Hercules Nebula (Post-Processing Revisit)

So this data was collected back in 2011 on a Lumix GH2, that by today’s count is over 9 years ago. It was a series of Nine 20 second iso3200 photos. By today’s standards, there is a lot of noise, but the short exposures resulted in round stars so its usable.

Original Image processed manually in Photoshop in 2011

I’ve learned a lot about post-processing images in that time and my software has also improved as well, back then I was aligning manually in photoshop and then “stacking” each frame by hand for the results. I also didn’t know enough back then to toss the questionable subs away, thinking “more data is always better than less data” even when the data wasn’t perfect. Now I’m using Pixinsight and selectively choosing which frames to include (hint, over 40% didn’t make it in the final image).

Reprocessed with Pixinsight in 2019

So I revisited it today, the first of many older imaging trains which I think I can improve on the final result. As you can see, there is a marked improvement in the core where originally it was blown out and misalignment between frames ended up creating a blur. There is also a lot more noise in the original image which was reduced by crushing the background; whereas, in the new photo it shows fainter stars surrounding the cluster. There is also some tweaking in the colour to show the blue and yellow stars more distinctively, enough so that you can now clearly see the “X” that exist in the cluster, and interesting feature I didn’t even know back in 2011 existed.

I think when I have a chance I’ll image the cluster again with my new set-up and see how much better I can get this popular target before it sets into the horizon for the year.

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