This solar system photo was composited from photos shot from a photographer’s backyard

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Photographer Andrew McCarthy has recently published a breathtaking image of the Solar System. The photo is a composite made from the images he took, but what makes it even more impressive is that all the photos were taken from his own backyard. Andrew shared some details with DIYP and explained how he got all the photos, as well as the final image.

Andrew explains that almost all of these shots were done from his backyard, except the background Milky Way photo, shot from Lundy Lake, CA, and the comet, which was shot from Sly Park, CA. As for the gear, he used a Sony A7II, a Canon 60D, a ZWO ASI224MC astronomy camera, an Orion XT10 telescope, and a Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro equatorial mount.

Acquisition times for each photo were different. However, Andrew notes that processing time is the longest part, taking from a couple hours to a couple days, depending on the target. Below you can read the details for each of the shots that make up the final composite.

Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter

Equipment:

Orion XT10 (using stock alt-az mount)

ZWO ASI224MC

Acquisition:

Captured 8-10k frames each, at .25-.75ms, gain 200 (exposure time varies based on object brightness)

Processing:

Video files cropped and centered around object using PiPP

Video files aligned and stacked using Autostakkert

Sharpening (wavelets adjustments) done in Registax

Final adjustments such as contrast, saturation, color balance, and setting black point done in Photoshop.

Uranus

Equipment:

Orion XT10

Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro

Sony A7ii

Acquisition:

Single 30″ capture, ISO 6400

Processing:

Saturation adjustments in Photoshop

The ISS:

Equipment:

Orion XT10 (using stock alt-az mount)

ZWO ASI224MC

Acquisition:

Captured 25k frames at .32ms, gain 600

pointed the scope at the projected path of the ISS, waited for it to pass, repositioned scope, repeat for entire pass

Processing:

Video file cropped and centered around object using PiPP- rejected frames without the object. File converted from 25k frame video to around 2k individual TIF files.

Handpicked grouping of 25 of best images, aligned and stacked in Autostakkert

Sharpening (wavelets adjustments) done in Registax

Final adjustments such as contrast, saturation, color balance, and setting black point done in Photoshop.

Comet 46p/Wirtanen:

Equipment:

Orion XT10

Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro

Sony A7ii

Acquisition:

60x 30″ captures, ISO 6400

Processing:

Entirely processed in photoshop. Manually aligned around comet. Used median filter to eliminate stars and eliminate noise.

Minor saturation adjustments.

The Moon:

Equipment:

Orion XT10

Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro

ZWO ASI224MC

Acquisition:

Captured 1k frames for each component of a 24-panel mosaic, at .25ms, gain 200

Processing:

Video files aligned and stacked using Autostakkert

Individual tiles aligned using photoshop’s autoalign tool.

Sharpened using unsharp mask, finished with some minor contrast adjustments.

The Sun:

Equipment:

Orion XT10

Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro

Sony A7ii

Orion Safety Solar Filter 10″

Acquisition:

A single 1/200″ capture, ISO 50

Processing:

Minor color balancing, saturation.

The Milky Way background:

Equipment:

Meade 2120 w/piggyback mount

Canon 60D

28-80 Canon lens (set at 28mm)

1 single 120″ exposure, ISO 3200, f-stop: f/9

Processing:

Minor contrast adjustments, curves to bring out nebulosity.

The composition:

When he had all the photos he needed, Andrew arranged all objects over the background using Photoshop. He says that it was done in only about 30 minutes. He admits that he wishes he had spent more time compositing, but I’d say that the final image is impressive nevertheless!

Since “astronomy is quite lonely if you do it alone,” as Andrew says, he prefers shooting with friends. His partner in photography is his cousin Colin Matthewson, who helps Andrew with equipment and shoots the scenery as Andrew shoots the sky. You can find more of Andrew’s work on his Instagram account @cosmic_background.

from DIYPhotography.net -Hacking Photography, One Picture At A Time http://bit.ly/2RxyPQF
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