It’s been a while since I last posted. The weather here has just been terrible and to be honest I have given up on trying to do Astronomy here in Cornwall.  Since my last post I have given variable star observing a go using the remote telescope network in the US. Yes, it’s expensive at about one US dollar a minute, but if added up what I have spent on my observatory over the years, that is an awful lot of observing time you could do before you get anywhere near what I have spent.

Anyway, that’s a semi ongoing project and I might start sticking up some of the results of that over the winter.
What is more encouraging is that New Mexico gets a lot better weather than we do here in the UK. I managed to get about 40 minutes of data of the Cocoon nebula using a 250mm Epsilon Tak mated with an SBIG ST10XME camera. The quality of the lights was just quite frankly amazing. 20% humidity and no light pollution really does make a difference to your images. I will stick these up later.

Having been encouraged by this, I decided that I would blow some dosh on a copy Pixinsight 1.08. In the 10 years since I last processed an image, software technology has improved immeasurably. Photoshop is now no longer the primary processing software of choice for the Astroimager. I’ve been digging around my imaging archives for something to practice of and came across  26 x 10 min lights of M106 that I did way back in 2007. At the time I rejected these because of poor transparency producing really bloated stars and a bit of a pesky gradient, which refused to go despite multiple attempts to remove it.

This is the raw and dark calibrated stack of 23 of these. In those days I didn’t shoot flat frames, which was a mistake, as the dust bunnies in these images are really bad.

However watching loads of Pixinsight Youtube tutorials got me to this. The larger stars are really bloated, but I’m not unhappy with the others. I was really impressed with how the gradient removal processes has dealt with the background. Removing star bloat is still problematical, but reading what others are saying, that this its still  a tricky process to do well, so I’m sure it will become easier with practice.
Yes,  Pixinsight is pricey especially if you already own Photoshop and the learning curve is very steep as it doesn’t work like any piece of software that you have ever used before. But with practice and doing processes in the right order , is not overly difficult to get your mind around it. I’ve been working on more imaging rejects that I took in the mid Noughties and will stick them up as I go. I’m looking forward to blowing some dosh on iTelescope and getting some really decent data to play with, once I feel confidant that I will be able to do the data justice in the processing department.
As they say – Watch this space