Saturday, October 20, 2012

M42 with Ekos & PixInsight

A few days ago, I used Ekos to take a 100-seconds exposure for M42, the Orion's Nebula, using Orion EON 120mm scope and QSI 583wsg CCD.

Initially, I processed the image using KStars FITSViewer histogram tool to bring out the contrast, then I used GIMP to crop and fine tune the image using the curves tool. Only the light frame was captured, no Dark, Bias, or Flat frames were taken, and hence no pre-processing was performed. The outcome was the following:

M42 with minimal processing

You can immediately notice that the M42 core is over exposed, as it can get quite tricky to balance long exposures to bring out the nebula details without saturating the core. Therefore, I decided to process the image under PixInsight, a multi-platform advanced image processing tool tailored for astrophotography. Using Dynamic Background Extraction (DBE), HDR transforms, and ACDNR noise reduction tool, the results were quite impressive:

M42 after PixInsight processing
With Ekos & PixInsight, I finally have everything I need for astrophotography under Linux!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

First image with Ekos!

For the past few weeks, Ekos, KStars Astrophotography tool, went thought a lot of updates and testing. Today I was able to use Ekos to take my first astrophotography image of M33, the Triangulum Galaxy using QSI 583wsg CCD.

M33 - 5 minutes exposure

During the course of the night, and after setting up my Orion EON 120mm refractor, Loadstar autoguider, and Robofocus at the roof of my house, I began with using Ekos Autofocus tool to get the CCD focused, then used the autoguiding tool to keep the M 33 field of view centered during the 5 minute exposure run. This is a raw image with no filters and no dark or flat frames taken to perform post-processing and calibration. It was processed by GIMP by adjusting levels to bring out the contrast. Unfortunately, GIMP does not handle 16bit depth images as of now, which limits its capability in processing astrophotography images.

It is very exciting to finally use 100% based Linux software to perform astrophotography tasks. Ekos is still under heavy development, and is slated for release in the next KDE 4.10 release.