Thursday, January 01, 2009

Michael A. Phillips' Planetary Processing Routine v7


    1. Introduction

    2. This is by no means a replacement to the tutorials I learned the most from such as Mike Salway's ( or Paul Haese's ( I am simply tuning, tweaking and automating some of the steps to suit my own taste and hope you find some ideas here to use for yourself!

    1. Living document, I do plan in incorporating changes and suggestions over time and will reversion and date accordingly so please send feedback. Please critique, that's how we all get better!

    1. All the routines in this HowTo use applications running on Linux, even the windows only software packages run under Wine ( running under Linux. All of the video screencasts are recorded and produced using applications running on Linux. I am confident that all software and processes detailed in this HowTo can be run on MS Windows with one exception. The capture software I use, Coriander, will run only on Linux. Even some of the bash scripts may be run under Cygwin ( although I've not tried myself. Never fear, the main method of this HowTo still applies to users running on MS Windows.


      1. Run your Planetary captures through ninox (

      1. Move ninox sorted data through Registax

      1. Move Registax stacked data to Iris for RGB Combine and processing.

          Video Tutorials:

    1. Acquisition

      1. My equipment consists of

        1. I use a Celestron C8i SE (orange tube)

        2. Ubuntu 8.04 Linux and custom coriander (for firewire cameras)

        3. DMK 21AF04 (Firewire)

        4. 2.5x PowerMate

        5. Astronomik LRGB filters

        6. True Tek Color Filter Wheel with visu diag and PC serial cable (USB-to-Serial)

        7. some shots here:

      1. Once everything is connected up I follow the 'custom coriander 1.0.0' modified by Anthony Wesley (aka Bird - ). This document is a work in progress and you may email me for a preview!

      2. After completing your captures you may move onto the next section that moves data from 'transit' to 'sorted'. It is important to note that this coriander outputs a static image stream not a .avi or video file. This saves me a step extracting the movie to images later on!

    1. Ninox

      1. I prepare all captured source images that are really .fit files by passing it through ninox ( to sort and crop the images and then output to a new subdirectory called 'sorted' The full script is a bash script and can be found here:


        1. I'm working on a newer version of this script that will read the capture directories and use them to create all the sorted, ninox folders. Per these guidelines ( When done I will revise this blog per v7.1 :)

      3. The key ninox syntax is:

        1. ninox -width=300 -height=300 -cutx=300 -cuty=300 -qestimator -qrenumber -outdir=Astronomy/Sorted/2-Scratch/Jupiter-$1/$2 /Astronomy/Transit/1-Corianders/$1/$2

          • This, “-width=300 -height=300 -cutx=300 -cuty=300” crops the images to a square 300x300 pixel size

          • This “-qestimator -qrenumber” sorts the data and renumbers the images based on quality

          • This “-outdir=Astronomy/Sorted/2-Scratch/Jupiter-$1/$2 /Astronomy/Transit/1-Corianders/$1/$2” allows me to specify a new folder in a sorted (not transit) folder for safer keeping. The $1 and $2 are the arguments passed to the script at runtime in which $1 is the ISO date that coriander writes ( IE 20081122) and $2 is the UTC time (IE 001122UTC).

    1. Registax

      • NOTE at as of 2008.12.12 - I was unable to get AviStack to load the .fit files that I work with. A shame too as the batch mode looks VERY promising!

      1. Double Click for widescreen video or press the links below

        1. Widescreen version on YouTube is here -

        2. Full Resolution AVI (DivX 1280 x 768) version can be found here -

      2. Drag & Drop into Registax

      3. Switch align mode from “Default (single)” to none. No align, no reference.

        1. Locate a good cutoff point by moving the frame slider at the bottom left and right. Good frames are on the left and bad frames on the right. For example I typically stack the good frames on the 'left', typically 500 of the total 1500.

        2. Now hit the limit button to trim out the bad frames on the 'right' that will not be stacked.

      4. Notice that after hitting the limit button you will skip the Optimize tab and go directly to the stack tab. At the stack tab simply hit the stack button. Ninox has already sorted and aligned the data so there is no reason to have registax do it again. Some folks believe that ninox's alignment is actually better and or more efficient than registax's.

      5. After stacking you are at the wavelet phase. I typically apply 3 schemes much like a Small, Medium and Large drink sizing.

        1. No wavelets or a raw stack. This is my small wavelets scheme, denoted as R0.tif (Where R is the color, like R,G or B)

        2. Mike Salway's scheme ( This is my medium wavelets scheme, denoted as R7.tif

          • 3 @ 10.5, 4 @ 15.2, 5 @ 16.5.

        3. And something I call Ice 150% Which is basically about 50% more than the medium scheme listed above. This is my v7 (large) wavelets scheme, denoted as R71.tif

          • 3 @ 15.2, 4 @ 22.6, 5 @ 24.6.

      1. Net net is that you've got to find a sweet spot for your optics, conditions and taste.

      2. If you save the files to the hhmmssUTC name (Up one folder when hitting the save button and has the numbered filter subdirectories under it), with the x7.tif filenames then you can use this bash script ( to slide the Registax files into Iris and back again in a pretty cool manner. When using this script, first verify the directory locations agree with your Registax and Iris working directories. This step is an optimization when working with many files and not completely necessary, as you can move the files manually.

    1. RGB combining in Iris.

      1. Download Iris ( and set the Iris scripts and working path locations.

        1. File → Settings:

        1. File Type to PIC

        2. Working Folder → “YOUR FOLDER” (such as C:\astronomy\temp\irisscratch 2000-01-01\)

      1. Loading a test file, File → Open. Find a file processed in Registax .tif format

      2. Load each channel into Iris

        1. Adjust visu levels via the thresholds

          • Move the top slider right towards 30,000+

        2. Set mono

        1. adjust wavelets (slight)

          • Processing → Wavelet...

        2. Save as new, R7.PIC in Iris' Working Folder location (C:\astronomy\temp\irisscratch 2000-01-01\)

      1. Iris LRGB (trichro) function to assemble as RGB

        1. View LRGB and set channels to:

          • Red: R7

          • Green: G7

          • Blue: B7

        2. APPLY! COOL!

        3. The section with video below details how to fine tune the alignment of the channels.

      2. Now lets look at how to automate this

        1. PART 1 Introduction

        2. PART 2 RGB Combine Options

        3. PART 3 Post Processing Options

        4. Set the Iris scripts and working path locations.

          • File → Settings:

          • File Type to PIC

          • Script Path → “YOUR FOLDER” (such as C:\astronomy\permanent\scripts\iris\)

          • Place the planet.pgm ( file here C:\astronomy\permanent\scripts\iris\

          • Working Folder → “YOUR FOLDER” (such as C:\astronomy\temp\irisscratch 2000-01-01\)

          • Copy the file names R7.tif (Red Channel), G7.tif (Green Channel) and B7.tif (Blue Channel) to the Iris “Working Path” folder

        1. Bring up an Iris command prompt by clicking this button

        1. Now type the command, “run planet” VIOLA!!!

      1. Fine tuning of the separate RGB channel alignment:

        1. View LRGB and set channels to:

          • Red: R7

          • Green: G7

          • Blue: B7

        2. Apply

        3. Now set the step to 10

        4. Set the channel you wish to move via the radio button

        1. Use the arrows in the upper right to move the channel around relative to the other channels.

        2. Change the Step value to something smaller or larger based on your needs

        3. When done, click OK

        4. Save as the format you like.

    1. Processing in Iris

      1. Wavelets

        1. Processing → Wavelets...

        2. Typically I apply a very small scheme such as....

      1. Unsharp mask

        1. Processing → Unsharp Mask

        2. This can make the data over processed quickly so be careful. You will have an opportunity to remove noise or oversharpening in the next step

      1. Blur

        1. Processing → Blur Filter...

        2. Sometimes I add the full amount in the 1st run and have to run it again iteratively.

      1. Iris resize and or final visu levels - save as .bmp for sending to gimp (anyone know any gimp/iris compatible formats, let me know!) and .jpg for web

      2. There is a great whitebalance option available by using the mouse to select a portion of the image that 'should be' white. Then in the command window type 'white'. You may also tweak via the "View -> White Balance Adjustment". The same can be done for setting a black background. The video shows this well!

        1. I have another Iris script that runs here to save as a variety of formats. These then get picked up by the bash script waiting for us. The data then returns to the 4-TempStacked folder.

          • Run iris7 (savejpg “name” 1) etc...


      MS Windows Addendum:

    Carried forward from my v5 routine.

        Batch .avi to .bmp conversion:

    Use VirtualDub to convert/extract the .avi video to .bmp still images:

    Download script here for windows:

    Load job in Vdub

    Now back to Ninox Sorting in section 3

    all the Red, Green and Blue files are mixed in the same directory. Here's an example script to sort into subdirectories. My IC Capture filenames might not match yours, but have a look.

    Sort by rgb capture via bash script

    Bash script that sorts LRGB image series into sub-folders for organization and processing -

    To be honest, I hate looking at the script now to figure out how to explain what it does.

    I recall chaning directories into the mess of RGB files and running this with the variables described in the top of the script!


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