Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New approach to processing moon photos.

I took a series of 20 shots of the moon with my DSLR the other night.  Normally I choose the best 'one' and process it.  I have known for a long time that picking the top of the set, say X% and stacking them in Registax or AS2 would give much better results.  I've always struggled to do so.  I'm not sure if it's because I used the Canon raw (CR2) file format or because DSLR have massive resolution, but stacking has never worked well for me.  This time in particular I really struggled to get the photos to line up as I kept moving and recentering.  I took a cue from fellow CN'er zAmbonii (  and added a few of my own twists.

  1. Open photos in Adobe Bridge all at once and crop all, painfully and individually.
  2. Save as tiff with no compression
  3. Use Adobe Bridge to open all tiff files as layers in single image
    1. Select all cropped photos
    2. In Bridge select the menu "Tools -> Photoshop -> Load Files into PS Layers"
  4. Auto align using
    1. Select all layers
    2. Edit / Auto-Align Layers / Auto
  5. Then after some waiting most all the layers are 'really close' to being 'stacked'  At this point you can either
    1. Set all layers but the bottom to 50% opacity and call it day.
    2. Export as tiff using
      1. File / Scripts / Export layers to file
  6. Once exported as uncompressed tiff you can open them in Registax and have a MUCH easier time stacking as you normally would!
  7. After saving a stack of 14 and another of the full 20...
  8. I sharpened in AstraImage
  9. Opened in PhotoShop again for
    1. Denoise with Topaz
    2. High Pass Filter with contrast
    3. Saturation
Thanks and enjoy some new tricks!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Bright spots on Neptune

Back in mid July of 2015 it was brought to the attention of several amateur astronomers like myself that there are bright spots on the cloud surface of Neptune.  A request was made by professionals to help observe these spots in red or narrowband IR.  I have had a string of poor weather and didn't have a chance until mid September.  On September 20th, I had some moderate conditions to try.  My method was to shoot wide field with the CCD as seen here.  I've superimposed an high-res RGB image on top to help identify Neptune.  The brightest and closest 'star' to Neptune is about the 7 o'clock position (lower left) and is actually the largest moon, Triton.

If you read the stats, Neptune was 241.3 light minutes away at the time of this photograph.  That's just over 4 light hours away.  For fun here's a size comparison via the wikipedia page.

At that distance Neptune is only 2.4 arc minutes in size and the top image that I took is fairly close to what you might see in a moderate telescope at medium magnification.

After some wide-field CCD shots, I put in my high-res planetary camera and took some LRGB as well as Infra-Red (742nm) shots.  Here's the aesthetically pleasing composite consisting of all 5 filters that also includes a Triton.

Finally for the detail oriented here's the full layout, including the sub channels used in derotation.

Also here's the alignment reference from the Neptune Ephemeris Generator (

Thanks for reading and please do some well wishes for more clear skies for me, they've been far and few between.

If anyone is interested all source tiffs, sharpened files and WinJupos measurements are on my public Google Drive share located here  and contained in a 30+MB .zip file - >

Blog Archive