With judges noting the excellent colour overall and well-handled highlights and background, Mark Germani’s edit of our Messier 20 data has won the October 2021 SkyNews Astroimage Editing Contest.
“This was my first go at LRGB processing,” Germani wrote. “I decided to go with the Level 3 files for a challenge, and stacked the best seven of each colour, and the best 13 luminance, in Astro Pixel Processor. I used the RGB Combine tool in Astro Pixel Processor, and the light pollution removal tool, as well, and did a small stretch.”
Germani said he continued in Photoshop, using Gradient xTerminator to even out some unevenness in colour and luminance and did a very light denoising in Topaz AI. He said he used various actions from ProDigital Software’s Astronomy Action Set (blotch reduction, make stars smaller, increase star colour, local contrast enhancement) and then ran the image through StarNet++ to create a starless version.
He then went back into Astro Pixel Processor and saved an image with no stretch, and proceeded to stretch it in Photoshop using Mark Shelley’s ArcSin curves presets — “taking care not to blow out the stars if possible” — and reprocessed the image to optimize for stars.
He added the starless nebula image using different blend modes enhance the colour, luminosity and contrast of the nebula, and used Adobe Camera Raw to finish, plus a little noise reduction a quick level adjust. Lastly, he said he cropped slightly to reduce the artifacts on the edge of the frame and centre the core of the nebula.
Located near Auberry, California, The RASC Robotic Telescope is a 16-inch, f/8.9 RCOS with a SBIG STX-16803 camera on a Paramount ME mount. It has seven filters: LRGB, Hydrogen-alpha, Oxygen III and Sulphur II. A Canon 6D — used to capture larger targets — is piggy-backed on the scope, sporting a 200mm f/2.8 lens.
To learn more about the contest or enter this month, click here.
Each month, SkyNews will be giving the winner a prize package that includes: access to RASC Robotic Telescope data for the year, as well as some essential stargazing tools — a one-year gift subscription to SkyNews (to use or to give to a friend), a SkyNews folding chair, a SkyNews backpack and a SkyNews red light keychain.