Category SBIG ST-10XME

Giving CCD Blooms the One-Two Punch with MaximDL and the NewAstro DeBloomer Plugin

When imaging with a CCD camera with a high quantum efficiency (QE), such as the SBIG ST-10XME with the KAF 3200ME chip, you sometimes have to deal with some very nasty blooms.  Due to the ST-10XME lack of antiblooming gate, light from bright stars overwhelm the full well capacity (electron holding capacity) of the pixels on which they are being collected, resulting in excess electrons spilling over into adjacent pixels.  In other words, the light-gathering pixel exceeds its capacity to hold captured photons which yields stars that have irregular diffraction spikes, as seen in the image below.

Blooming Example Pelican Nebula

Sometimes, the blooming can get so bad that you must take special care to preserve the stars and the detail.  During bloom removal, sometimes the excess electrons can spill over onto other stars and destroy them, ruining your star field.  I use MaximDL’s bloom removal tool but sometimes that tool removes more than just the blooms.  There is also an DeBloomer Plugin for MaximDL created by Ron Wodaski, which contains both automatic and manual tools that remove blooms.  The nice aspect of the DeBloomer plugin is that it performs a batch process on all your images.  I recently learned, while processing subs from M31, that the MaximDL bloom removal tool was not sufficient enough to preserve the stars when the blooms from an adjacent star spilled over onto it.  Here is an example:

Here is a two step process for dealing with these types of blooms while preserving adjacent stars using ...

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Narrowband Imaging, Processing Tools and Techniques

ElephantTRunkNebulaSliderSince getting an SBIG ST-10XME and a CFW10 with Narrowband (Ha, SII, and OIII) filters, I could not wait to image an emission nebula.  I received the new goodies on August 9th, and of course, the conditions were not right to image until August 20th.  I had first light with the ST-10XME under a bright full moon so I could only shoot through Hydrogen Alpha filter.  Ten days later on August 30th, I was able to shoot with all 3 filters so I chose the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula (IC 1396) as my target.

Narrowband Imaging

Learning how to image through Narrowband filters was not as difficult as I imagined.  Here are some things I learned along the way:

  • Since these types of filters only let in certain wavelengths of light, one of the main differences was the exposure time.  I typically take 5 minute subs but I had to increase the time to 10 minutes to get a decent looking sub with lots of detail.  Your experience may vary and will depend on the focal length of your telescope and imaging equipment
  • I still focus my telescope manually so focusing follows the same routine of looking at the stars Full Half Width Maximum (FHWM) to see if you are in focus.  I focus with the Ha filter in a 3×3 bin, with a 1 second continuous exposure
  • I have collected data a couple of different ways.  When the moon is in the sky, I will collect Ha data.  If the Moon is not present, I will collect all 3 types of data (Ha, SII, and OIII)
  • With Narrowband imaging, it is all about data data data...
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First Light Takahashi Sky 90 ST-10XME CFW10 Astrophotography Set Up

Takahashi Sky 90 + SBIG ST-10XME + CFW10

Takahashi Sky 90 + SBIG ST-10XME + CFW10

For my 15th wedding anniversary, my wife bought me an SBIG ST-10XME, a CFW10, and a full set of Astrodon Series E Gen 1 filters (LRGB + SII, OIII, and Ha).  Here is my imaging set up, which includes the following:

Takahashi Sky 90II Refractor Telescope (f/5.6; 500mm)

SBIG ST-10XME Monochrome CCD Camera

SBIG CFW10 Filter Wheel

  • Inside the Filter Wheel are 1.25″ mounted Astrodon Series E Gen 2 Filters (LRGB + SII, OIII, and Ha)
SBIG CFW10 Astrodon E Series Gen 1 Filters

SBIG CFW10 Astrodon E Series Gen 2 Filters

To connect the CCD to the Telescope, I use the following combination:

1.  Camera Angle Adjuster

2.  Field Flattener/Reducer (f/4.5; 408mm)

3.  41.2mm Spacer (TCD0018L)

For Autoguiding, I use the following

  • Orion 50mm Guidescope
  • Orion Starshoot Autoguider

All of this equipment sits on top of a Celestron CG-5 Advanced GOTO Mount

On August 22nd, I had First Light with the ST-10XME and captured the Elephants Trunk Nebula (IC 1396):

Elephants Trunk Nebula (IC 1396)

Elephants Trunk Nebula (IC 1396)

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