MAS Observatory: Takahashi 106 FSQ Astrophotography

Updated January 1 2005
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The images which follow were taken with a Takahashi 106 FSQ coupled to an SBIG STL-11,000.  This results in an incredible FOV of 156 by 233 arc-minutes with an image scale of 3.5 arc-seconds/pixel (perfect for our New England skies).  Many of these images were taken before the RCOS-16 was fully functional and most were taken by stacking 10 minute unguided exposures (depending on the amazing accuracy of the Paramount ME with T-point modeling and PE correction).  These images were the first I have taken using Paramount ME mount, and represented a significant change from my previous work with a SCT.  The goal was, and continues to be, to produce higher quality images.  "Higher quality" is a relative term, but it is hoped that there will be, over time, an evolving improvement in the overall quality of the images, especially with regards to signal to noise ratios and overall processing techniques.  New details of image acquisition and processing will be discussed when the changes are relevant to the image.  Many thanks to John Smith (astro-imaging consultant, author of DDCAutoPilot and PremPro), Ron Wodowski (for "The New CCD Astronomy") and the 2004 Astro-Imaging Conference.
   Programs in use include Software Bisques "The Sky" (telescope control), Focus-Max (automated focus with this program and RoboFocus), CCDSoft (camera contol), Mira AP (image calibration and registration), Maxim DL (further processing and color stacking) and Adobe CS (final image processing).  John Smith's CCDAutoPilot is a remarkable program which is used to automate the image sessions (the telescope runs all night while the user sleeps). 

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