RIAN BERGEN

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Messier 33: The Triangulum Galaxy - 20200127 Dataset

August 29, 2020

Full Resolution Image

Messier 33, better known as the Triangulum Galaxy, is a spiral galaxy located in the Triangulum Constellation. At an estimated distance of 2.73 million light years, Messier 33 is one of the furthest deep sky objects visible to the naked eye. Even with this great distance, Messier 31 is the second nearest spiral galaxy to us, after Messier 31 (Andromeda Galaxy). It also happens to be the third largest spiral galaxy in the local group, after Messier 31 (Andromeda) and the Milkyway.

Messier 33 goes by the designations of Triangulum Galaxy, M33 (Messier 33), and NGC598 (New General Catalog). It is named after the constellation in which it is located, the Triangulum Constellation. While the future of the Triangulum galaxy is not known for certain, it is believed to be tied to Messier 31 and may take part in the huge collision between Messier 31 and the Milkyway.

My image of the Triangulum isn't the best. It was only 13 minutes and 40 seconds worth of exposure using an 85mm lens. I do plan on taking a much more up-close image sometime this year.

Full Resolution Annotated Image

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Equipment:

  • Nikon D7500
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.8G
  • NyxTech Barn Door Tracker
  • Software:
    • DeepSkyStacker
    • Adobe Photoshop
    • RC Astro GradientXTerminator Plugin for Adobe Photoshop
    • Noel Carboni's Astro Tools Plugin for Photoshop
    • Adobe Lightroom
    • AstroBin for Annotated SVG File (PixInsight)

Data was acquired on the night of 2020-01-27.

  • RGGB
    • 41 Total Exposures
    • 20 Second Individual Exposure Length
    • f/2.8
    • ISO 3200
    • Dark Frames
      • 47 Total
    • Flat Frames
      • 44 Total
    • Bias Frames
      • 40 Total
  • Total Integration Time
    • 13 Minutes and 40 Seconds (820 Total Seconds)
  • Location
    • Backyard: Comer, Georgia
    • 34°03'49"N 83°07'31"W (Closest Town)
    • Bortle Class 4
  • Weather
    • Average Moon Age at 2.41 Days
    • Average Moon Phase at 6.42%
    • Clear Skies

Image was Stacked and Calibrated in DeepSkyStacker. These were the settings:

  • Result
    • Standard Mode
    • No Drizzle
    • No Align RGB Channels
  • Light
    • Kappa-Sigma clipping
    • Kappa: 2.00
    • Number of iterations: 5
  • Dark
    • Median Kapp-Sigma clipping
    • Kappa: 2.00
    • Number of iterations: 5
    • Hot Pixels detection and removal
  • Flat
    • Median Kapp-Sigma clipping
    • Kappa: 2.00
    • Number of iterations: 5
  • Bias
    • Median Kapp-Sigma clipping
    • Kappa: 2.00
    • Number of iterations: 5
  • Alignment
    • Automatic

Image was then opened in Photoshop for the following:

  • Convert to 16 Bit's/Channel using Exposure and Gamma
  • Selected a spot near Messier 33 with the Color Sampler Tool
  • Levels Adjustment to balance Black Point
    • Goal: 45, 45, 45
    • Black Point Adjustments: 12, 4, 0
  • Astro Tool's Deep Space Noise Reduction
    • This data was very noisy. While not noticeable at this stage, it would have been impossible to remove once I began stretching the data.
    • Pros for doing this now: Less Noise to deal with later
    • Cons for doing this now: Slight Loss of Data. Image becomes more "fuzzy".
  • Astro Tool's Space Noise Reduction
    • Same Note as above.
  • Curves
    • Input 57, Output 132
    • Input 113, Output 196
  • Levels Adjustment to balance Black Point
    • Goal: 55, 55, 55
    • Black Point Adjustments: 70, 68, 69
  • Curves
    • Input 88, Output 143
  • Used Lasso Tool to select area around Messier 33. Then inverted the Selection.
  • GradientXTerminate
    • Detail: Medium
    • Aggressiveness: Medium
    • Balance background color: Checked
  • GradientXTerminate
    • Detail: Fine
    • Aggressiveness: High
    • Balance background color: Checked
    • Both GradientXTerminate Operations helped remove a very obvious gradient that had formed from the bottom left corner, all the way up to the top right corner.
  • Levels Adjustment to balance Black Point
    • Goal: 35, 35, 35
    • Black Point Adjustments: 71, 71, 72
    • This was saved as a separate Layer. We will call it Layer 1.
  • Curves
    • Input 77, Output 128
  • Levels Adjustment to balance Black Point
    • Goal: 35, 35, 35
    • Black Point Adjustments: 32, 31, 31
  • Pasted Layer 1 with 100% Opacity.
    • Applied a Layer Mask set to reveal all except for a little bit of masking over Messier 31.
    • This led to Messier 31 being brighter due to an extra curve stretch, but the background being less noisy as it was the background from Layer 1.
  • Cropped to fit in 16:9 Image Ratio
    • This removed some stacking errors as well as helped in better framing the target.
  • Saved

Image was then opened in Lightroom for the following:

  • Created Selective Mask over Messier 33
    • Exposure set to +1.00
    •  Contrast set to +100
    • Saturation set to +100
    • This effect was very subtle, and I really enjoyed it.
  • Saved

Image was then opened in Photoshop again for the following:

  • Curves
    • Input 101, Output 125
  • Astro Tool's Reduce Large Blue/Violet Halos
    • This removes some of the Blue/Violet Halos that had come up with the stretching and the Saturation Boost.
  • Levels Adjustment to balance Black Point
    • Goal: 26, 27, 25
    • Black Point Adjustments: 10, 9, 9
  • Saved and Done!

For those that read this far, THANK YOU! Please let me know how if you have any questions, or if there is something I can improve upon.

P.S. You probably noticed that the processing steps where very similar to my Messier 31: The Andromeda Galaxy - 20200127 Dataset Post. This is due to it being taken with the exact same equipment, on the exact same night, with the exact same settings, for almost the exact same amount of time/exposure.