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Topics - Simon Hicks

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Off-topic / Astro Soc Field Trip
« on: 2011 May 07 07:06:52 »
Hi all,

If an astro society (maybe 15 people) based in Scotland wanted to go for a week vacation field trip to an observatory where they could get say 6 nights access to a large scope(s) (maybe 20inch) to do some observing and imaging, where would you recommend?

I'm thinking of something either in southern Europe, or maybe in the USA, somewhere where we can start to see objects that may not be so visible in Scotland (Latitude 55 degrees north) and just have some fun with some really dark skies.

Any thoughts?


General / Star Trails - The Intentional Kind
« on: 2011 April 10 06:27:38 »
Hi all,

Whilst on holiday I took a couple of sets of star trail images. I'm now trying to get some nice star trail images out of them. They are a set of maybe 25 x 4 minute exposures with an 18mm camera lens with a cottage and some trees in the foreground.

The question is really 'is there a way to combine them in PI?' I can't do a straight stack of the images because this enhances the S/N of the background  :) , but washes out the star trails.  :'(

I've tried the excellent little program at Firstly this only accepts 8bit images :( . But if I convert all my raw images to jpeg and put them into this program then I end up with quite noisy images at the end. I guess that it detects the differences in each image (i.e. the star trails in different positions) and makes sure they maintain their 'full' intensity (i.e. they don't get diluted by subsequent additional images)....but I guess that this means that all the noise in each image also gets maintained at its full intensity. Noise is a difference just like a star trail in a different position.

So has anyone got any good ideas as to how to get all the benefits of normal stacking of the background and foreground, whilst also not washing out the actual star trails by stacking?


Off-topic / Green Stars! Help Needed
« on: 2011 January 10 11:03:56 »
Hi all,

I've recently acquired a Canon 1000D and modded it with the Baader filter. I have taken a pile of 3 min subs near the Heart and Soul Nebula in full RGB through a Pentax 67 lens. However, whatever I do, I find that the smallest stars are always green....see zoomed in jepg of a central region below:

In the above image you can see that ALL of the smaller stars are green.

This is the result of 20 subs stacked in DSS....but I get exactly the same result with a single sub...just noisier.

I start with the Autosave file (32bit TIF), then use PixelMath with the following expression to neutralise things...

R   $T[0]/med($T[0])
G   $T[1]/med($T[1])
B   $T[2]/med($T[2])

By the way, the starting medians for the RGB are 0.269, 0.104 and the red is quite a bit higher than the other two.

So this puts the three histogram peaks on top of each other.

At this point I can just apply STF (three channels locked together) and I see the small green stars....OR I can go through a full BackgroundNeutralisation and ColorCalibration process...and I still see the small green stars.

I have tried varying just about every setting in DSS...always get the small green stars....and anyway, I get the same result if I look at just a single RAW sub....which sort of rules out DSS.

Any ideas as to what I am doing wrong?


Wish List / Batch Extract Channel
« on: 2010 October 21 05:53:55 »
Hi all,

I'm just getting into Halpha imaging with my DSLR. I have many tens of subs, flats, etc. I want to extract the red channel of the whole batch and resave the images....sort of a 'batch channel extract and batch resave'. I thought this might be a useful addition to the BatchFormatConversion script (well for me at least  :D ) ....maybe the default is all three channels, and some tick boxes to just extract one particular channel and save that in the desired format?


Off-topic / Mouseover Comparisons on the Forum
« on: 2010 March 05 05:01:28 »
Hi all,

Is it possible to do mouseover comparisons on forum posts? I am thinking of the type that we see really effectively used in some of the tutorials, like the one that Carlos and Oriol did .i.e. an image changes to another image when you put the mouse over the image or over some text, so you can do before and after comparisons.

Is it a case of inserting some code into a post?

These are extremely effective ways to get a message across and much better than two side by side images.


Bug Reports / HDRWavelets "Bug" Fixed!
« on: 2010 January 15 06:31:57 »
Hi all,

This is not so much a Bug Report....more of a Fixed PC Report that has the effect of fixing an "apparent" bug in PI, and maybe useful info for others.

I have a HP 6735b laptop 4GB RAM running Vista 32bit. My previous lower spec laptop ran all of PI just fine...but slow. The new HP laptop was faster but crashed to bluescreen everytime I ran HDRWavelets. This all started about a year ago and I have had the laptop back at HP for repair and testing. Since then it came back but the HDRWavelets problem persisted. In the end I just gave up and stopped using HDRWavelets.

Then my wife had problems with her Dell laptop.....running very slow, almost stopping for no reason. Various forums told her to run it from the mains with the battery actually removed from the laptop. She did this and all was cured. So out of desperation I tried this with my HP laptop. HDRWavelets now seems to run with absolutely no problems. I ran it for hours last night, taking the number of wavelets up to 12 and the iterations to 6.......I could not get it to crash.

I still have absolutely no idea why HDRWavelets crashes with the baterry in and runs OK with it out.....its obviously nothing to do with PI but something strange with my laptop. The change is miraculous and I'm a happy bunny.

I pass this info on just in case anyone has a similar just gives you something else to try.


Gallery / M33 from Kielder Star Party
« on: 2009 October 23 06:25:18 »
Hi all,

Here's my M33 taken whilst at the Kielder Star Party in the north of England. We had two fantastic clear still nights. This is the result of the second night's imaging. Equipment was 8" SCT (Celestron Nextstar), Canon 400D (modded), Philips webcam for guiding. 3 hours of 5 min subs. Stacked in DSS then all processing in PI. I found this one quite difficult to do too much with....the diffuse, bitty nature is quite difficult to deal with. So the processing was basically DBE, STE, BackgroundNeutralisation, ColorCorrection, HistogramStretch, some masked noise reduction (ACDNR) and a bit of masked sharpening (I think this was Carlos' script?), and finally a bit of DarkStructureEnhance. I'm sure there's more to be got out of the I will probably have another go later.

Looking at the M33 image by Bosch I am thinking maybe I should have gone a bit deeper....maybe 15 min subs?


Off-topic / New Homepage Suggestions
« on: 2009 October 01 12:46:18 »
Hi all,

Carlos said we should start a new thread for homepage its all his fault!  :D

Please take the following as just my suggestions....which are in no way meant to be criticisms. I'm just trying to get the ideas flowing.

I think the first thing to try to work out is what message the website is trying to convey. I think its supposed to be about PixInsight. But its not seems to be about Pleiades and a Spanish software development company. It doesn't seem to mention astrophotography processing anywhere prominant. I can remember the very first time I came across this site....I thought it was some university based organisation project. It was only when I went back to it for about the third time that I realised there was something I could download and was aimed at me. The upfront talk of "Open-Architecture Image Processing Platform" and "Advanced Development Framework" frankly scared me off!  :o

Don't get me wrong, the above is all very important and needs to be on the site....but its not the main message. So what is the main message?

I think the main message is something like "PixInsight - Cutting Edge Astronomical Image Processing Software". Then some major features / benefits....maybe just five. Then some words saying that this is more than just static software...its a dynamic collaboration between like minded astrophotographers (amateur and professional) who are pushing the bounds of astronomical image processing using the most powerful tools available, that new tools are being created continuously by an ever growing community and that if you download the software you can become part of this project (I hate the word 'project' but I can't think of a better one right now).

That might be all you need on the homepage. Then have links to other pages....Features / Benefits, The Core, How Can I Join In (PCL Framework), The Roadmap, Recent Developments (Recent Processes, New Scripts, etc), The WIKI, Pleiades Astrophoto, Downloads, etc.

The more I look at the site I think that most of the information is there, it just isn't clear on the Homepage. Its got too much cluttered info which detracts from the main message. If the homepage was revamped, and maybe the menu structure / order changed along the side, then this would help a lot.

That's my two pennies worth.


Off-topic / PI on a PS3
« on: 2009 August 19 05:12:28 »
Hi all,

Just a crazy thought...has anyone thought of trying PI on a PS3? You can get Linux for the PS3. The spec seems to be quite powerful. The following is some text from Wikipedia....

The PlayStation 3 uses the Sony, Toshiba, IBM-designed Cell microprocessor as its CPU, which is made up of one 3.2 GHz PowerPC-based "Power Processing Element" (PPE) and eight Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs).[104] The eighth SPE is disabled to improve chip yields.[105][106] Only six of the seven SPEs are accessible to developers as the seventh SPE is reserved by the console's operating system.[106] Graphics processing is handled by the NVIDIA RSX 'Reality Synthesizer', which can output resolutions from 480i/576i SD up to 1080p HD.[98] The PlayStation 3 has 256 MB of XDR main memory and 256 MB of GDDR3 video memory for the RSX.[107]

The PS3's hardware has also been used to build supercomputers for high-performance computing.[109] Terra Soft Solutions has a version of Yellow Dog Linux for the PlayStation 3,[110] and sells PS3s with Linux pre-installed,[111] in single units, and 6 and 32 node clusters.[112] In addition, RapidMind is pushing their stream programming package for the PS3.[113] Also, on January 3, 2007, Dr. Frank Mueller, Associate Professor ofComputer science at NCSU, clustered 8 PS3s. Mueller commented that the 256 MB of system RAM is a limitation for this particular application, and is considering attempting to retrofit more RAM. Software includes: Fedora Core 5 Linux ppc64, MPICH2, OpenMP v 2.5, GNU Compiler Collection and CellSDK 1.1.[114][115][116]

All of this is way above my head...but I just thought I'd raise it as a question.


Bug Reports / Blue Screen
« on: 2009 August 11 02:08:35 »
Hi Juan,

Since installing V1.5.5 I have been getting lots of blue screen crashes. These stated when using HDRWavelets. I could use it on small previews, but not on whole images. It doesn't happen all the will crash say once in every two or three goes. This happens on CR2 files and TIFF files. I haven't tried other formats.

I didn't worry about it too much at first because I knew the 1.5.6 version was coming out....I thought maybe it was just an issue with 1.5.5. So I installed this latest version when it came out but the problem remains.

Last night it crashed when I was using ATrouswavelets. I haven't seen it happen with any other Processes.

No other programs are causing these crashes. I am using Win 32 bit version on an HP laptop running WinXPPro with 3GB ram.

Is there anything I can do?


Off-topic / HDRComposition - Out of Memory
« on: 2009 April 17 04:39:20 »
Hi all,

I'm really impressed with the HDRComposition script....when I can get it to work. The problem is that I keep getting an Error (000) out of memory. And I can get this message even when I'm only combining two 32bit DSLR images (116Mb each) with no other programs running.

I am running a 3 month old HP laptop with 3Gb RAM, AMD DualCore 2.4GHz, WinXPPro, so I would have thought this should handle this with no problems.

I have used MSCONFIG to strip out as much unnecessary stuff as possible, and used Microsoft Process Explorer to help keep things lean as well.

I have gone into Settings/Control Panel/System/Advanced/Settings and changed to "Adjust for Best Performance". In this mode I can usually get two images to combine, but never three.

I'm at a bit of a loss. Is something eating up my RAM? How do I find out? Can anyone give me any guidance?


Wish List / Processing Console
« on: 2009 February 17 04:25:33 »
Hi PI Guys,

This isn't really a wish list item...more of a plea for help. Every time I run a Process, the Processing Consol eappears with all of the great info in it. But when it is finished it just hangs there and I need to close it everytime so I can see my image.

In the past it used to close automatically. So I have probably done something daft (not for the first time  :lol: ). How do I get it to close automatically?


Bug Reports / Module opening problems
« on: 2008 June 24 03:18:49 »
Hi PI Guys,

Firstly, really enjoying using PI Core...superb software.

However, for a while now I've been having a problem with various modules opening correctly. The modules concerned seem to be the ATrous wavelets one, the curves one and the histogram one. Basically when I open them they appear on the screen with the title bar and the window below is massively squashed up into a few mm. If I place the mouse on the bottom side of the pane it will pop open in that direction, then I have to do the same in the sideways direction as well.

On top of this, the ATrous wavelets window usually opens with the "Detail Layer 1/4" part (with the noise reduction, structure protection and deringing) completely missing. I can close the module and reopen it and its still not there. I usually need to close PI completely and reopen it again to get that part of the ATrous window to appear again.

I'm running under Windows XP Pro and I've even tried uninstalling and reinstalling the whole package but with no change in behaviour.

I can live with this, but its just a bit of a pain. I wondered if you had seen this before or knew of a way to solve it?


Bug Reports / Starmask & Previews
« on: 2008 April 22 04:29:32 »
Hi PI Guys,

If I create a small Preview in an image, and then select the Preview, and then create a Starmask of the Preview, then it takes just as long to calculate the Starmask as it does for the whole image.

If however I copy the Preview and then paste it as a new image then it takes approx 1 second to create a Starmask.

Is there something wrong with the way that Starmask is creating a starmask of a Preview, or am I doing something wrong?


Off-topic / Image Statistics
« on: 2008 March 04 11:18:47 »
Hi PI Guys,
                    I have been using DSS to stack images and then process with PI. I have been looking in detail at the various dark, flat and bias frames. With regard to bias frames, I have taken a number of individual images with my Canon 400D at 1/4000th second. I have imported the CR2 files straight into PI, extracted the Luminance and then measured the mean and median of each image using the Image/Statistics module.

However, if I stack in DSS whilst using these very bias frames, then DSS creates a MasterOffset file for me in tif format. If I import this into PI and measure the mean and median the values are 2 or 3 times higher than the individual frames.

I was expecting them to be roughly the same.

I have talked to Luc at DSS about this and he cannot seem to find anything wrong with the process I am following. I am not using any white balance or anything else that would seem to adjust the images whilst combining them.

I am either doing something wrong with the way I am handling the files, or the way DSS is handling them or the way PI is giving its results. I suspect the first! :-)

Can you help?


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