Astro Stacking Software For Mac

10/11/2021by admin

Hugely sensitive, really fast frame rates under USB3.0, IR sensitivity on all pixels longer than 810nm - this is a lovely camera. The read noise being low and sensitivity being high means short exposure stacking for DSOs works fairly well - and allows lucky imaging techniques to bring out.detail. that would not normally be there.

  1. Astro Stacking Software For Mac Os
  2. Astro Stacking Software For Macbook Pro
  3. Astro Stacking Software For Mac
  4. Astro Stacking Software For Mac

The line is becoming blurred between DSLR and Mirrorless digital cameras such as those by Sony, Nikon and Canon, and CMOS sensors used in dedicated astronomical cameras such as those by ZWO and QHY.

There are many different types of software that may help you astrophotography:

  • Camera Control
  • Software-Assisted Focusing
  • Image Acquisition Automation
  • Plate Solving
  • Image Calibration, Aligning and Stacking
  • Image Correction and Enhancement
  • Autoguiding Software
  • Photo Utilities
  • Photoshop Filters and Actions
  • Tutorials on Image Processing of Astrophotos
  • Planetarium Programs and Atlases

DSLR Camera Control

With camera control software, you can use your computer to control all of the functions and settings of your camera, such as setting the ISO, opening the shutter, and shooting multiple frames for stacking.

With the current generation of Canon EOS DSLR cameras software by the camera manufacturer will control all functions of the camera. This is accomplished through a single USB-2 Cable and includes control of the bulb setting for exposures longer than 30 seconds. This software also allows viewing of the Live-view real-time image on the computer and focusing.

With previous camera generations of Canon DSLRs and Nikon DSLR cameras, the camera manufacturer's software could control all camera functions except one critical one for astrophotography: the ability to shoot exposures longer than 30 seconds with the bulb setting. This major drawback necessitated the use of third-party software to control the camera and access bulb exposures longer than 30 seconds through the use of a serial to bulb port cable. For old cameras, two cables were necessary for astrophotography: one USB cable to control camera functions and one serial to bulb port cable for long exposures.


Software-Assisted Focusing

The latest generation cameras allow focusing through the camera manufacturer's software. This can be done by manual focusing and visual inspection of the Live-view image on the computer, or by autofocus if the camera is shooting through an autofocus lens.

For previous generation cameras without Live-View, an image had to be downloaded to the computer and then visually examined for focus accuracy. Programs will download an image and then examine a star and give a readout of the star's diameter or brightness. This metric-assisted focusing is objective and did not rely on any visual interpretation to determine focus.

Through a process of manual trial and error, accurate focus could be achieved through software-assisted focusing.

The latest DSLR camera manufacturer's software can make focusing very easy with Live-view, and some, like BackYardEOS, BackYardNIKON and AstroPhotography Tool use metric-assisted focusing for astrophotography.

If you have a mototized focuser, you can use software-assisted focusing to autofocus your telescope.


Image Acquisition Automation

Serious deep-sky astrophotography requires shooting many short exposures. This can be done manually, but it is very tedious. For example, faint deep-sky objects may require several hours worth of 5 minute exposures that are later stacked or combined in subsequent image processing.

Software such as Images Plus or MaxDSLR can automate this process. You simply specify in the software that you want the camera to shoot, say, 25 exposures of 5 minutes each at ISO 1600 with a pause of 10 seconds between frames (to give the system time to download each image).

The latest software provided by Nikon and Canon also provides the functionality for this type of automated image acquisition with the latest generation of DSLR cameras.


Plate Solving

There are several free pieces of software that will take an image (a short exposure) and 'plate solve' it for you. That means it examines patterns of stars in the image to determine the exact center of the field of view of your camera and scope. Once this is determined, the software can send these coordinates to your mount so the mount knows exactly where it is pointing to improve accuracy of GoTo's.

Plate solving is also useful if you shoot the same object over several nights. You can then solve an image from the first night, and store it. Then the next time out, you can just use that solve to frame your object for that night.


Image Calibration, Aligning and Stacking

Advanced astronomical imaging requires the 'calibration' of the raw original images. Calibration means removing unwanted fixed signals (such as thermal current and bias), and correction for signal modifications (such as vignetting) so that the raw image accurately represents the intensity of light incident on the sensor during the exposure. We will discuss these topics in detail in future sections, but right now lets just talk briefly about the software required for image calibration.

Both Canon and Nikon usually include image processing software with their cameras, but this software is for processing normal daytime images. You can not use it for image calibration, aligning, or stacking at all.

To calibrate your original raw astronomical images, you will require some type of special astronomical image processing software, such as Images Plus, MaxDSLR, AIP (Astronomical Image Processing), AstroArt, IRIS, Deepsky Stacker or Regim.

'Stacking' means combining many individual short exposures into a master image by any of several mathematical processes such as averaging, or addition. The term originates in the days of film astrophotography where images were literally stacked on top of one another to improve contrast and color.

You will also need to align your images so that the stars in them line up perfectly.

Whatever software you use for image calibration will almost certainly also do aligning and image stacking. It is possible to align and stack images in Photoshop, but for more than a couple of frames, the process is extremely tedious and not as accurate as with a dedicated astronomical image processing program.


Image Correction and Enhancement

Once your images are calibrated, aligned and stacked, you will want to correct for things such as color balance, and increase the contrast to make faint details more visible. You will probably also want to apply some type of noise reduction, and you may want to apply more sophisticated enhancement techniques.

These processes can be done in the previously mentioned astronomical image processing programs such as Images Plus, MaxDSLR, AIP (Astronomical Image Processing), AstroArt, and IRIS.

However, at this stage of image processing, many astrophotographers prefer to switch to a general image processing program such as Photoshop.


Autoguiding Software

For long-exposure deep-sky astrophotography, guiding during the exposure can be very useful in producing higher quality images. By manually or automatically following a star by making corrections in right ascension and declination higher tracking accuracy is obtained.

Autoguiding involves using a separate CCD or Webcam to monitor a stars position and then send corrections to the telescope's mounting to guide or follow the star with high accuracy to compensate for inaccuracies in the mount's tracking.

SBIG used to make the ST-4 and ST-V which were stand alone autoguiders which did not require a computer. These units have been discontinued but can be found used on Astromart.

CCD cameras and webcams can be also be used as autoguiders, but software, such as GuideDog and PHD, is required to run on a computer that interfaces between the autoguider and mount.


Photo Utilities

These programs perform useful functions like allowing you to open FITS format files, perform noise reduction, and create thumbnails for indexing and archiving.


Photoshop Filters and Actions

These filters and actions work inside of Photoshop and perform specialty functions for astronomy, such as gradient and noise reduction.


Tutorials on Image Processing of Astrophotos

Tutorials in book and video format teach you how to do astrophotography, and use programs such as Images Plus for image calibration and Photoshop for image correction and enhancement.


Planetarium Programs and Atlases

Planetarium programs and atlases let you find out what is up in the sky, and plan your observing and astrophotography session.


Astronomical Software For the PC

  • DSLR Camera Control

    • IRIS $Free - DSLR control, image acquisition automation
    • PalmDSLR $Free - DSLR control with a Palm computer
    • APT (Astro Photography Tool) - Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation
    • BackyardEOS Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation, drift alignment assist
    • BackyardNIKON Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation, drift alignment assist
    • Nebulosity Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation, image calibration, image processing
    • Images Plus Camera Control DSLR control, focusing, image acquisition automation
    • AstroArt DSLR and CCD control and image processing
    • Maxim DL DSLR control and image processing
  • Software-Assisted Focusing

    • Focus Max $Free - Focusing software that automates focusing if you have a motorized focuser that works with Maxim DL or CCD Soft
    • APT (Astro Photography Tool) - Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation
    • BackyardEOS Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation, drift alignment assist
    • Nebulosity Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation, image calibration, image processing
    • Images Plus Camera Control DSLR control, focusing, image acquisition automation
    • AstroArt DSLR and CCD control and image processing
    • Maxim DSLR DSLR control and image processing
  • Image Acquisition Automation

    • DSLR Shutter $Free - image acquisition automation
    • APT (Astro Photography Tool) - Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation
    • BackyardEOS - Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation, drift alignment assist
    • Nebulosity - Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation, image calibration, image processing
    • Images Plus Camera Control - DSLR control, focusing, image acquisition automation
    • AstroArt - DSLR and CCD control and image processing
    • Maxim DSLR - DSLR control and image processing
  • Plate Solving

  • Image Calibration, Aligning and Stacking

    • Deepsky Stacker $Free - Image calibration, alignment, stacking
    • Regim $Free - Image calibration, alignment, stacking
    • IRIS $Free - DSLR control, image acquisition automation
    • RegiStax $Free - for stacking planetary images shot with webcams
    • Nebulosity - Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation, image calibration, image processing
    • AIP (Astronomical Image Processing) - Image calibration, correction, enhancement
    • Images Plus - Image calibration, correction, enhancement
    • AstroArt - DSLR and CCD control and image processing
    • PixInsight - Image calibration, correction, enhancement
    • Maxim DSLR - DSLR control and image processing
  • Image Correction and Enhancement

    • IRIS $Free
    • GIMPshop $Free
  • Autoguiding Software

    • GuideDog $Free
    • PHD (Push Here Dummy) $Free
    • Metaguide $Free
    • Guidemaster $Free
  • Photo Utilities

    • Dark Library $Free - Sort Dark frames by EXIF temperature data
    • EXIF Reader $Free - Reads EXIF data, such as shutter speed, ISO, aperture, date and time of photo that is stored in the image file. Also a thumbnail and image viewer
    • FITS Liberator $Free - FITS file format image handling software
    • Noiseware Community Edition $Free - Noise Reduction software
    • Background Subtraction Toolkit $Free - Remove gradients and vignetting
    • IrfanView $Free - Image viewer
    • Picassa $Free - Thumbnail and Image Viewer and database
    • ThumbsPlus $90 - Thumbnail viewer and database
    • StarTrails - $Free - Stack individual frames to creat a star-trail image
    • StarStax $Free - Stack individual frames to creat a star-trail image
    • StarMax $Free - Stack individual frames to creat a star-trail image
  • Photoshop Filters and Actions

    • Astronomy Tools - Noel Carboni's Photoshop actions for various astrophoto techniques
    • Annie's Astro Actions - Astrophotography specific Photoshop actions
    • Noise Ninja - Noise Reduction filter
    • GradientXTerminator - Removes vignetting and gradients
  • Tutorials on Image Processing of Astrophotos

    • PixInsight Tutorials $Free
    • Photoshop for Astrophotographers $25 (Download version)
    • A Guide to Astrophotography with Digital SLR Cameras $40 (Book on CD-ROM)
    • P4AP Warren Keller
    • EZ-CCD-DVD - Tony Hallas Video Tutorials on DVD
  • Planetarium Programs and Atlases

    • Stellarium $Free
    • Cartes du Ciel $Free
    • Virtual Moon Atlas $Free

Astronomical Software For the Mac

  • DSLR Camera Control and Focusing

    • DSLR Shutter $Free - image acquisition automation
    • Nebulosity - Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation, image calibration, image processing
    • Astrophoto $Free - Digital camera focus and control software for Canon astrophotography using Macintosh OS X
    • Astro IIDC - primarily for planetary imaging
  • Astronomical Image Processing Programs

    • Keith's Image Stacker - For stacking planetary images
    • Lykenos $Free - Planetary image stacking and processing
    • Astrostack - Image stacking and processing
    • Nebulosity - Camera control, focus, image acquisition automation, image calibration, image processing
  • General Image Processing Programs

    • GIMPshop $Free
  • Photo Utilities

    • FITS Liberator $Free - FITS file format image handling software
    • Photo Bundled with New Macs, or available as part of iLife ) - image viewer, database, and image editing
    • StarStax $Free - Stack individual frames for a star trail image
  • Photoshop Filters and Actions

    • Astronomy Tools - Noel Carboni's Photoshop actions for various astrophoto techniques
    • Annie's Astro Actions - Astrophotography specific Photoshop actions
    • Noise Ninja $80 Noise Reduction filter
  • Tutorials on Image Processing of Astrophotos

    • Photoshop for Astrophotographers $25 (download)
    • A Guide to Astrophotography with Digital SLR Cameras $40 (Book on CD-ROM)
  • Planetarium Programs, Atlases, Etc.

    • Stellarium $Free - Desktop planetarium and space simulation
    • Celestia $Free - Desktop planetarium and space simulation
    • AstroPlanner - Planning, logging, telescope control
    • Equinox6 - Desktop planetarium, telescope, webcam and focuser control
    • AstroImage Browser - Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) front end, astrophotography planning, and ability to overlay your own images on DSS images for comparison
    • The SkyX - Desktop Planetarium
    • Starry Night - Desktop planetarium

Astronomical Software For Linux


Prices on all commercial software are subject to change without notice.

Note that you should be able to run any of the Windows programs listed above on your Mac with OS-X and software like Parallels or VMware Fusion.

Midnightkite also has a nice collection of links to lots of other astronomical related software for a variety of operating systems.


Software That I Use

  • Planning

  • Weather Evaluation

  • Polar Aligning

  • Plate Solving and Target Acquisition
    • AstroPhotography Tool with
      • Astrometric STAcking Program (ASTAP) and

  • Software-Assisted Focusing

  • Camera Control
    • BackYardEOS or

  • Autoguiding Software

  • Image Acquisition Automation
    • BackYardEOS or

  • Image Calibration, Aligning and Stacking

  • Image Correction and Enhancement

  • Photoshop Filters and Actions

Astrophotography How-To Books by Jerry Lodriguss

If you like the information you have read here, I have several books that you may find of interest.

If you think there is a lot of information here on these web pages, just wait until you see how much more there is in these books!

Beginner's Guide to DSLR Astrophotography

This HTML book for beginning astrophotographers explains how to take beautiful images with your digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera using simple step-by-step techniques that anyone can learn.

You will see how easy it is to take great pictures with very modest equipment and basic methods that are within everyone's ability.

With this book you will learn how to take amazing images of the night sky with your DSLR camera.

Get Started in DSLR Astrophotography Today!



Beginner's Guide to Astronomical Image Processing

Astro Stacking Software For Mac Os

This book written in HTML5 is a digital download. It is for beginning astrophotographers and explains in step-by-step detail how to stack your images in DeepSkyStacker and then process them in Photoshop.

You will learn how to improve the brightness, contrast and color of your deep-sky images to produce beautiful results.

The book also includes 25 video tutorials on each step of image processing.

Astro

Get started in Astronomical image processing today!



Advanced Guide to DSLR Astrophotography

This HTML book for more advanced imagers. It explains how digital cameras work in more technical detail and gives step-by-step directions for more advanced imaging techniques.

It also tells you on how to process your images in Photoshop, with step-by-step directions that will produce beautiful results.

The CD-ROM also includes more than 100 minutes of video tutorials on image processing.

Take your astrophotography to the next level!



A Guide to DSLR Planetary Imaging

This HTML book will show you how to take planetary images with your Live-View equipped DSLR. It explains the basics of high-resolution planetary imaging and gives step-by-step directions on how to shoot exciting pictures the Sun and Moon and fascinating planets like Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.

It also tells you on how to process your images in programs like RegiStax and AutoStakkert!, with step-by-step directions that will produce beautiful results.

The CD-ROM also includes more than 100 minutes of video tutorials on image processing.

Get started with planetary photography with your DSLR today!



Astrophotographer's Guide to the Deep Sky

This HTML book will help you answer the question 'what should I shoot tonight?'

It will provide you with detailed information and examples of the many beautiful objects in the deep sky that you can photograph with your own equipment.

A master list of objects includes 500 of the best and most photogenic galaxies, nebulae, supernovae remnants, stars, star clusters and constellations. This list can be sorted by object name, object type, catalog number, constellation, right ascension and focal length.

Images of more than 275 select objects visible from the northern hemisphere are displayed on individual pages with photographic information and details about these objects.

All-sky constellation charts are clickable with links to individual constellation images. These, in turn, have objects plotted on them that link to object pages.

A local sidereal time calculator will tell you when objects are on the meridian where they are highest in the sky and best placed for photography.

Discover the many fantastic targets in the deep sky!



Photoshop for Film Astrophotographers

This HTML book is a guide to basic digital correction and advanced enhancement techniques for film astrophotos in Adobe Photoshop image-processing software.

Whether you are a beginning amateur astrophotographer, or a seasoned veteran, you will learn new and exciting techniques.

Use Photoshop to produce visually stunning images!



These books will help you to avoid those bad practices that lead to poor images. I made just about every mistake you could make when I was first starting out and did not know what I was doing. You don't have to make these same mistakes. You too can learn the secrets of deep-sky astrophotography!

Don't waste your long and hard efforts at astrophotography - find out how thousands of others just like you have gotten excellent results by using these books.

You can do it too! What are you waiting for?

ZWO ASI290MM Mini Guide Camera

The ZWO ASI290MM Mini (Mono) is a CMOS astronomy camera for autoguiding and planetary astrophotography. It houses a high-performance SONY IMX290 1/3” monochrome sensor with 2.1 Mega Pixels.

I’ve recently installed this guide camera on my deep sky astrophotography rig, which includes a Sky-Watcher Esprit 100 ED telescope on an EQ6-R Promount. The camera now sits in a 60mm StarField guide scope, anxiously waiting for clear skies.

This is ZWO’s first miniature camera in its lineup, and boy is the internal sensor tiny! It adds virtually zero weight to your imaging payload, and its slender profile takes up no more space than a 1.25” eyepiece.

On top of the impressive specs of this miniature astronomy camera, it’s also one of the most popular guide cameras to use with the ASIair.

The ZWO ASI290MM Mini Guide Camera.

Not to be confused with the ASI290MM (Mono), which is a completely different camera, the 290MM Miniaims to provide amateur astrophotographers with a practical autoguiding solution. At the time of writing, this USB2.0 camera is only one of 2 that is supported by the ASIair smart WiFi device (all others are USB3.0).

Although the camera sensor in the 290MM Mini is very small (1936 x 1096 pixels), it is a very capable autoguiding camera for deep sky astrophotography. The pixel size of the 290MM is 2.9 μm x 2.9 μm, and provides 12bit ADC.

The tiny SONY IMX290 1/3″ Sensor

When it comes to autoguiding, it’s important to have a guide camera that is sensitive enough to detect several guide stars in the field. The ASI290MM Mini sensor includes amp glow reduction circuitry, which helps it produce high-quality guide exposures that detect subtle star movement.

ZWO ASI290MM Mini Specs:

  • Sensor: IMX290 CMOS
  • Size: ⅓” – 5.6 x 3.2mm
  • Resolution: 1936 x 1096
  • ADC: 12bit
  • Read Noise: 1.0e
  • FPS: 20.4
  • QE: 80%
  • USB: 2.0

I personally use the ASI290 Mini with my StarField 60mm guide scope for autoguiding purposes. My favorite features of this camera thus far are its small size and compatibility with the ASIair device, (and that it matches my red ASI294MC Pro)!

This miniature camera can also be used for planetary imaging. Small sensors with low read noise and high QE (quantum efficiency) are beneficial for high-resolution imaging of the Planets.

Comparing the ASI290MM Mini and 290MM/MC

A Miniature CMOS Camera

This camera uses a 12bit ADC (Analog to digital converter) with a high quantum efficiency output. The mono SONY IMX290 sensor in the ASI290 Mini is highly sensitive. This means that more stars can be detected in short guiding exposures.

The 2.9um pixel size provides the slightest of movements of your guide star, thanks to a high arcsec/pixel ratio. Compared to the ASI 120MM, the 290 improves guiding precision by 30%.

The 290MM Mini works with the ZWO CS adapter and CS Lens and is suitable for OAG (Off-axis guiding). All of the camera drivers and image capture software you’ll need to get started can be found on the Software and Drivers section of the ZWO website.

The ASI290mm Mini is compatible with the ASIair Camera Controller for Autoguiding

Guide Camera for the ZWO ASIair

I’ve used several ZWO ASI cameras with Astro Photography Tool in the past, and will now leverage the convenience of WiFi control via the ASIair.

The ZWO ASI290 MM Mini includes an ST4 port to connect the camera to your telescope mount. I’ll use this monochrome camera to guide my telescope on a Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro mount, and power the guide camera with an ASIair WiFi camera controller.

The ASIair software includes a standalone autoguiding system, but I could also use the traditional method of PHD2 guiding with my laptop computer.

This is the first astronomy camera I have ever used that uses a Type C USB 2.0 port. This connection type is popular in mobile devices and modern laptops. This camera came with 2 “flat style” USB cables (0.5m and 2m), which are really handy and give this device a premium feel.

Because the ASIair supports all ASI 3.0 and Mini cameras, I can plug the USB Type C cable into the USB port of the ASIair, and the 290MM is instantly recognized in the ASIair app on my Android phone.

ASIair Supported Cameras:

  • All ASI USB3.0 cameras
  • All ASI cooled cameras
  • All ASI mini cameras.

(It does not support ASI120MM/MC cameras)

Included in the Box

The ASI290MM Mini comes with all of the necessary cables and adapters in an impressively handsome box for neat storage. ZWO has done a superb job of branding their ASI cameras and providing the best possible user experience for beginners.

  • 1.25” cover
  • Camera body
  • Quick guide
  • 0.5m USB 2.0 Cable
  • 2m USB 2.0 Cable
  • ST4 Cable
  • M28.5-CS adapter
  • 1.25” extender

Astro Stacking Software For Macbook Pro

ASI290MM Mini vs. SSAG

The SSAG (Orion Starshoot autoguider) is a popular guide camera with a comparable sensor size to the 290mm Mini. In the reviews I have read, the SSAG sometimes struggles to find guide stars (especially when using OAG).

However, the ASI290mm mini does not have this problem, and guide stars are quickly detected, even after a meridian flip in an automated sequence. Previous owners of the SSAG found the 290mm Mini to be a big upgrade.

Who is this camera for?

Although the pixel scale is advantageous for planetary imaging, the USB 2.0 transfer speed (20.4 frames per second) may slow you down. Deep-sky imaging is also possible, but the tight, uncooled sensor may lack the image size and SNR you are aiming for.

I would place the ZWO ASI290MM in the autoguiding camera category. If you’re interested in a camera that was built for taking large deep-sky images, consider the ZWO ASI294MC Pro.

For a detailed review of the ASI290MM Mini, have a look at the following thread on Cloudy Nights. Have a look at the 290MM Mini in use for planetary photography on the moon (video).

Full Camera Specifications from ZWO:

  • Sensor: 1/2.8″ CMOS IMX290/IMX291
  • Resolution: 2.1 MP (1936 × 1096)
  • Pixel Size: 2.9µm
  • Exposure Range: 32µs-2000s
  • ROI (Region of Interest): Supported
  • ST4 Guider Port: Yes
  • Focus Distance to Sensor: 8.5mm
  • Shutter Type: Rolling Shutter
  • Protect window: AR coated window
  • Operating System Compatibility: Mac, Windows, Linux
  • Interface: USB2.0
  • Bitrate: 12bit output (12bit ADC)
  • Adaptor: 1.25″ / M28.5X0.6
  • Dimension: φ36mm X 61mm
  • Weight: 60g
  • Working Temperature: -5°C—45°C
  • Storage Temperature: -20°C—60°C
  • Working Relative Humidity: 20%—80%
  • Storage Relative Humidity: 20%—95%

Astro Stacking Software For Mac

You can expect a detailed review of this guide camera from me in the near future (If the clouds ever go away)! I’ll control the 290MM Mini using the dedicated ASIair app on my Android Galaxy Tab A Tablet.

Astro Stacking Software For Mac

My Imaging Setup (Summer 2019)

I have used this camera to autoguide my setup while photographing many deep-sky objects from the Iris Nebula, and the Cave Nebula. The image below should give you a better idea of what my complete imaging setup looks like with the ASI290mm Mini attached to the guide scope. The 290mm Mini provides reliable results night in and night out when used in this system.

Resources:

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