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First Attempt at Moon Stacking

Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2020 11:03 am
by umasscrew39
Brilliant moon last night so I attempted my first stacking of moon images using SharpCap and AutoStakkert. I tried to follow Dave's excellent tutorial but had a few hiccups along the way. Not surprising as I never tried AutoStakkert nor used my ZWO ASI1600MM or SC for moon .ser video captures. So, lots to learn. This was using my 80mm APO triplet which is piggybacked on my C11" EdgeHD in my observatory. I hope to add color and then try this on the C11 to get good ROIs. This was the best 80% frames stacked. Very different from DSO imaging.

ZWO ASI1600MM was at a gain of 200; brightness 50; 0.02ms exposure; no filter.
Moon_6 April2020.jpg
Moon_6 April2020.jpg (144.46 KiB) Viewed 1307 times

Re: First Attempt at Moon Stacking

Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2020 1:26 pm
by umasscrew39
Tried to sharpen things up using PI and compared to the sharpened image produced by AutoStakkert. The first one is from PixInsight. Frankly, I am having trouble what the best focus should look like but I prefer the PI image as I think the AS one looks too soft to me.
Moon_PI.jpg (165.17 KiB) Viewed 1288 times
AS sharpened.jpg
AS sharpened.jpg (287.58 KiB) Viewed 1297 times

Re: First Attempt at Moon Stacking

Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2020 2:19 pm
by BlackWikkett
Disclaimer i don't really know what i'm doing but have had success with the following method.
1. capture 1000 frames with SharpCap 3-4 ms, 150 gain, 10 brightness auto white bal for red and blue (ASI294) I shoot for decent image this in SC display and check histogram for saturation this is to taste really. Use 16 bit and ser file format (required due to 16 bit)
2. AutoStakkert 3 use best 10% frames here are my settings (this can take quite some time to process based on size of image and your computer speed. Can bring lesser machines to their knees.
AS3 settings.PNG
AS3 settings.PNG (38.11 KiB) Viewed 1295 times
3. Open the AS3 created stacked image ending in _Drizzle15_conv_.png in Registax and apply only wavelet sharpening. Here are the settings that have worked for me.
regi_wavlet_lunar.PNG (19.32 KiB) Viewed 1295 times
4. last step is to take a final pass in Photoshop applying saturation, and possible s curve stretch. It's really up to personal taste here.

Few extra notes. If you're using a larger megapixel camera make sure to crop in SharpCap using ROI. This helps reduce the image size. Registax has a problem opening larger files generated in AS3. You can always open in Photoshop (or other image editor) and reduce the size until you can open in Regitstax.

I've had good luck with this process and hope you can get some use out of it.

Re: First Attempt at Moon Stacking

Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2020 3:02 pm
by umasscrew39
Thanks, Chris. Steps 1 and 2 are essentially what I did except using a ZWO ASI1600MM. Step 3 is what I did using PixInsight but I can try Registax. I am not a big PS user but can try that and see how it looks.

Added some color for personal preference.
Moon_color_PI_80_2.jpg (192.22 KiB) Viewed 1279 times

Re: First Attempt at Moon Stacking

Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2020 6:48 pm
by turfpit

A good start to your lunar imaging. Taking on a full moon brings 3 challenges:
  • Brightness: this is best handled with a filter. I have had good results using an IR685, Wratten #25 red or even the R from an LRGB set.
  • Focusing: The lack of features (or terminator) can make achieving good focus difficult. I set the Zoom to say 150% and try to find a crater at the edge of the disk.
  • Exposure: having the right hand side of the histogram at about 60% gives consistent results. Using the FX tool 'Highlight Over exposed' can help. With the Zoom as above, increase exposure until some surface areas are highlighted. Then back off the exposure until the highlights just disappear. Putting Zoom back to Auto usually leaves the histogram about right.
Using Registax - with this software, I have found that 'less is more'. In the next image, the right hand moon is the output from Registax. Note the pipp in the filename (explained below). By moving the Layer 2 slider to 10 (or whatever looks best) can give decent results. I only ever use Layer 1, 2, 3 and mainly 2 only. Some use all 6 Layers - a matter of personal preference. The only other controls used were Contrast and Brightness. The image in registax is more or less finished.

registax-processing.JPG (126.81 KiB) Viewed 1275 times

The object orientation can be adjusted in Registax via Flip and Rotate and moving the red triangle to suite.

registax-image-rotation.JPG (66.18 KiB) Viewed 1275 times

When capturing a full disk moon with a wider capture area camera, there can be a lot of unnecessary black space surrounding the object. The frames may also drift across the video. This results in large files and Autostakkert having to work hard to produce a good stack. PIPP has a simple facility which will centre and crop all the frames resulting in a cleaned up video for Autostakkert to process. This also has the benefit of reducing file size - a plus when dealing with larger files in Registax (32-bit program).

Selecting Solar/Lunar Full Disc will set up some sensible defaults in subsequent screens.

PIPP-1.JPG (90.81 KiB) Viewed 1275 times

In the Processing Options tab, all the right hand pane highlighted settings came from the selection in PIPP-1.

PIPP-2.JPG (103.26 KiB) Viewed 1275 times

In Output Options tab select SER as the output.

PIPP-3.JPG (65.03 KiB) Viewed 1275 times

In Do Processing click the Start Processing button.

PIPP-4.JPG (66.57 KiB) Viewed 1275 times

The final video output will have all frames cropped and centred. Any frames with a partial object will be discarded (think windy or banged the tripod). The Solar/Lunar Close-up option on screen 1 is useful for stabilising say a crater. These techniques help deal with instances when the moon is bouncing around due to atmospheric turbulence.

As with any type of imaging, obtaining good data is preferable to having to apply extreme processing techniques later on.

The image in the examples is 97% waxing, captured at 20:00 just before sunset and using an R filter from an LRGB set.

Hopefully you have a few ideas to help you on your lunar journey.


Re: First Attempt at Moon Stacking

Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:21 pm
by umasscrew39
Thanks for the tips, Dave.

Re: First Attempt at Moon Stacking

Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2020 8:34 pm
by turfpit
It is a bit rough, I pulled that post together quickly. There should be some ideas to accelerate your learning.


Re: First Attempt at Moon Stacking

Posted: Sun Apr 12, 2020 9:40 am
by nexusjeep
Nice first effort I do not do much lunar stuff really should do more as it is our nearest neighbour, with my ASI1600 for the full moon I have used the narrowband filters to knock down the exposure with good affect and it is still very short exposure times even with these.


Re: First Attempt at Moon Stacking

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:20 am
by umasscrew39
Thanks, Nick. I too have never really done much with the moon or planets. In fact, prior to doing this, the last time I took pictures of the moon was circa 1993 using film on a 35mm Canon camera. I was surprised by the clarify with a single 2ms exposure. I did try a red filter per Dave's suggestion and it helped with stacking for the closer landscape shots. I also have a Daystar Quark to try. I'll try other things as well as time goes on as each provide some interesting learnings but DSOs are still my first joy. Exploring the utility of full frame camera now and will see how that goes.


Re: First Attempt at Moon Stacking

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2020 10:31 am
by nexusjeep
We are looking at getting a Quark at some point as the intention is to take the Skywatcher ED72 scope that I sue as a guide off of the main scope and use this to look at the sun in the summer. What are your experiences like with it.