M51 Pinwheel Part 2

After seeing what 10 minutes of exposure could do I was really excited to get more. Tonight I decided to go for as long as I could get away with.

The top of my goals list were:

  • Better alignment
  • More Time
  • Darks/Flats

I was able to get 40 minutes of exposure this time, because it took a bit longer than I had anticipated to do the alignment. I keep learning quirks and tricks. I think I will invest in some sort of cover for the mount so that I can leave it in place over the weekends if possible.

Anyway, after 40 minutes of exposure I came in and started stacking. This is when I learned the real difficult part of this hobby. Post Processing! It’s really hard for multiple reasons. One being that there is a lot software and options. PixInsight, Photoshop, Gradient Removal, Noise reduction, Histogram stretching. It’s pretty overwhelming to know what to start with. The second reason is that it’s very subjective! Every time I go back and tweak a photo I can’t decide which one is better! So I ended up with 10-15 different versions!

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My first quick attempt at a processing
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Same photo but uncropped

At this point I realized that I definitely need flats. So I started playing around with taking some flats.

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Now we’re talking. Flats + New Processing Techniques

And then after learning about flats I downloaded a demo of Pixinsight and started stumbling around that software. This is what I ended up with

m51_allflats_ABE2
Cropped and Edited with Pixinsight

I definitely came a long way, but it’s still hard to judge the subjective nature of editing. Should they be brighter and show nebulosity at the expense of a washed out background? What’s the best cropping? I dunno, but it’s fun seeing progress!