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Horsehead nebula help


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Good evening, i had my first go at shooting the horsehead nebula last week and its not come out very clear, its REALLY dim, ive tried to sharpen it up with Affinity, but to not much result. 


I only managed about an hour on the nebula and i am limited to 2-4 minute subs on cold night due to a non-cooled (ZWO ASI 585MC) camera, i find more than 3-4 minutes and i get lots of noise.


How long do i need on this target to get something workable, i have seen folks on here with very professional looking images, well above my ability that have 20+hrs in.


Do i need any filters, as standard i'm using a light pollution filter to kill my local street LED lights, is it worth removing this?


Thanks in advance.



Edited by Kevin17
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Hi Kevin, I find that shooting the horsehead you need about 10 hours with something like your aperture. Also try 30 second to 1 minute subs as it is a really bright object. It sounds counter intuitive but longer subs will blow out the stars in the belt. You can stretch CMOS subs quite a way bringing out the finer stuff quite well. I found Alnitac has a smaller companion star right next to it when I did 30 second subs earlier last year. Longer subs hide this behind a big blown out blob.

I was shooting in mono narrowband and from memory got around 20 hours of 30 second subs on it. OSC cameras may need a similar amount of time.

The only issue with shooting more subs is it takes ages to integrate them in your stacking software. I use PixInsight but also have AstroPixelProcessor. Essentially the faster the computer and/or graphics card will dictate how long it takes to process.

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I have a laptop running a 12th Gen Intel i7 2.30 GHz processor with 16GB RAM and a Gforce 3050 graphics card with its own 8GB RAM. I have Affinity photo for stacking/processing, i dont know if thats any good for this hobby as it was the laptop i had before i started but it seems to handle most things i ask of it.

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Try different stacking software. The free DeepSkyStacker is ok. Not the best but adequate for starting with. It should work well enough out of the box. Satellite trails can be removed with one of the settings I seem to recall.

The computer is a decent enough spec.

Affinity photo is great software and in version 2 guise becoming a competitor for Photoshop. Use it after stacking.

As mentioned I use PixInsight which has a steep learning curve but has been designed by astrophotographers for astrophotographers. I saw a promotional video for JWST recently and noticed the people over at Nasa/ESA were running it during post processing.

I also sometimes use AstroPixelProcessor which also has a rich userbase.

Lots of options to produce fine pictures.


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