AutoStakkert!2 - Lucky Imaging stacking software

All the images on this website were processed using the lucky imaging software AutoStakkert! that I starting developing in late 2010. This software extracts the sharpest portions out of a large sequence of images, and combines them in such a way that you end up with a single sharp image where athmospheric distortions have been minimized. The software is used world-wide by many amateur astronomers taking images of the Sun, Moon and Planets. The software is freeware! If you like using it, a donation is much appreciated though.

To quote a famous planetary astrophotographer: "I can't see me ever using anything else to align image sequences from now on!"Damian Peach

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My latest image

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Welcome to my Webcam Astrophotography website!

"Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people." - Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996)

Welcome! I built this astrophotography website to keep track of most of the images I made during the past few years. Most of the pictures on this website were made using a Meade Starfinder 10" EQ telescope on the original mount. Recently I became the owner of a 16" Dobson telescope, which has - of course - became my main imaging instrument! Because astronomical deepsky camera's are rather expensive, I started with using several SC modified webcams to produce the images. Some of these webcams are modified for long exposure only, but some webcams have also been equiped with a more sensitive black and white CCD.

In June 2009 I bought a camara. This camera is far superior to the b/w Toucam Pro camera when it comes to planetary imaging. The DMK is also capable of long exposure images, but since it has no cooling and the ccd is extremely tiny, it's not very useful for most deepsky imaging. Nevertheless it can produce really nice images of bright and small deepsky images like M57. In March 2010 I had the camera modified with a new much more sensitive CCD chip, the icx618ala. This effetively increased the sensitivity of the camera by a factor of two, and really improved the imaging of faint targets a lot. Later that year a Basler Ace acA640-100gm camera was purchased that also uses that icx618 CCD but allows for much faster frame rates of up to 120 fps, which is especially important for the brighter planetary targets.

Unfortunately the Basler Ace camera showed artifacts especially under low-noise conditions, and this made it difficult to use. I'm currently using an ASI120MM camera that proved to be a very good camera indeed. The resolution of the CMOS sensor that it carries is 1280x960 (compared to 640x480 for the acA640), which makes imaging lunar and solar targets a lot more fun. For planetary imaging the camera supports ROI with frame rates of more than 100 fps. The read-noise and sensitivity are both very good resulting in better images than the icx618 CCDs can produce.

The banner at the top of this page shows the northern sky on an early summer morning seen from my imaging location (52°42'N, 6°16'E). From this location I can get decent views on pretty much all directions. In the south and west I do have some light pollution, but usually this is not a problem because of the short exposure times I'm using for both deepsky and planetary images.

If you have any questions or remarks about this website, my imaging techniques, astronomical software that I wrote, or images, please feel free to contact me.

Emil Kraaikamp