RIAN BERGEN

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Messier 45: The Pleiades - 20200127 Dataset

August 29, 2020

Full Resolution Image

The Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters and Messier 45, are an open star cluster primarily containing middle aged, hot B-Type stars. At a distance of 444 light years, it is among the nearest open star clusters to earth. It also happens to be the nearest Messier object to earth and is the most visible (to the naked eye) star cluster in the night sky. It is so visible, that explorers, and sailors have been using it for navigation for thousands of years.

Around the Pleiades is a reflection nebula, caused by dust reflecting the blue light of the hot, young stars. This is visible with most amateur telescopes, especially when long exposures are taken. It can also be seen under ideal observing conditions with small telescopes, or the average binoculars. Note: While the blue hint in my image does contain some of the nebulosity, the majority of it comes from the bright blue glare that these stars produce.

A better image of this is also among my many short-term goals.

Full Resolution Annotated Image

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I am currently facing some seriously unfortunate weather, so, I have decided to reprocess ALL (only exception is for what I consider completely unusable data) of my old data. The goal of this is to see how much I have improved, actually finish some old projects, and continue practicing my processing techniques. All of my equipment, used software, and processing techniques will be listed below. This image in particular is my seventh attempt ever at Astrophotography and took place on the same night as my fourth, fifth, and sixth attempt. Together, those attempts can be considered my first successful night of imaging.

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
    • 24 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
    • 8 Minutes (480 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 45 with the Color Sampler Tool
  • Levels Adjustment to balance Black Point
    • Goal: 35, 35, 35
    • Black Point Adjustments: 15, 9, 4
  • Curves
    • Input 37, Output 164
    • Input 68, Output 207
  • Levels Adjustment to balance Black Point
    • Goal: 100, 100, 100
    • Black Point Adjustments: 98, 96, 98
  • Used Lasso Tool to select area around Messier 45. 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: 45, 45, 45
    • Black Point Adjustments: 65, 64, 64
  • Astro Tool's Deep Space Noise Reduction
  • Astro Tool's Space Noise Reduction
  • Astro Tool's Reduce Small Blue/Violet Halos
    • This removes some of the Blue/Violet Halos that had come up with the stretching.
  • Levels Adjustment to balance Black Point
    • Goal: 35, 35, 37
    • Black Point Adjustments: 11, 11, 8
  • 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 45
    • Vibrance: +100
  • Saved

Image was then opened in Photoshop again for the following:

  • Levels Adjustment to balance Black Point
    • Goal: 25, 25, 25
    • Black Point Adjustments: 0, 1, 2
  • Astro Tool's Space Noise Reduction
  • GradientXTerminate
    • Detail: Medium
    • Aggressiveness: Medium
    • Balance background color: Checked
  • 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.