The Window Sill Observatory

August 6, 2011

Making a Zoomit Solar or Lunar Mosaic

Filed under: Software, Tutorials — Dave @ 12:55 pm

This tutorial shows how to create a lunar or solar mosaic and display it as a Zoom.it interactive image like this or that.

Step 1 – Capture Videos

Use DSSR’s mosaic capture function to automatically control your scope and camera to record a series of overlapping video clips. Each clip will be timestamped with the start time of the mosaic together with its position (row, column) in the mosaic. You should adjust your camera’s exposure settings so that the brightest feature is not burnt out. Do this by right-clicking on the Camera button and turning off automatic exposure. Then adjust your camera’s settings to suit the brightest feature.

Step 2 – Process Videos

Sort through the videos and discard any which have no details on them. For example, the corner videos may only show blank sky.

Open AviStack and load all the videos you want to process. Change post processing to manual and select the minimum area option for the saved image. I use PNG format for my saved images because it is lossless compression.

Choose a representative video and click Process File. Change the post processing settings to suit your image and then press cancel. These parameters will now be used for all videos. Now select all videos and click Batch Processing. AviStack will work through your videos to produce a set of FITS and PNG images. You can re-process your FITS files if you are unhappy with your PNGs.

AviStack sometimes leaves a bright border around the processed images which may spoil your mosaic. You can remove these borders in DVS by loading the images, skipping Align and going straight to cropping and export as PNG image sequence.

Step 3 – Create Mosaic Image

Open Microsoft Image Composite Editor (see links at right) and click File.New panorama. Choose the images that you want to include in your panorama and click Open. ICE will then stitch all your images into a single mosaic image.

Adjust the crop handles around your mosaic to get rid of any jagged edges and select the export format as PNG (because it  is lossless). Click Export to disk and choose where you want to save your mosaic.

There is an option in bottom left called Camera motion. Planar motion 3 is the one to choose for astro mosaics. However, if your mosaic has glitches you can try one of the other camera motions.

Step 4 – Upload to Zoom.it

Zoom.it is a free Microsoft hosting site where you can display your mosaics. It works best in MS Internet Explorer and lets your users pan and zoom around your images.

First, upload your mosaic image to the web and copy its URL to your clipboard. Next, go to Zoom.it (see links at right) and paste the URL into the box to the left of the Create button. Click Create and Zoom.it will immediately give you the new URL of your zoomable image. Take a careful note of this URL because I don’t think there is any way to retrieve it later.

You can use your URL like this http://zoom.it/lpvT or add #full to the URL like this http://zoom.it/lpvT#full to open it in the full window. Click F11 in Internet Explorer to see true full screen (you may need to disable your status bar in IE).

ps, I know there is a glitch in this solar mosaic. However, as any rug maker will tell you, perfection is blasphemy.

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