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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Single image of the night sky


The interactive and zoomable image is available at
http://skysurvey.org

Photographer Nick Risinger traveled 60,000 miles around the globe to piece together a single image of the night sky that contains a staggering 20 million stars. The 5,000 megapixel image of the milky way galaxy is stitched together from over 37,000 digital images taken using a custom mount with standard camera and lenses.

Hardware:
Cameras—Finger Lakes ML-8300
Lenses—Zeiss Sonnar 85mm f2.8
Filters—Astronomik LRGB, Astrodon Ha
Mount—Takahashi EM-11 Temma 2 w/ custom armature
Generator—Yamaha EF1000iS for USA trips
Laptop—Intel Core i7-820QM running Linux Fedora, 8GB RAM w/ 4TB external storage

Software:
MaximDL—mount control, image capture, and creation of calibration frames (dark, bias, flat)
IRAF—many scripted tasks such as up-scaling, registration, saturated pixel replacements with scaled exposures, stacking, and median background modeling
SExtractor—building each frames list of objects
SCAMP—cross referencing to create position and distortion headers
Swarp—reprojection and stitching of frames
PixInsight—generate final LRGBHa color composite, midtones transfer function, noise reduction
GIMP—final assembly, curve & saturation tweaks

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