-- frames taken with the imaging camera through the imaging scope, with the dust cap
. I.e., these are the actual exposures of the target object.
-- frames taken at the same ISO, exposure time, and temperature as the
, but withthe camera's body cap in place. Darks and Offsets are used to mitigate the effects of variousnoise sources in the camera.
) -- frames taken at the same ISO and temperature as the
, but with asshort an exposure time as the camera allows (1/4000'th of a second in the case of the 300D) andwith the camera's body cap in place.
-- frames taken of an evenly illuminated target, typically the sky just after sundown.These are used to correct for vignetting in the optical path of the imaging scope, and should betaken with the lowest ISO setting the camera allows.
-- the DSO you are setting out to photograph.
) -- the act of overloading a digital sensor to the point where it reportsits maximum intensity value. A clipped/saturated frame is one taken with an ISO setting that istoo high; an exposure time that is too long; or both. Clipping causes a loss of information thatcan
Many newcomers to digital astrophotography are confused by the notion of Lights, Darks, Offsets, andFlats, so here I'll give a very brief background on these concepts. The CMOS or CCD imaging chip inmost Digital SLRS will very faithfully and linearly collect light from the object you're trying to image.Unfortunately, the "signal" collected from the target object will get degraded by thermal noise andother noise sources. Darks and Offsets are the means by which we try to characterize and mitigate theeffects of these noise sources. Also, the telescope/lens optical train may not fully illuminate theimaging chip, depending on its size, resulting in a phenomenon called
. Flats are the means by which we try to characterize and mitigate the effects of this vignetting, and further the means bywhich we mitigate the effects of dust that might have settled on the imaging chip in the camera.The formula that relates these physical phenomenon, and the actual frames we'll collect over a night of imaging, are as follows:
Light = (Signal * Flat Signal) + Dark + Offset
is the image of the target object we
we could collect under ideal circumstances,and
is the image we
captured. Rearranging the terms, we have:
Signal = (Light - Dark - Offset) / Flat Signal
But realize that the Flats we capture with the camera will, in turn, be "polluted" by Darks and Offsetsin their own right, and so we must subtract Flat Darks and Flat Offsets from the Flat Lights as follows:
Flat Signal = Flat Light - Flat Dark - Flat Offset
So, plugging equation (3) into equation (2), yields the final result:
Light - Dark - Offset
Signal = ------------------------------------Flat Light - Flat Dark - Flat Offset
Thus, the basic digital astrophotography technique involves capturing
of the frame types listed onthe right-hand side of Equation 4, and using them in an image-processing program to produce the"Signal" term on the left. This process of subtracting Darks and Offsets, and dividing by Flats, is called