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Astrophotography automation software with EAGLE

Astrophotography automation softwares control all the devices that compose the telescope (camera, electronic focuser, motorized filter wheel, mount, autoguide, etc.) and automate images capture of deep-sky objects (such as galaxies, nebulae or star clusters). This way they maximize the recording time and do not require the operator to stay in front of the computer during the several hours of capture required in astrophotography. In this video, Filippo explains features of astrophotography automation software and shows that they are perfect for use with the EAGLE control unit.

Astrophotography automation softwares (such as Sequence Generator Pro, Voyager or Prism) in fact replace various software that, for example, are provided with the different devices used in astrophotography with telescopes: instead of using, for example, a software to capture the images from the camera, one to focus, a software to change the filters and one to align and point the mount, astrophotography automation softwares include all these features in a single platform and allow all the devices that compose the telescope for astrophotography to work together.

 

 

In fact, a typical long-exposure astrophotography session (to record galaxies, nebulae or star clusters) requires several steps such as:

  1. Telescope installation
  2. Polar alignment
  3. Stars alignment
  4. Object goto and framing
  5. Autoguide
  6. Filter selection
  7. Precision focusing
  8. Images capture
  9. Optional, filter change
  10. Precision focusing
  11. Images capture

 

Instead of being "manually" performed by the operator using different softwares, Filippo used Sequence Generator Pro astrophotography automation software (after performing the polar alignment with a Polemaster) to point the object to be recorded (NGC7331 galaxy with the Stephan Quintet, a group of five galaxies located in Pegasus constellation), select LRGB filters,  precisely focus (focus is performed for each filter), start the autoguide and capture a sequence of LRGB images (9xL images 300 seconds each, 9xR images 180 seconds each, 9xG images 180 seconds each, 9xB images 180 seconds each).

 

 Astrophotography automation software with EAGLE: the telescope used for the article Astrophotography automation software with EAGLE: the telescope used for the article

 

The used telescope is the Celestron EdgeHD 925 (with focal reducer and electronic focuser) with ATIK 16200 monochrome CCD camera (equipped with ATIK EFW3 7x50.8m motorized filter wheel with Baader LRGB filters, ATIK OAG off-axis guider and Lodestar X2 guide camera), everything installed on the Avalon-Instruments M-Uno mount and controlled by EAGLE. EAGLE is the perfect system also for astrophotography automation software because, thanks to the perfect management of power and control cables, it allows you to remotely control the telescope and let it work independently for several hours, without the fear that some cables disconnect or break, stopping the astrophotography session.

Finally we processed the captured images (36xLRGB images, 5x180 seconds darks, 5x300 seconds darks, 9 flats, and 25 bias) with the Pixinsignt software and this is the result: a wonderful image of NGC7331 galaxy (top left) with Stephan Quintet (bottom right)!

 

Astrophotography automation software with EAGLE: the captured image Astrophotography automation software with EAGLE: the captured image