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So I am trying out Maxim DL and it is a amazing tool. Very complex, very complete, but very good. So this night I decided to use Maxim DL for all my acquisition needs. But already started bad. The live view feature dont have a decent bull’s eye feature, and i could not use it to focus and to align the telescope. Still had to use BackyardEOS for that. I was a bit disappointed.

But the disappointment vanished when I made the autoguiding work. The very small less than half-pixel errors and readjustments, I think i never had such a good guiding with PHDGuiding. It didnt work out of the box, I had to read the manual and tweak the parameters, but when it worked, I was amazed. I could never do more than 90 to 120 seconds exposure, because my alignment and guiding was never good enough. That changed with Maxim DL, and I was able to make a 300 seconds exposure. But to be honest, with this level of tracking error of less than half pixel, I am excited to try much longer: 10, 20, 30 minutes exposure in the future.

I spend quite a lot of timing configuring and understanding Maxim DL, so I end up not taking many pictures. And until I got the guiding right, there was lots of lost shots.

20150406_M101_2000iso_6x120s_7x300s_CLS-CCDPinwheel Galaxy (M101)
Celestron AVX 8″ SCT
Filter: Astronomik CLS-CCD
Focal Length: 1278 mm
Aperture: f/6.3
ISO: 2000
Shutter: 120s / 300s
Stacking: 6 / 7
Total exposure: 47 min
Aquisition: Maxim DL
Post processing: PixInsight
Taken Apr 6, 2015 around 23:30 CEST

20150406_M101_2000iso_6x120s_7x300s_CLS-CCD_annotated

So about 79% of my frames I had to reject, so there was just 13 usable frames. Not enough for a good stacking. But I used it anyway to generate a noisy picture. This is a work in progress. I will get more frames on that. maybe 20/20/20 of 120/300/600 seconds. But need to wait for the weather.

I really like the annotation feature. But i also like the clean picture. So I will be putting both in the blog for a while.

Anyway, this was another very hard image to edit. Since there is too few frames, and not enough noise-to-signal ratio, I had to make some very aggressive editing to bring up some details in the galaxy. This made the image look fake.

So i edited it once, twice, tree times until I found a balance between showing details and not be too much aggressive. I still dont like Maxim DL to post process the pictures. So I believe i will be keeping Pixinsight for that task. But calibration and staking works quite wonders on Maxim DL.

For that processing I used a mix of several tutorials. The begin to use HDR imaging I used the same tutorial as in the Orion Nebula post. After that I found this picture already edited with a workflow, with very interesting ideas. And lastly this page with a tutorial and a couple of Pixinsight addons to download, which works wonders. I specially liked the remove hot and dark pixels using PixelMath.

One of the big secrets is the LocalHistogramEqualization on the galaxy. It brings a lot of details from very faint regions. Using with a mask only on the galaxy to not bring up extra noise from the background.

Vote in me for astrophotography award:

STAR OF EUROPE ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS 2015

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