Re:Stacking images

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Posted by Graham Relf at 15:59 on 2012 Sep 09

There should be no difficulty, provided that there is a significant overlap between the frames, so that most of the brightest stars in one frame are also visible in the others. The scale needs to be similar too – ie, the same focal length lens or optical set-up in the telescope for all frames.My own software works by looking at the patterns of connecting lines between the brightest stars (the 24 brightest, unless the user changes that number). They do not all have to match.Stacking is done into an accumulator image having 32 bits per channel, so that adding up brightnesses does not cause them all to saturate (reach the 16-bit limit, which is the depth of the original images). For deep sky work it is important to keep the 32-bit depth for subsequent processing, otherwise you are throwing away the possibility of pulling out the faintest detail from the background. So if the stacking software can take as input files having 32 bits per channel, you will not lose anything by stacking two or more already stacked results. That necessarily means saving the results as FITS files because 32-bit TIFF files (aimed for importing into Photoshop) use 32-bit floating point rather than integer values and so really have only 23 bits per channel resolution (allowing for wasted sign bit).If you cannot use 32-bit FITS files as input to the stacker you would be better off stacking all of the original 16-bit frames in one sequence, even if from different nights.