DSLR Capture of the Heart Nebula IC 1805

As I am back to imaging on my DSLR in the short term, I wanted to test out how it would perform on a hydrogen gas nebula, now that the camera has been modded and had a filter removed. I opted for the Heart Nebula – IC 1805 – as it afforded me the most time in one session. I captured a total of 8 hours of subs, each of 240 secs at ISO 800. These were then calibrated and stacked in PixInsight, my processor of choice.

I struggled, however, to process accurately in PixInsight – one corner in particular just refused to even out and so I was faced with the prospect of some rather extreme cropping to remove stubborn gradients. That is until I tried out a trial version of Star Tools. It stripped out the gradients with ease and actually produced an image of much greater clarity and crispness than PixInsight did, despite several attempts. A quick boost in Photoshop and it was finished.

I didn’t mask the stars as well as I’d have liked and this has resulted in some ring artifacts – I know where I went wrong and may go back and have another go in the future but I’m happy overall – especially in terms of the sheer amount of nebulosity the modded Canon allowed through.

I now own a licence for Star Tools – it doesn’t replace PixInsight but, like Photoshop, it is a handy tool in my processing arsenal and can produce excellent results quite quickly. I’ll see about doing a proper review of Star Tools once I truly get to grips with it.


Lights: 120 x 240secs (!!)

Darks: 20 (I’m going to move towards using more extreme dithering and a master bias instead of darks on the DSLR)

Flats: 50

Final image:

Stacked and calibrated in PixInsight

Processed in Star Tools

Finished in Photoshop

Heart Nebula


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