Heart and Soul Nebula - IC 1805 IC 1848

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


Heart and Soul Nebula - IC 1805 IC 1848 - Thought it was time to dig in with some of my DSO data I have collected. It took a while to process everything since I had some issues with my flat frames. This image was taken over 4 nights in October 2022. Despite the challenges I had with the data I’m happy with how it came out. Active Frame Totals: 195 Light Frames at 300 seconds (16.17 hours), 200 Flats, 185 Darks, 350 Bias.

Technical Details

Canon 6D Full Spectrum Modified
Radian Raptor 61
Ioptron Sky Guider pro

Active Frame Totals:
195 Light Frames at 300 seconds (16.17 hours)
200 Flats
185 Darks
350 Bias

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Very impressive, both aesthetically and technically! Colors are nice, contrast not overdone, stars are lovely and soft – and round!! (I assume the second two are crops after processing, not separate runs?) That’s nice resolution. All that integration time has paid off for quenching noise and allowing the data to be stretched.

I’m impressed the Ioptron can handle the weight. Did you have to solve problems with tracking? 5 minute exposures are a challenge for any setup. How are you guiding?

I moderate here but that doesn’t mean I’m an expert – I’m on the learning curve from nature photography like so many other people, so I’ll be doing more learning than teaching! Getting into DSO astro has been a fits and starts thing for me for about 7 years. So I’ll start a dialog if you’re willing.

I looked back at your earlier posts, which I had missed, and see you use PI – I’m also on the first or second rung of that ladder. (It’s a tall ladder.)

The next question is about Darks – I gave up on DSLRs and recently got the ASI2600MC, which is amazing. I have a SkyWatcher EQM 35 and an Askar FRA400. (And the ASIAIR, which is fantastic!) I’ve read so much about issues with Canon Darks and assumed they were at least partly responsible for my previous poor results – but you seem to be making them work. Is there a secret??

I’ve only recently had an opportunity to try the Milky Way again, but only with regular cameras/lenses and no tracking. (I’ll be posting those here, maybe starting today.) I’m now hoping for some dark skies in a location where I can haul the tracker. I had a small portable Astrotrac several years ago and it gave better results than no tracking. I can do better now – if I can get a good sky.

Hi Diane thank you for the kind words! Im glad you like it. Yes I just cropped in on the same image since the detail would be lost on several different platforms. I figure some would want to see deeper.

I am maxed out with the sky guider pro! Luckily the scope is small. I use and extension bar for better balance and the asiair pro. I’m guiding with the asiair, asi mini 120 camera. It took me a while to get aligned but once guiding I could get out to 5 mins. Never tried longer.

Well it seems you are off to a great start. You have good equipment. I do use PI it is incredibly hard to learn. I’m sure you heard of him but I bought Adam Blocks Fundamentals course. It is super thorough and helps me get through most issues or question I would have. Otherwise there’s the PI forums or cloudy nights. All great stuff.

I don’t t have problems with my darks that I’m aware of. I’m using an astro modified canon 6d full spectrum cooled. When I’m shooting I’m shooting during winter in Maine so it’s nice and cold and dark bortal 4. The issue I’m having are my flats. I was told to experiment with different things. I was using my computer screen and filled a white background in photoshop and covered the scope with a white tshirt. My flats are coming out like rainbows. So it’s either I’m shooting the flats too fast, the filter is picking up the color pixels on my screen, or the L-enhance filter is causing it, or a combo of everything. Im just going to get a flat panel and shoot a 5 second flat. I was told to shoot a longer flat.

I love the camera you have! I’m probably going to get one myself at some point. Have to save my clams. I have been looking around at cameras but I’m in process of building a serious rig. I learned it’s smart to pair your camera with scope which will give you better results avoiding bloated or blocky stars. So I have the software bisque MyT mount and looking to get a Celestron edge HD 8” or 11” . Depending on how I configure the scope will determine my camera. Most likely the ZWO 2600MM.

I’m still learning but if there’s anything I could share or help with don’t hesitate to ask me.

Thanks Brett! From what I’ve read, 5 min guiding is awesome. I have a guidescope (ZWO 30mm with the ASI290) for the Askar setup but have yet to to figure out how to run the ASIAIR software. (I just got this equipment last October.) DSO stuff seems doable, thanks to software improvements, Cloudy Nights and Adam Block! A lot has changed in the last couple of years to make things easier.

I’ve not had any problems with Flats. I do the white cloth thing (several layers, tightly stretched) at twilight while setting up. I program them in the ASIAIR and use autoexposure. I’d have to fire up the RAID to check the SSs but they are not super long or short. I’m not using any filters. Doing them first means the focus isn’t exact, but it’s always been very close from the previous session.

The other side of the coin is the Milky Way – I need wider angles for it and am trying the Canon R5 and regular lenses, but would like to try tracking for lowering noise (thus the interest in making Darks work with a Canon body). I’ll pursue that in other posts and leave this one for DSOs.

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Amazing how you captured and processed this - stretching is no easy task and oyu have handled this very well

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Outstanding work Brett. I also use the Ioptron Sky Guider Pro, but have not bought a guide camera or ASIAIR yet. I have found that if you carefully polar align you can get good tracking, really good. I have been using the Sky Guider primarily to track with my 4x5 camera for 3 hour exposures. I am impressed with how well it tracks. I will have some 4x5’s posted soon, hopefully.

But these photos are fantastic and really encourage me to keep going after DSO photos.

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I think there is something like a two-edged sword here. My mount (a “medium-end” SkyWatcher EQM 35 pro, an equatorial mount) will track beautifully all night with careful polar alignment, even with my 400mm equivalent refractor. So I could expose for hours. But with the increasingly long focal lengths for DSOs (very roughly 300mm and up in daylight photography terms) instead of the 14-50mm for the Milky Way and a few large objects like the galactic center), imperfect gear meshing causes slight blur in exposures over maybe 30-45 seconds. That requires guiding. But the super wide-angle images won’t show those tiny variations. So careful PA is needed to keep the subject from drifting (and it will drift less with wider angles), but guiding is needed for long focal lengths.

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Thank you very much glad you like the image. I would certainly recommend to start with an ASIAIR Pro, they are basic and user friendly. If you want long exposures guiding is the way to go. Like Diane said below the longer the focal length the more accurate your polar alignment has to be and the need to guide. If you find that your image is drifting typically that means your mount is not balanced or level and/or your polar alignment is off.

Polar alignment with the ASIAIR is very easy and very accurate. It doesn’t use the guide camera, just the main one. It will connect with some DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Some Canons and Nikons are on the list and support may extend to others.

Good point about balance and level. I don’t know how the smaller trackers work but with mine it is important to keep the balance a little east-heavy and to take out gear backlash with a final tiny movement up and east.

The thing that is optional is star alignment after polar alignment – that only matters if you need an accurate goto. But that is super easy with the ASIAIR.