Saturday, February 9, 2013

Comparing planet stacking software

Living near city lights makes it quite difficult for me to see deep sky objects. I see many, but has to be an excellent weather. Planets are a lot easier target. Lately Jupiter has been in a good position for viewing. I've also tried to take a lot of photos. One of which was quite a success (with my skills and equipment) because you can see the moons as well.

A single shot of Jupiter. No stacking used here. 
This is the first photo ever I took of Jupiter that didn't require any imagination to recognize the planet. Well... best of the hundred I took that night. But still just a single shot and a bit help from Gimp.

Planets should be photographed by taking a video and stacking that. I've found 3 software to do that. RegiStaxAutoStakkert! and AviStack. None of them is open source but AviStack should work on Linux once you succeed on installing IDL Virtual Machine. For some reason I can't make it work.

I took my Skyliner 200, 2x Barlow, Canon EOS 1100D and a laptop with EOS Camera Movie Recorder (which is open source, yay!). I recorded this video:

...or actually about 6 of those. They're all quite identical so no need to share them all.

With the same movie I tried four different stacking software. My skills with them are almost non-existent so this comparison is mostly about how well the programs do automatically.

Here's the result:

I used drizzle when available, but I have no idea whether that was a good idea. I'm quite sure there was no need for it, but I don't know if it did any damage. This need more testing.

Autostakkert was perhaps the most automatic. It also did the best job although there was no wavelet sharpening. I did that with RegiStax6. The result is a lot better than the image that's also stacked with RegiStax.