M31 - my first attempt with Sharpcap and QHY163M - I'm a fan!

A place to share images that you have taken with SharpCap.
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ramdom
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:03 am

M31 - my first attempt with Sharpcap and QHY163M - I'm a fan!

Post by ramdom » Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:16 am

Hi all, today I finally decided to leave aside my UC18 and get back to my plans for the wide field imaging with the SV70T @ f/4.8.

I downloaded QHY's EZCAP software to my Mac and to my small Windows notebook. I also downloaded Sharpcap to this notebook, along with the drivers for the QHY. The Mac version didn't work. But Sharpcap did. I was just happy I could see light when I waved my flashlight in front of the camera, but as I focussed out, I could see the stars getting sharper, and I was surprised to see that it looked pretty good visually.

I didn't really expect anything to work, so I wasn't prepared and even though I have a Bahtinov mask, didn't have time to focus, do darks, etc. or do anything really. However, Sharpcap was intuitive to use and after playing around with a few settings, I decided to start taking some snaps. Even though I could easily get two minute subs, I realised I didn't have time to fiddle around with the gain, etc. so I decided to go with live stacking 15s exposures. I was able to stack 9 of them to get a total of 195s and this is the image I got! You can also see M110 and M32 in the background.

I'm definitely subscribing to a Sharpcap license! And so far, the QHY camera seems to be working out really well. I had to reduce the size of the image to upload it to FB (it's set to public):

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid ... 4719205000

Any tips/suggestions for someone starting out would be greatly appreciated beyond what's in the docs (which I've read most of) and other online help. I'd like to extend my imaging sessions to be longer and more automated (I can program). Thanks!

--Ram

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admin
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Re: M31 - my first attempt with Sharpcap and QHY163M - I'm a fan!

Post by admin » Wed Jul 05, 2017 6:01 pm

Hi Ram,

looks excellent for a first go. Did you use the gamma slider in the live stacking to enhance the faint details?

cheers,

Robin

ramdom
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:03 am

Re: M31 - my first attempt with Sharpcap and QHY163M - I'm a fan!

Post by ramdom » Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:38 pm

No, I saw the tip for that later (I also read the documentation and joined this forum after the first use). I believe my Image Controls tab was minimised so I didn't see those controls at that time. I focussed mostly on gain and exposure. What I saw was that as I increased the exposure of a single sub to 2 minutes, the image was very overexposed, and didn't have time to fiddle with the gain, so I decided to go with the live stacking of the smaller length exposures which was more subtle. Even the focussing was done by eye.

Hopefully tonight I'll get to try it again on different types of targets, with cooling and a proper polar alignment and proper focussing. I'm still wondering what else I need to acquire to obtain proper images of the larger objects I want to capture with this combo of scope and camera (filters, filter wheels, etc.). M31 is nicely framed in this image, as it appears the Heart and Soul Nebulae would be. I could probably get both M81 and M81 in a single image with this. And then there's always the ROI framing that could be done but I prefer to just switch scopes and utilise the full sensor. It may even be possible to hook up this combo of camera and software to my UC18 and do the live stacking of 15 second exposures once I get the ServoCAT GoTo on that working.

--Ram

ramdom
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:03 am

Re: M31 - my first attempt with Sharpcap and QHY163M - I'm a fan!

Post by ramdom » Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:35 am

Here are a couple more images of m31, this time with a 30 minute total exposure, and taken with Sharpcap but processed the final stacked image with Nebulosity. There's something about 15 second subs I'm psychologically fixated on---anything longer and my patience is tested especially since I have to fiddle with the gain/exposure to get it right. No darks but cooling was on.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid ... feb18c9eae
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid ... ba64ce04ed

I would appreciate your opinion on which of these two processing approaches you think looks better.

I believe the halos around the stars are due to the lack of a IR filter on the camera (i.e., it needs to be done using LRGB filters). I was thinking I could just get a bunch of 2" mounted filters and then deal with the filter wheel later (just manually screw the filter wheel on for L, and I want to mostly do narrowband anyway). I tried to do an image of the heart nebula but I'm not sure what I got - the moon was out and I couldn't really enhance the image.

--Ram

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Re: M31 - my first attempt with Sharpcap and QHY163M - I'm a fan!

Post by admin » Thu Jul 06, 2017 5:36 pm

Hi Ram,

my take is that the first is a much better treatment of the galaxy (very good for 30min exposure time), but the stars are over bright and a bit of a distraction - not sure if that's something from the live stack or from the post-processing, but it might be worth seeing if you can find a way to bring up the galaxy without pushing the stars quite so far.

cheers,

Robin

ramdom
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Re: M31 - my first attempt with Sharpcap and QHY163M - I'm a fan!

Post by ramdom » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:29 am

Here's my most recent attempt for M31, this time with a 90 minute total integration (still 15s subs, I'm too impatient to fiddle around with the settings to see what works with longer exposures and it's unclear whether a longer exposure would help with this target). A lot of things went right: I was able to take and subtract darks; I had the camera cooling on; and I installed a 2" Baader UV IR-Cut filter to reduce the halos (which didn't work as well as I thought it would, but it is better than before).

http://ram.org/images/space/scope/4/5/n ... 00s.v6.jpg

Total integration: 90 minutes (15s x 360 subs).
Camera: QHY163M (16mp mono) CMOS cooled to 0 degrees C.
Telescope: Stellarvue 70mm apo triplet @ f/4.8.
Filter(s): Baader UV-IR Cut (L).
Software: Sharpcap (Gain 20; Gamma 1.5 (I think)), Nebulosity.

Compared to the last image, where a lot of the little white dots were just hot pixels, this one looks "cleaner." I'm fairly happy with it except for the satellite trails. If anyone knows of a good way to get rid of the satellite trails while live stacking, I'd love to know. Next step is likely nebulae in narrowband, and I may even try that to highlight some of the star forming regions on this target.

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