April 1, 2012
Every Night I'm Stackin'
On the last night of my recent barn door testing, knowing the limitations of the barn door as it stood I knew I had a pretty good tracker. As long as I stuck to short exposures, the stars weren't going to move a whole lot - time for some stacking! Large Magellanic was catching my eye that week, a long exposure on an earlier test having shown some potential. So I set the camera to 800 ISO, 3.2" continuous shooting, and locked the remote shutter down. I shot several sequences, the best one in terms of focus being 15 frames, including a dark frame.
Cruising the intertubes for tips on stacking, DeepSkyStacker kept coming up, so I downloaded it. After downloading the current beta to get around a bug in the release version with large RAW files, we were away. It understands dark frames, and a few other things that I need to dig into, but it was by-and-large easy to use.
The Magellanic stack came up pretty good. Kinda noisy, and at some point the "cloud" went yellow, but some great details in there. I think I could get more out of the stack, especially with noise reduction and light pollution reduction, but it's been a good learning exercise. Longer exposures are apparently better, even for stacking, so I can crank that up some when the barn door is purring. Once the stars come out again, I'll be grabbing ValHallen and heading out of town to find some dark skies.