Galactic Center + RP

And I just did a more dramatic processing that I think is still realistic. Thanks to Youssef for the idea!:

Here’s a less-than-perfect image I made several years ago. This is a composition I suggested in this thread: At The Heart

This is a tracked single exposure.

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All comments welcome!

Technical Details

Canon 1DX2, 50mm, f/2.8, ISO 800, single 2 min exposure, tracked. (Corrected from misinformation in the OP of an hour or so ago, if anyone saw it in that inyerval.)


The bright object above Antares is Saturn.

Pretty cool as always. I like the repost.

This is really cool Diane. I like the repost a lot. The contrast and colors in the core are beautiful. I don’t know the skies well at all. Seeing Antares so clearly is really great. I’ll look for it in my images. This makes me want to try some MW images using longer focal lengths than my good ole 20mm f/1.8.

You said “less than perfect”. What would you do to improve this? It looks perfect to me!

With this tracked shot did you have to do any noise reduction? I’m guessing not, but just curious.

I’m debating getting a star tracker. It seems tracked shots have more detail and color than stacked shots. Not sure about the noise factor in trackers

Thanks @Kris_Smith and @Mark_Muller! Mark, tracking allows a longer exposure, and a smaller aperture in cases where that can help with lens corner aberrations, which are often bad with pinpoint stars. But a longer exposure will give more noise. Stacking a number of exposures will allow special NR with astro software, along with so-called flat, bias and black frames. (Light frames are shots of the actual object.) Sophisticated tracking, with precise polar alignment, is needed to do stacks that span several hours. Tracking and stacking with special software lets you pull out detail (and thus color) in dark areas due to the lack of noise.

Today’s normal NR software such as Topaz is quite good for single-frame “wide angle” shots like this or even wider for the Milky Way. For the second shot here, I went back to the BG layer and started over with Topaz DeNoise then did some contrast and saturation work. It was a little cleaner than the older NR on the first post. Newer sensors are also better at allowing details to be pulled out of dark areas.

Repost is very nice, Diane. Well done.

Diane, Wonderful astro-Milky Way image!

I’d say pretty darn perfect, including the repost. Great job!

I’m getting more and more interested and can see and understand the difference between simply reducing noise, like with Topaz (which I think is great) and doing something a little more sophisticated with tracking. The results are pretty clear!

Excellent, love this and it’s a motivator! :slight_smile:

The second version definitely looks better since there is no reference to how bright the sky ‘should’ be without any kind of land beneath it. This way you can appreciate the subject matter more as well. Admittedly I’m not a big fan of astro photography but I actually like this!

Love the detail you captured here Diane. Do you have any suggestions on an introduction to tracking?

@John_Williams, my first suggestion is that it’s a bottomless pit! But for wide field stuff like 35-50 mm (or even up to maybe 500mm with today’s lighter lenses) it is doable for a reasonable price, compared to cameras and lenses. There are a range of trackers and some are more capable than others. A major factor is how well they will manage the weight of a camera and lens. Another important thing is how easily and accurately they can be polar aligned. That becomes more important as the focal length and exposure time increase. They can be set to track either stars, the sun or the moon.

I started with an Astrotrack, which was only barely adequate (as was the company), then got an Orion Sirius – much better but too heavy to be easily portable. I haven’t kept up with the smaller trackers but several people here probably have .

If you start a discussion you could probably get some very good information. There is also a lot on the web.

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This is well-executed and processed, so well done there!

For me any photo of the Core really needs something to anchor it and to provide visual interest, otherwise its just another photo of the Core… but admittedly I’ve photographed and looked at billions of milky way photos over the years so it takes a lot to get me excited about one anymore.

Now that you’ve dipped your toes into this, I’m curious what will be next for you to make an even more compelling night sky image using these techniques… :slight_smile:

Thanks, @Matt_Payne! Good things to think about. In a perfect world, I’d be looking to do longer tracking in a location with very clear and dark skies and a time in spring or early summer when the core was rising above an interesting horizon. That can be quite a quest, even with all the information now on things like The Photographer’s Ephemeris or Photo Pills, and the sky forecasts on Clear Dark Sky. But having lost my tracker in one of the northern CA wildfires in 2017, and being very busy in the meantime, this sot of subject has taken a back seat. And clear dark skies are getting harder to find. There are some good possibilities in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains, where you can get up to 11,000 ft, but the air can be surprisingly polluted even up there, with all the wildfires we have now. I did my first Milky Way shots up there years ago and have been back several times since, and I’m overdue to re-visit. Bodie Road can be pretty good, at about 9,000 ft, but is lacking in FGs, but every time I’ve headed up there I’ve found smoky skies. The last trip, several years ago, I thought I had it made with the forecast, and about halfway up a fire broke out.

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Stunning image Diane. The delicate treatment of the nebula with the fine grit of stars make this such a rich image. I love those dark dust line leading to Antares. I am new to photographing the stars and nebulas and excited to continue trying to reach this level of competence. Your work is an inspiration.