Staring @ the Sun, 87

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To paz or not To paz?


08/25/2021. AI, that is the question... OK, see, I've heard people doubt that image processing programs pull real details out of blurry pictures for as long as I've written or used image processing software (35 years, 36?). So when I hear that TopazAI is too good to be true, I'm inclined to dismiss that criticism as so much uninformed and probably baseless skepticism. But when both Emil Kraaikamp (Mr. Autostakkart) and Damian Peach (probably the best planetary imager on this planet) say it's a problem, I tend to think it might be.

After a fair amount of inspection over several weeks, I haven't caught TopazAI introducing features that I can't tease out with other software (albeit tediously, after maybe half an hour, rather than almost instantly, in a few seconds), so maybe you have to really abuse the program to make it misbehave (and, yes, you certainly can persuade it to impute implausible structures by pushing data beyond all reason). The question is: does it slip in some subtle fictions even when used with care? And the point is, who can be sure?

I watched a video from Damian that suggests that Registax's wavelets processing is much better than I have heretofore appreciated, so I spent some time last night and more today finding my way around those options in that program. I don't think my TopazAI images show anything that wavelets processing can't, but they do show many of those things more vividly and a helluva lot more easily, and I do like the tones Topaz outputs. Nevertheless, let's see if the standard suite of known-good software can get the job done on astronomical images, at least until More Is Known.

Here are three treatments of an image of a nice C-class flare from 08/23/2021 refined in AutoStakkert!3 from the best 200 out of 1,000 frames. I finished the first using TopazAI, the second using Registax, the third using PixInsight. All have been through Photoshop for noise and tone adjustments.














My deep-sky photos are made with a variety of sensors and optics. Deepest images come now from a ZWO ASI1600MM Cooled Pro CMOS camera, an ASIair (model 1) and sometimes one of several laptops. A good many images come from an unmodded Canon 6D but a lot more will be coming from an R6. Video and video extracts begin in a Canon EOS M, usually running in crop mode via Magic Lantern firmware (but the 6D and especially the R6 will probably see more use). Telescopes include an AT10RC, an Orion 10" F4 Newtonian, and a pair of apochromats: a TMB92SS and a AT65EDQ. A very early Astro-Physics 5" F6 gets some use, too. So do lots of camera lenses on both the ASI1600 and on the Canons. A solar Frankenscope made using a 90mm F10 Orion achromat and the etalon, relay optics, and focuser from a Lunt 60 feeding a small ZWO camera will see more action as the Sun comes back to life (Autostakkart!3 is my current fav for image stacking). Mounts include an iOpton SkyTracker (original model), a bargain LXD-55, a Losmandy G11 (492 Digital Drive), and an Astro-Physics Mach1. PixInsight does most of the heavy lifting; Photoshop polishes. Some of the toys are more or less permanently based in New Mexico. I desperately hope to get back soon.


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                   © 2021, David Cortner