Deep Sky Stacker: Enhance your Deep-Sky Pictures!

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Deep Sky Stacker is absolutely free. How can it help you with your astrophotography? Let’s find out.

If you want to photograph deep-sky objects, you have a big challenge ahead. Take one long exposure photo, and you’ll see a lot of noise and not much signal. In other words, a pretty poor image. How do you fix this?

The answer is to take many photographs and then stack the images together. This is where Deep Sky Stacker comes in. DSS will stack images for you and allow you to do some quick processing and editing before you move into your image editing software.

In this post, we’ll explore how you can utilise the Deep Sky Stacker program to produce stunning astrophotos with remarkable detail, using your DSLR camera and Adobe Photoshop. Take a look at the image below for an example of what you can achieve.

Black Eye Galaxy image such an image can be created in deep sky stacker

The above image is of the Black Eye Galaxy. This was created from more than 300 images stacked together.

What is Deep Sky Stacker?

Deep Sky Stacker Logo

DeepSkyStacker is one of the most popular stacking tools that astrophotographers use for astrophotography. It doesn’t cost anything and can sort your images taken with a DSLR camera and rank them in order of quality. After stacking, it allows you to make some adjustments using Adobe Photoshop and stretch the image if you wish. There are many other features related to imaging that we will come to shortly. Best of all, DSS is easy to use and quite quick to run.

In addition to what we have said above, this stacking software enables you to do the following: support windows, panel processing.

  • Align your images
  • Stack images together so that noise is reduced
  • Use your calibration frames as you stack (dark, bias, and flat frames).
  • Make it possible to create a clear image by stacking shorter exposures.

Deep Sky Stacker (DSS) is not the only program that does astrophotography stacking. For example, I also like Siril, a free program similar to DSS that offers features like tags, DSLR support, and a stacking panel.

If you were to manually process imaging using a DSLR on Windows, it would be both difficult and time-consuming. However, with DSS, these steps become easier and more accurate.

How does DSS work?

Now that you know how useful a program like DSS is for Windows, let’s look at how it works for image display. DSS is a panel that works well with DSLR cameras.

First, astrophotography software aligns your images by matching the stars in your picture. It works out how each light frame has moved from a reference frame. Once it has done this, it places each frame captured by DSLR cameras perfectly on top of the others and averages out the image. This process of averaging increases the signal-to-noise ratio. Both the noise and the signal become clearer. This increase in signal-to-noise ratio enables the details of your object to be revealed in your final astrophotography image.

The improvement in signal-to-noise ratio increases with the number of pictures you take, as follows:

The signal-to-noise ratio of DSLR cameras for astrophotography increases proportionally to the square root of the number of images, making processing more effective.

In other words, taking 100 photos with DSLR cameras would increase the signal-to-noise ratio for astrophotography images by 10 times.

Taking 50 astrophotography photos with a DSLR camera increases the signal-to-noise ratio by 7 times. Just 10 images will improve it by three times. In other words, the more images you take, the better your final astrophoto with enhanced light will be.

It’s also a good idea to dither while you are imaging. Dithering moves each frame slightly enabling DSS to average out any noise which is present over the signal. This is especially helpful with walking noise which affected my images badly.

Taking calibration frames also helps. Bias and dark frames can be subtracted from the image to remove noise created by your camera and the temperature of the sensor. Flat frames can remove dust and stray light from your optics by subtracting this from your images.

I’m going to run through the steps you can follow to get the most out of the program on Windows. These steps will help you optimize processing and time settings.

  • Install the software from this site
  • Open up your images in by clicking on Open Picture Files
  • Add your calibration frames
  • Register the images by checking them all and clicking register images.
  • In the register settings tab, you need to set the star detection level so it detects enough stars.
  • Check all your settings. Get help with these settings and learn how to set everything up.
  • Stack the images
  • Use the software to do some processing if you want, or go to your processing software. I use Photoshop for this, but you can use an alternative such as Gimp (free) or Pixinsight (paid).
DSS screenshot

That’s basically all there is to using Deep Sky Stacker for astrophotography to stack your camera images. If you need more information on how to use the program, click the above link to get help with these settings.

I compared several sky stacking programs for digital SLR and DSLR cameras and found that deepskystacker (DSS) was one of the best in terms of processing results. It was also easy to use. I also had a positive experience with Siril, without any complaints. However, I did encounter some difficulties with the deep sky stacker star detection threshold, which I now realize was likely due to my inexperience and the image quality, rather than the program itself.

This video is a good Deep Sky Stacker tutorial in ten simple steps. Enjoy!

Tips for getting the best results with DSS

These are a few essential tips to make sure you use the settings of the software to get the most out of it. Make sure to use images in your content to enhance its visual appeal. With a bit of attention to these details, you can optimize your experience with the software.

  • Check that a sufficient number of stars are detected in your images. These are used to align the images properly.
  • Make sure you shoot your pictures of deep-sky targets in RAW or FITS format, depending on your camera’s output.
  • Your final stacked image should be saved as a.tif or.fits file. These file types contain more information and are best for further processing.
  • Use the automated calibration feature, which produces the best image with the least amount of noise.

I hope that you now know how Deep Sky Stacker, a popular choice for astrophotographers, can help you stack your astrophotos. Stacking is a process that all astrophotographers need to use, so why not try using this reliable software? I have had some issues with Deep Sky Stacker, but it is easy to find bug fixes and solutions online because of its large user base.

Good luck with your images! I’d love to get your comments below, especially if you have any advice or suggestions on how best to use this deepskystacker program.