My First Astrophoto

M42, LRGB 6,3,3,3, Taken 11/16/2009

I just finished processing my first astrophoto.  It is of M42, the Orion Nebula.  Actually this is about the 8th or 9th version.  I think this is the one I’ll keep.  I think it is not too bad considering it is my first attempt at image processing and it is a composite of only 15 frames.

It is an LRGB image at 6,3,3,3.  That means that there are four layers that make up the image.  Luminance, red, green and blue layers.  The numbers indicate the minutes of exposure for each layer.  I did 6 minutes of clear (no filter) that consisted of a combination of 6 frames of 1 minute exposures, and each color layer is 3 frames of 1 minute each.

I stacked the frames of each layer separately with DeepSkyStacker.  I then used PixInsight LE to combine the color layers into an RGB image.  Then I did some histogram stretches and saved the image as a tiff file.  The luminance layer was also stretched in PixInsight LE.  Then I loaded the RGB into Paintshop Pro X2 and did some more fiddeling.  Once I had the colors that I wanted I loaded the luminance layer as a transparent layer over the color image and did a bit more processing before saving the final result.

This is what the stacked red layer looks like before processing.

M42, Red frame, 3 one minute exposures

The images were taken with the LB0003 telescope at LightBuckets, an internet telescope rental site.  This is a 12 inch Ritchey-Chretien reflecting telescope.  I hope to rent some more time soon to either add more frames of this subject or possibly something new.  I think it is a great concept.

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