto-guiding produced good results with no movement between or within images.

The use of flat-fields was very important because there is significant variation in the sensitivity of different regions of the CCD sensor in this old CCD camera.

The master-flat derived from 50 flat-fields

The dark regions are easily visible in this partially stretched master-flat. Using the flat-fields to calibrate the captured data eliminates the sensitivity variation in the stacked image.


Monday, 5 April 2021

Multi-star PHD2 pulse auto-guiding, AstroDMx Capture for macOS; ZWO ASI178MC 14-bit uncooled CMOS camera. Clusters and galaxies.

Equipment used

Macbook Air running AstroDMx Capture for macOS.

Fedora Linux laptop running PHD2, multi-star pulse auto-guiding, and also, when required, Stellarium.

Celestron AVX GOTO mount.

SVBONY SV165 Guide-scope D=30mm F=120mm.

Eklipse Ekinox ED F=440mm, 80mm, f/5.5 refractor. 

QHY 5L-II-M guide camera.

ZWO ASI178MC uncooled CMOS (USB3.0, 14 bit ADC) imaging camera.

JJC DHS-1 USB Lens Heater Strip Dew Remover.

Objects for imaging

M48 open cluster.

Part of Markarian’s chain of galaxies.

M3 globular cluster

The imaging kit


An INDI server was running on the Fedora Linux laptop to control the mount via the handset. Stellarium was used to select the objects to be imaged and to send the mount to the objects.

Screenshot of the Stellarium INDI server setup


Screenshot of Stellarium + INDI aquiring a target


The INDI server was then run with PHD2 on the Fedora Linux laptop to do multi-star, pulse auto-guiding

Screenshot of PHD2 multi-star, pulse auto-guiding


Multi-star PHD2 auto-guiding was used during the capture of all three objects in this imaging session.

AstroDMx Capture for macOS was used to capture 20 x 180s FITS exposures of the open cluster M48 with matching dark-frames using the ZWO ASI178MC camera. 

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for macOS capturing images of M48


The images were stacked in Affinity Photo and the resulting image post processed in Affinity Photo and the Gimp 2.10.

M48


AstroDMx Capture for macOS was used to capture 12 x 5min FITS exposures with matching dark-frames, of part of Markarian’s chain of galaxies. 

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for macOS capturing data on Markarian’s Chain


The images were stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, and post processed in Affinity Photo, The Gimp 2.10 and Neat Image.

Part of Markarian’s Chain


AstroDMx Capture for macOS was used to capture 15 x 100s FITS exposures, with matching dark-frames of the globula cluster M3. 

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for macOS capturing FITS images of M3


The images were stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, and post processed in Affinity Photo, The Gimp 2.10 and Neat Image.

M3

With the Celestron AVX mount, PHD multi-star auto-guiding produced good results with no movement between or within images.

The ZWO ASI178MC colour camera performed well and AstroDMx Capture for macOS delivered good data.


Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Experimenting with multi-star pulse auto-guiding using a Fedora Linux computer running an Indi server running a Celestron mount driver.

A William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD Apochromatic refractor with an  Atik 314L mono CCD camera at the focus, was mounted on a Celestron AVX mount, by the side of a 50mm guidescope fitted with a QHY 5L-II-M guide camera.

A Linux computer running PHD2 and an Indi server running a Celestron mount driver was used to do muti-star pulse guiding. This method of auto-guiding gives better control over the mount than ST4 guiding or pulse guiding with a single star. The effects of seeing are averaged out over the set of stars chosen by PHD2, allowing shorter guide-camera exposures to be used without ‘chasing the seeing’

Using AstroDMx Capture for macOS, 10 x 3 minute FITS exposures of M44, the Beehive cluster were made and stacked in Deep Sky Stacker with flat-fields and matching dark-frames.

Screenshot from the Fedora Linux computer doing multi-star pulse guiding.

M44, the Beehive Cluster


Multi-star auto-guiding was introduced into PHS2 in December 2020, and should improve the guiding process.

We have shown here that Multi-star auto-guiding using a Linux computer running an Indi server and imaging using AstroDMx Capture for macOS was a good working combination. However, any combination of Linux, macOS and Windows for PHD2 auto-guiding and AstroDMx Capture imaging can be used.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Autoguided data on the Christmas Tree cluster and nebula, and the Leo triplet of galaxies

A William Optics Zenithstar 66, apochromatic refractor was mounted on an aluminium plate at the side of a short guidescope with a QHY 5L-II M monochrome CMOS camera which was attached by the ST4 guideport to the Autoguiding port of the Celestron AVX mount on which everything was mounted. The PHD2 auto-guiding was done with a Fedora Linux Laptop.

A ZWO ASI178MC  14-bit CMOS colour camera was placed at the focus of the apochromatic refractor.

The AVX mount was slewed to Rigel so that a Bahtinov mask could be used to achieve optimum focus.

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for macOS showing the Bahtinov mask focusing of Rigel.


After focusing, the mount was slewed to the Christmas tree cluster for guiding and imaging.

There was only opportunity to capture 4 x 7min FITS exposures of the Christmas Tree Cluster before it moved into an unfavourable position .

The images were dark-frame corrected and Stacked in Affinity Photo, and post processed in Affinity Photo, The Gimp 2.10, FastStone and Neat Image.

The Christmas Tree cluster and nebula.



The scope was slewed to the Leo Triplet of galaxies and PHD2 auto-guiding commenced, using a Fedora Linux laptop.

12 x 5 minute auto-guided FITS exposures of the Leo Triplet were captured by Astrodmx Capture for macOS with matching dark-frames.

The images were tacked in Affinity Photo and post processed in Affinity Photo, the Gimp 2.10, Fitswork4 and Neat Image.

The Leo Triplet galaxies


ST4 PHD2 auto-guiding worked fine in Linux. Pulse guiding will soon be tested with a variety of guide cameras.
Meanwhile some features and SDK changes are being made to AstroDMx Capture on all platforms and will shortly be incorporated into another release of the software.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

M37 plus uguided and guided data on IC 2177 and their combination

A William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD Apochromatic refractor wasmounted on a Celestron AVX mount. An Atik 314L mono CCD was mounted at the focus. FITS images with matching dark frames were captured using AstroDMx Capture for macOS of M37. 

35 x 20s exposures were stacked in Affinity Photo and post processed in Affinity Photo and the Gimp 2.10.

M37 in Auriga


The camera was fitted with a H-alpha narrowband filter and 5 minute, unguided FITS images were captured with matching dark frames. 9 x 5min unguided FITS exposures of the central part of the Seagull nebula were stacked in Affinity Photo with flat fields and post processed in Affinity Photo, the Gimp 2.10 and Neat Image.

Unguided Seagull nebula, IC 2177, 45 minutes total exposure time


The next night, the Atik 314L CCD camera fitted with a H-alpha narrowband filter was mounted alongside a 50mm guidescope fitted with a QHY 5L-II mono CMOS guide camera.

The scope was autoguided using PHD2 running on a Fedora Linux computer.

The guiding rig


Screenshot of PHD2 autoguiding.


8 x 10 minute FITS exposures were captured of the central part of the Seagull nebula using AstroDMx Capture for macOS on a Mackbook Air computer.

The equipment capturing images of the Seagull nebula


Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for macOS capturing 10 minute, guided images of the Seagull nebula, IC 2177.


The FITS images were stacked, dark frame and flat field corrected in Affinity Photo. The final image was post processed in Affinity Photo, the Gimp and Neat Image.

The Seagull nebula, 1 hour, 20 minutes total exposure time


The two images of the Seagull nebula covered slightly different areas of the nebula so they were stitched into a mosaic using Affinity Photo.

Mosaic of the Seagull nebula


Autoguiding allows for longer exposures  and these experiments have shown that PHD2 can be used with Linux, whilst the capturing was done by AstroDMx Capture for macOS.


Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Testing AstroDMx Capture and an SV305 camera with MX Linux

With a virtually full Moon in the sky, a William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD Apochromatic refractor was mounted on a Celestron AVX mount and an SVBONY SV305 camera was placed at the focus.

AstroDMx Capture for Linux running in MX Linux was used to capture two overlapping 2000-frame SER files

Click on an image to get a closer view

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture capturing a 2000 Frame SER file in MX Linux


The best 50% of the frames in the SER files were stacked in Autostakkert!, wavelet processed in Registax 6 and post processed in The Gimp and Affinity Photo, and the images stitched in Microsoft ICE.

The Final image


Final image with enhanced colour saturation to reveal more of the mineralogical variation in the Moon's surface

The SV305 once again proves it's worth in combination with a short-tube apochromatic refractor and yet another distribution of Linux; MX Linux.

Monday, 1 March 2021

The Horsehead region with AstroDMx Capture and PHD autoguiding.

A William Optics Zenithstar 66, apochromatic refractor was mounted on an aluminium plate at the side of a short guidescope with a QHY 5L-II M monochrome CMOS camera which was attached by the ST4 guideport to the Autoguiding port of the Celestron AVX mount on which everything was mounted.

An Atik 314L mono CCD camera fitted with a narrowband H-alpha filter was placed at the focus of the apochromatic refractor.

The capture and guidescope mounting on the Celestron AVX mount


The Atik CCD camera was attached to a Macbook Air running AstroDMx Capture for macOS and the QHY CMOS guide camera was attached to a Lenovo ThinkPad X230 laptop running Fedora Linux with PHD2 running as the autoguiding software

The capturing and autoguiding equipment


Screenshot of the PHD2 autoguiding of the scope



The MacBook Air capturing 16-bit FITs data on the Horsehead/Flame nebula regionT
The 16-bit display controls in AstroDMx Capture allowed a good preview of the objects being captured

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture capturing a 24 minute exposure


10 x 6 minute exposures, 1 x 12 minute exposure and 2 x 24 minute exposures were captured with matching dark frames. The Autoguiding performed extremely well and there was zero movement of the image as each image was captured and displayed.

The FITs files were stacked and calibrated with the dark frames and previously captured flat fields in Affinity Photo on the MacBook. The resulting stacked image, which comprised a total exposure time of 2 hours was post processed in Affinity Photo, The Gimp 2.10 and Neat Image Pro, all on the MacBook.

The Horsehead and Flame nebulae in H-alpha light




Closer view



The Celestron AVX mount performed extremely well in conjunction with the PHD2 autoguiding. The new 16-bit brightness controls enabled the display to be set, non destructively to a pleasing view of the objects being captured without the captured data being affected.

These results demonstrate that macOS is a perfectly good imaging platform using AstroDMx Capture for macOS and all native image processing software.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Maintenance release of AstroDMx Capture Version 0.86.3

Nicola has released a maintenance release (Version 0.86.3) of AstroDMx Capture to fix a couple of issues that have come to light and to improve some of the DSLR control buttons and tool tips.

Mutatis Mutandis


The new startup version checker should alert users to the new version if they already have version 0.86.2 and they start the software within range of their internet connection. Version 0.86.2 should be replaced.

Otherwise, Version 0.86.3 can be downloaded from https://www.astrodmx-capture.org.uk


Sunday, 21 February 2021

New Feature Release of AstroDMx Capture

Feature release of AstroDMx Capture for All platforms

Version 0.86.2

Mutatis Mutandis.




The new version can be downloaded from https://www.astrodmx-capture.org.uk

Nicola has made a feature release of AstroDMx Capture on all platforms: Version 0.86.2

It features an improved, non-destructive, incremental 16-bit brightness control that can be used either on its own in Linear mode, or in association with the other visualisation transforms as well as the transform coefficient. This control is to facilitate the visualisation of 16-bit image data as they are captured, but, being non-destructive, does not affect the data that are saved.

AstroDMx Capture now incorporates automatic version checking on startup to check if you are on the latest version. This can be disabled if required and then you can use the manual check procedure in the Help section.


A user-defined Exposure Delay allows the user to set a time delay between exposures so that the screen will update after the set delay. If the user wishes to keep the exposure, this can be done with the Snapshot button.


AstroDMx Capture for the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi now has support in AstroDMx Capture for 32-bit Raspberry Pi OS for the HQ PiCamera up to resolutions of 1600 x 1200, in 8-bits RGB24.

The PiCamera works with all of the functions such as motion detection, and frame-integration, so increases the utility of the camera within this software.

This is a lower priority part of the AstroDMx Capture project that will be revisited in the future.


INDIGO and INDI

Nicola has started longer term work on INDIGO/INDI support that will increase the application of AstroDMx Capture.

Further progress will, as always, be reported on this blog... Stay tuned!


Thursday, 11 February 2021

Experiments with AstroDMx Capture 16-bit preview controls and combining data from different cameras in post processing

Last month I used AstroDMx Capture for macOS with a 14-bit ZWO ASI178MC CMOS camera and a William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD Apochromatic refractor mounted on a Celestron AVX mount to image the Orion nebula.

Click on an image to get a closer view

The Equipment used


150 x 15s exposures were captured, the best 135 were stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processed in the Gimp, Affinity Photo, Topaz sharpen and Neat image.

The resulting image


Last night AstroDMx Capture for Linux was used with a 6-bit Atik 314L mono CCD camera fitted with a light pollution filter was used to capture FITS files of the Orion nebula using the same William Optics apochromatic refractor and Celestron AVx mount.

60 x 45s exposures and 40 x 15s exposures were captured with matching dark frames.

The preview controls were set to give a pleasing preview of the 16-bit images being captured.

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for Linux capturing FITS data on the Orion Nebula


The FITs files were stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and the resulting image was post processed in the Gimp 2.10

The Orion nebulae


Picture Window Pro 2.5 running in Wine was used to overlay the luminance data from the monochrome image over the Chrominance data of the colour image, blending the images using shift, rotate and scale.

The final image was post processed using Photoshop elements and EasyFoto by softmaker.

The final image of the Orion nebula


The total exposure time for this image was 1.48 hours.



The same telescope and mount with the Atik camera was used to capture 50 x 90s Fits exposures of the Rosette nebula with matching dark frames.

The equipment used


The 16-bit preview controls were adjusted to give a pleasing preview of the images being captured.

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for Linux capturing 90s FITS exposures of the Rosette nebula

The FITS files were stacked in affinity Photo and the result was post processed in the same software.

The Rosette nebula

This image was obtained with a total exposure time of 1.25 hours.