best astrophotography software
If I may ask a rudimentary question: what is the purpose/goal of stacking astrophotography photos? I understand merging exposures for hdr, but what is the deal with stars, the moon, whichever? I would like to find out as my girlfriend loves everything astronomy.
Those were good replies, but I would like to add one thing. One of the critical factors in the clarity of a astrophotography image is the "seeing." The more turbulent the atmosphere at the time you are imaging. the less defined will be the details. On some still, ultra-clear nights at high altitude, far from city lights, the seeing gets amazingly good, but for any other circumstances, it is less than ideal.
Stacking by itself will only have a limited effect, but if the stacking is done with sophisticated software that removes the "outliers" from each exposure, then that star that can be seen jumping around very noticeably in a "live view" 200% view as you try to get the perfect focus, becomes a single set of illuminated pixels representing the center of mass of the various positions the star was in while you were imaging.
It is most apparent, as the previous post noted, in moon or planet shots. A set of well processed stacked images will result in a photo of the moon or a planet so much better than the very best single photo you could get from the Mr. Palomar telescope that it will blow your socks off! Good stacking software looks for the portions of each image that are sharp and in clear focus and keeps them wile discarding the fuzzy, out of focus area right next to it. The more images it has the better the final result.
When shooting a fuzzy nebula, stacking has a noticeable but relatively minor effect. When shooting something that has a lot of detail to display, then the difference is huge!
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