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- Jack Audio
Take the audio output of one piece of software and send it to another. JackAudio is a virtual audio software cable that run on Windows Linux and MacOS and if Free to download and to use.
- Grig Radio Control
Grig is a freeware simple Ham Radio control (CAT) program based on the Ham Radio Control Libraries (Hamlib). It is intended to be highly generic presenting the user to the same graphical user interface regardless of which radio is being controlled.Grig supports the most commonly used CAT commands that are implemented by Hamlib, and integrates well with other ham radio programs like Xlog and gMFSK.Grig has been developed on Linux, but has been ported on Mac and Windows OS.
- Radio Explorer
Graphic viewer for shortwave broadcasting and programming schedules. Supports viewing schedules in an expanding table and on a 24-hour Gantt chart using the local time and the UTC time display modes. Runs on multiple platforms.
Xastir is program for receiving and plotting APRS position packets. Development is a collaborative effort of programmers and amateur radio enthusiasts from around the world. Xastir supports many map formats and is highly customizable.Xastir runs on Windows/MacOSX/Linux/FreeBSD/Solaris/Lindows. It supports 125 map formats, several types of TNC's and weather stations, Festival speech synthesizer, AX.25 networking (Soundmodem/Baycom/SCC!) and seven languages!.
Digital modes decoding software for the macintosh. Decodes CW, RTTY, WEFAX, SATFAX, ACARS, DTMF, SSTV
Fldigi Freeware Digital multi mode program for Linux, Free-BSD, MacOS X and MS Windows . Support CW and several digital modes like PSK31, MFSK, RTTY, Olivia, WeFax, Hell and others and is a fully multi platform application
jLog is a modern Freeware Ham Log program that can run on all major platforms, e.g. Mac OS X, Mac OS, Linux/Unix, Windows, etc. It offers a nice, clean interface and allows efficient entry of QSOs.Import or Export of data using the standardized ADIF 2 format is possible to easily exchange data with any other decent Log program.Built-in CW Keyer, CAT control for many popular, rigs, DX Cluster tracking, call lookups
Satscape is a freeware program for the PC Macintosh and Linux. It produces real-time displays of where any Satellite is, and predicts passes for your locale. There are about 8000+ satellites in orbit, a lot of these are just junk and debris such as discarded rocket bodies, but quite a few are working Satellites.
CHIRP is a cross-platform, cross-radio programming tool. It works on Windows and Linux and MacOSX. It can program many popular radios and exchange data between them includin Icom Kenwood Yaesu Alinco Wouxun Puxing Baofeng
- Visual Moon Tracking
Java moon tracking software runs on LINUX, Win 98, Win NT, UNIX, OSF, MacOSX
Radio control software for the Macintosh
- iSpectrum Analyzer
Macintosh audio spectrum analyzer that allows the user to view live audio in a standard frequency plot, a stereo oscilloscope view and a waterfall display
- DX ToolBox
DX Toolbox searches the web for you, gathering information on solar and geomagnetic conditions that affect radio propagation. It's ideal for the ham radio operator, shortwave listener, or other radio enthusiast.
MacTNC is simple, configurable terminal software used by amateur (ham) radio operators to control a TNC (terminal node controller). MacTNC performs most of the same functions of other terminal software, but includes buttons for standard commands, and allows the user to configure additional buttons for special purposes. MacTNC works only user Mac OS X because it relies on Unix components of the current operating system.
- Mac Antenna Master
Dipole, Yagi, Vertical, Cubic quad, Log periodic, J-pole, coil, and transmission line design package for the Macintosh
- Macintosh SSTV Shareware
SSTV software is now available for the Macintosh computers, for the first time.
DarwinPsk is free to licensed ham radio operators and is a great application for PSK and RTTY communications under MacOSX
- 10 QSO Logger- Ten-Ten International QSO parties logging program multi plaform run with Java under Windowd Linux MacOSX
- Aether- Aether is an ham radio logging for the Mac. Aether gives hams logging software that is as powerful, easy to use, and good looking as the operating system it runs on.Designed from the ground-up using Apple’s Cocoa, Aether supports the latest Mac OS X technologies, and provides the experience that Mac users expect.[ Hits: 2762 Votes: 10 Rating: 8 ]
- Amadeus - Sound Recorder- Amadeus is a very powerful sound recorder and editor for Apple MacOS. Available in Lite and Pro version, is intuitive and a support many sound formats.
- Audacity- Audacity is a free, easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. The interface is translated into many languages.[ Hits: 577 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 ]
- Audiocoreder- Audiocorder is a VOX program which allows your Macintosh to act as an audio recorder
- AudioXplorer- AudioXplorer is a sound analyzer software designed for Mac OSX, provide a real-time analysis window where you can visualize the sound spectrum and sonogram[ Hits: 402 Votes: 1 Rating: 9 ]
- Beam Aim- Draws a world map centered on your QTH. Type in a DX station's call sign to get the beam aim azimuth and distance to the station.
- Black Cat CW Keyer- Black Cat CW Keyer for Macintosh lets you send morse code from your computer. You can type out the text to be sent (immediately or buffered) as well as create and send from one key[ Hits: 3257 Votes: 5 Rating: 6.4 ]
- Cab-converter- A freeware apple Macintosh-based program that helps amateur radio contesters by converting a log from a radio contest into the Cabrillo file format which may be submitted to the contest sponsor.
- CHIRP- CHIRP is a cross-platform, cross-radio programming tool. It works on Windows and Linux and MacOSX. It can program many popular radios and exchange data between them includin Icom Kenwood Yaesu Alinco Wouxun Puxing Baofeng[ Hits: 11073 Votes: 30 Rating: 7.24 ]
- cocoaModem- CocoaModem is an opensource MacOSX application which implements modems (modulator-demodulators) for RTTY PSK MFSK Hellschreiber CW SITOR HF-FAX provided by W7AY
- cocoaNEC- cocoaNEC 2.0 is an opensource Mac OS X application intended primarily for the design and modeling of antennas by Kok Chen, W7AY[ Hits: 1480 Votes: 3 Rating: 10 ]
- CubicSDR- CubicSDR is a free SDR receiver which is based on the liquid-dsp libraries. Run under Linux, Windows and Mac OS X
- CuteSDR- CuteSDR Open-Source application forMacOSX , Linux, and Windows designed to run with RFSPace SDR receiver[ Hits: 4523 Votes: 3 Rating: 6.67 ]
- Darkice- DarkIce is a live audio streamer. It records audio from an audio interface (e.g. sound card), encodes it and sends it to a streaming server. Works on Linux and MacOSX
- DarwinPSK- DarwinPsk is free to licensed ham radio operators and is a great application for PSK and RTTY communications under MacOSX[ Hits: 5387 Votes: 8 Rating: 8.63 ]
- DF9CY Project Auriga- PA is a JAVA software package containing several programs, SW/VHF/UHF Logbook (imports format from RADIOMAN, VMT), Log conversion to HTML format,Import and export functions for RADIOMAN, CT RES files, BV QSL Labels, CSV etc.Internet DX-Cluster support, Keeps track of your worked Callsigns, Checks your worked Grid Squares per band, Databases for worked Grids and CallsignsUses K1EA CQWW.CTY country file,Easy command line version for terminal operationMoontracking as clock, Pathloss calculation
- dogparkSDR- dogparkSDR is a native Macintosh visual radio display and interactive control software for any Flex Radio Systems[ Hits: 510 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 ]
- DX ToolBox- DX Toolbox searches the web for you, gathering information on solar and geomagnetic conditions that affect radio propagation. It's ideal for the ham radio operator, shortwave listener, or other radio enthusiast.
- EchoMac- EchoMac is a client program for OS X that allows connection to the Echolink system[ Hits: 1093 Votes: 2 Rating: 5.5 ]
- EchoMac - Mac Ham Radio EchoLink Client- EchoMac is an apple macintosh client for EchoLink internet radio network.
- Elmer- Macintosh shareware, contains the full pool of questions for each of the five exams, and creates sample tests that will vary each time you take them and it will grade your exam.[ Hits: 1098 Votes: 2 Rating: 8 ]
- Fast Morse- Macintosh morse code software, Fast Morse will convert any text you enter into the original Morse code equivalent, and play it on your speakers. The speed can be adjusted to anything from 1 to 35 words per minute if your computer can keep up, allowing you to send Morse signals at a rate your friends and fellow Morse enthusiasts can follow!
- FKeyer- Application for the Apple Macintosh computer that provides a CW contesting interface for the popular MacLoggerDX loggging software. FKeyer runs on MacOS X and uses an external keyer such as the MicroHam CW keyer.[ Hits: 984 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 ]
- Fldigi- Fldigi Freeware Digital multi mode program for Linux, Free-BSD, MacOS X and MS Windows . Support CW and several digital modes like PSK31, MFSK, RTTY, Olivia, WeFax, Hell and others and is a fully multi platform application
- GQRX- GQRX is a free and simple to use SDR receiver which runs on Linux and MacOS X. GQRX comes with a standard FFT spectrum and waterfall display and a number of common filter settings[ Hits: 839 Votes: 1 Rating: 1 ]
- GQRX for MacOS- OSX port of the awesome gqrx SDR software
- Grig Radio Control- Grig is a freeware simple Ham Radio control (CAT) program based on the Ham Radio Control Libraries (Hamlib). It is intended to be highly generic presenting the user to the same graphical user interface regardless of which radio is being controlled.Grig supports the most commonly used CAT commands that are implemented by Hamlib, and integrates well with other ham radio programs like Xlog and gMFSK.Grig has been developed on Linux, but has been ported on Mac and Windows OS.[ Hits: 23900 Votes: 14 Rating: 5.93 ]
- HourWorld World Clock- HourWorld is a program with rich graphics that can show you what time it is in a certain part of the world, and well as demonstrate what is actually looks like over the globe.
- iSpectrum- iSpectrum is a free spectrum analyzer for MacOS that allows you to display live audio in a standard frequency plot, waterfall display or in a stereo oscilloscope view. Used by ham radio operators, audiofiles, musicians, and Sound Technicians.[ Hits: 622 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 ]
- iSpectrum Analyzer- Macintosh audio spectrum analyzer that allows the user to view live audio in a standard frequency plot, a stereo oscilloscope view and a waterfall display
- Jack Audiopop- Take the audio output of one piece of software and send it to another. JackAudio is a virtual audio software cable that run on Windows Linux and MacOS and if Free to download and to use.[ Hits: 32527 Votes: 44 Rating: 7.71 ]
- jLog- jLog is a modern Freeware Ham Log program that can run on all major platforms, e.g. Mac OS X, Mac OS, Linux/Unix, Windows, etc. It offers a nice, clean interface and allows efficient entry of QSOs.Import or Export of data using the standardized ADIF 2 format is possible to easily exchange data with any other decent Log program.Built-in CW Keyer, CAT control for many popular, rigs, DX Cluster tracking, call lookups
- JTDX- JTDX is a multimode software for amateur radio. Means JT & T modes for DXing, it is being developed with main focus on the sensitivity and decoding efficiency, both, in overcrowded and half empty HF band conditions.Support JT9, JT65, T10 and FT8 is released unde GNU licence, by UA3DJY and ES1JA. Run under Windows and Linux.[ Hits: 959 Votes: 1 Rating: 9 ]
- Mac Antenna Master- Dipole, Yagi, Vertical, Cubic quad, Log periodic, J-pole, coil, and transmission line design package for the Macintosh
- Mac GrayLiner- Displays map of the world, showing day and night areas.[ Hits: 2839 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 ]
- Mac Memory Manager- Amateur Radio Memory Manager Software for the Mac support many Yaesu Icom AOR and Kenwood radios
- Mac the Scope- Mac the Scope is a professional quality signal analyzer, 1/3 octave RTA, signal generator, and more.[ Hits: 679 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 ]
- MacAPRS- Macintosh automatic position reporting system, developed by Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, to track boats and vehicles using GPS and packet radio. MacAPRS was written by Keith Sproul, WU2Z and Mark Sproul, KB2ICI
- MacDoppler- MacDoppler and MacDopplerPRO 3D satellite tracking and station automation software for Macintosh by Dog Park Software Ltd.[ Hits: 1784 Votes: 16 Rating: 7.5 ]
- MacDSP- Digital filter for Macintosh computers with a PowerPC processor
- MacGPS Pro- Mapping software which links a Garmin GPS receiver to your Macintosh. Includes Maidenhead grid squares and beam-pointing maps.[ Hits: 1860 Votes: 8 Rating: 8.37 ]
- MacIcomControl- Radio control software for the Macintosh
- Macintosh SSTV Shareware- SSTV software is now available for the Macintosh computers, for the first time.[ Hits: 5596 Votes: 35 Rating: 6.8 ]
- MacK2- A Remote Control Program for the Elecraft K2 Amateur Radio Transceiver using the Apple Macintosh
- MacLoggerDX- While you are enjoying your favourite scheduled SWL program, DX Net, or W1AW Bulletin, MacLoggerDX is combing the internet looking for the latest Hot DX Spot[ Hits: 2292 Votes: 8 Rating: 6.5 ]
- MacPacSat- allows a Macintosh computer to communicate via packet radio with the amateur packet satellites currently in operation using the 'PACSAT' protocols
- Macpcr- Icom PCR1000 driving program for Mac available at yahoo groups, login required.[ Hits: 2580 Votes: 4 Rating: 7.25 ]
- MacProp- Propagation forecasting software for the Macintosh
- MacSchedKeeper- Macintosh Rig Control for Kenwood TS-50[ Hits: 875 Votes: 1 Rating: 1 ]
- MacTNC- MacTNC is simple, configurable terminal software used by amateur (ham) radio operators to control a TNC (terminal node controller). MacTNC performs most of the same functions of other terminal software, but includes buttons for standard commands, and allows the user to configure additional buttons for special purposes. MacTNC works only user Mac OS X because it relies on Unix components of the current operating system.
- MoonSked- Moon tracking for Mac Windows and Linux for EME by GM4JJJ[ Hits: 1490 Votes: 3 Rating: 8.67 ]
- Morse Machine for MacOSX- This free program teaches you to receive Morse code. It starts with a few letters and adds more when it sees that you are ready. Based on A Fully Automatic Morse Code Teaching Machine, it is a small application and it runs even on recent MacOSX versions.
- Morse Mania- A morse code tutor for the Macintosh.[ Hits: 2100 Votes: 3 Rating: 8 ]
- Morse Runner on MacOS- Run Morse Runner on Apple MacOSX computers using Wineskin. Morse Runner is a popular MS Windows morse code contest simulator. You can do this by yourself or just download the ready-made dmg and use it on your apple mac.
- MultiMode- Digital modes decoding software for the macintosh. Decodes CW, RTTY, WEFAX, SATFAX, ACARS, DTMF, SSTV[ Hits: 17423 Votes: 19 Rating: 4.44 ]
- MULTISCAN 3B SSTV for Apple MacOS- SSTV on Mac is possible using MultiScan 3 B is an application for Ham Radio Slow Scan TV (SSTV) Communications. It is build to run on Mac OS X 10.6 or later versions. MultiScan 3B can transmit and receive pictures in the following formats (modes):Robot black Robot Color Socttie Martin, PD Modes:P Modes: P3, P5 and P7 AVT All modes can be send/received in regular, narrow, QRM and narrow+QRM modes
- Osmond PCB- Printed circuit board design for Macintosh[ Hits: 310 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 ]
- phpHamLog- Amateur radio open source log program written in PHP. Put your log online for visitors to browse in real time. Access your log from any web browse, can run under windows linux and macos with apache, mysql and php
- PocketPacket Mac OS- PocketPacket started as an APRS client for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad devices, but is also available for the Mac desktop or laptop. PocketPacket incorporates a software-based TNC, allowing you to directly capture and visualize, or encode and transmit 1200 baud packets (AFSK modulation) using a VHF radio transceiver.[ Hits: 920 Votes: 2 Rating: 7.5 ]
- Promethius- Logbook software for the Macintosh by Chris Smolinski
- QRQ CW trainer- qrq is an open source Morse telegraphy trainer which runs on several operating systems (Linux, Unix, OS X and Windows), similar to the classic DOS version of Rufz by DL4MM.[ Hits: 1383 Votes: 1 Rating: 1 ]
- QST Browser- A Mac OS X application for searching and viewing the back issues of periodicals that are published by the ARRL in CD-ROM format.
- Radio Explorer- Graphic viewer for shortwave broadcasting and programming schedules. Supports viewing schedules in an expanding table and on a 24-hour Gantt chart using the local time and the UTC time display modes. Runs on multiple platforms.[ Hits: 19786 Votes: 61 Rating: 7.86 ]
- RF Toolbox- A MacOSX antenna design and electronics/electrical tool package. It is a multipourpose application that allow antenna design and comomn calculations
- RUMLog- RUMlog is a fully featured general ham radio logbook program, with contest logging capability and QSL handling/printing tool for MacOSX.RUMlog is free to download and can interface with most popular Icom Elecraft Yaesu Kenwood Transceiver, and CW keyers. Offer mapping, Dx cluster, check, import export, and many functions commonly available on most popular logbook programs.[ Hits: 1194 Votes: 1 Rating: 10 ]
- RUMtrol7000- Windows and MacOS programming software for the ICOM IC-7000
- RUMtrol746PRO- This program is used for the ICOM IC-746PRO, IC-7400.You can edit all the setting and write it to file for later use. Runs on Windows Linux and MacOSx[ Hits: 1120 Votes: 2 Rating: 1 ]
- Satscape- Satscape is a freeware program for the PC Macintosh and Linux. It produces real-time displays of where any Satellite is, and predicts passes for your locale. There are about 8000+ satellites in orbit, a lot of these are just junk and debris such as discarded rocket bodies, but quite a few are working Satellites.
- SCR-Log- Scr-log freeware logging program for mac, windows, linux and dos. designed for school, club, and individual class stations to use during school club roundup.[ Hits: 1358 Votes: 5 Rating: 10 ]
- SkookumLogger- SkookumLogger is a free contest logging program for Mac OS X 10.7 or later, supporting CW and SSB events on the six HF contest bands plus 6m, 4m, 2m, and 70cm
- SoundFlower- Soundflower is a Mac OS X (10.2 and later) system extension that allows applications to pass audio to other applications. Soundflower is easy to use, it simply presents itself as an audio device, allowing any audio application to send and receive audio with no other support needed. Soundflower is free.[ Hits: 2802 Votes: 4 Rating: 7 ]
- Spek- Spek helps to analyse your audio files by showing their spectrogram.Spek supports all popular lossy and lossless audio file formats. Spek is free software available for Unix, Windows and Mac OS X.
- The KB6IBB Utilities- Ham radio frequency list consolidation software.The Ham Radio database can house a unlimited number of records. Holding frequency information from DC to Daylight. The Radio Scanner Database is designed to emulate a radio scanner. A 5,000 record table is provided and is organized by channel number.[ Hits: 934 Votes: 1 Rating: 7 ]
- Time Palette- World Time and Mapping software including Azimuthal Maps.
- TK5 for IC-R5- Open source software designed for the ICOM IC-R5 receiver. Linux, MacOS X and Windows[ Hits: 1044 Votes: 3 Rating: 4.67 ]
- Trusted QSL- Open source libraries and utilities to support using digital signatures for Amateur radio QSL system information like eqsl and lotw. Available for windows macos e linux.
- Visual Moon Tracking- Java moon tracking software runs on LINUX, Win 98, Win NT, UNIX, OSF, MacOSX[ Hits: 9430 Votes: 42 Rating: 5.95 ]
- Waavebox- MacOSX real-time precision signal / waveform generator. Uses native Mac sound Out capabilities.
- WiNRADiO for Mac- WiNRADiO for Mac, WiNRADiO provides Apple Macintosh support for our most popular receiver, the WR-1550e, a medium-range external receiver with frequency range 150 kHz to 1.5 GHz[ Hits: 3082 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 ]
- Wireless Field Day Log Program- A reliable logging system for Field Day basedon wireless networking. Freeware, runs on macintosh, linux and windows
- XASTIR- Xastir is program for receiving and plotting APRS position packets. Development is a collaborative effort of programmers and amateur radio enthusiasts from around the world. Xastir supports many map formats and is highly customizable.Xastir runs on Windows/MacOSX/Linux/FreeBSD/Solaris/Lindows. It supports 125 map formats, several types of TNC's and weather stations, Festival speech synthesizer, AX.25 networking (Soundmodem/Baycom/SCC!) and seven languages!.[ Hits: 18094 Votes: 28 Rating: 6.21 ]
- Xastir- Xastir MacOSX APRS software for receiving and plotting APRS(tm) position packets. Xastir supports many map formats and is highly customizable
- xCAT xDAX for macOSX and FlexRadio 6000- xCAT is an helper application for the FlexRadio 6000 series running on macOS computers to control via CAT protocol tranceivers, while xDAX purpose is to provide a way for Digital Mode Software like Fldigi, WSJT-X to access the digital audio data (DAX) of the FlexRadioTM[ Hits: 48 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 ]
- Yea Cabrillo2Adif Converter- Cabrillo2Adif A software for converting the radio logs from Cabrillo to Adif log format (for Mac OS X)
- Yea Cabrillo2Adif Converter- Yea Cabrillo2Adif is a free software for converting the radio logs from Cabrillo to Adif log format for MacOSX[ Hits: 218 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 ]
- YeaLogger- Free ham radio logging software for Mac OS X by SM7YEA
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Astrophotography is closer to science than art, and there is no such thing as “getting it right in camera.” This means you cannot simply point the camera at the sky and snap away.
In astrophotography you cannot avoid post processing your images, so stacking and editing your images serves three main purposes:
- Reduce noise and deal with light gradients and vignetting.
- Improve signal to noise ratio.
- Reveal the faint details in the image.
Image stacking is the technique used to improve the signal to noise ratio, and it is the only noise reduction method that will boost the image details rather than smear them out.
In this article, we will discuss some of the most popular software available for astrophotography image stacking.
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Note: Don’t miss the detailed video at the end of this article, It was created to help show you how to quickly start using some of the stacking software mentioned in this article.
Click here to skip to our Image Stacking Demo Video.
What Does Stacking Photos Mean?
The concept behind image stacking is simple, but to appreciate how it works, there are a couple of things we have to consider:
- A stack can be visualized as a pile of images all stacked one on top of the other;
- Each digital image is formed by a set of pixels, all having a certain value: dark pixels will have a lower value than the bright ones;
In the simplest form of image stacking, the pixels values for all images in the stack are averaged to produce a single image.
What is the purpose of stacking photos?
The result is a single image with improved signal to noise ratio, i.e., with better details and lower (random) digital noise and better details.
The scheme below illustrates the concept.
If the considered digital noise affects the pixel values randomly across the stack, then the result of averaging the stack is that the random component of the noise to the pixel value is significantly reduced.
ISO noise and Luminance noise and Chrominancenoise are examples of digital noises that are random.
The image below shows a real-life example from stacking 30 images from my Sony RX10 bridge camera taken at ISO 6400. As you can see, the original images showed a greater deal of noise (grain) than the stacked one.
The More Images You Stack, The Better
The more images you stack, the cleaner the resulting images are, as shown in the comparison below.
While Image stacking creates a cleaner image, it often softens the image: digital sharpening techniques are then used to recover sharp looking details.
Finally, bear in mind that the progression of image quality is not linear.
If stacking 4 images improves the image quality of 50% respect what you got by stacking only 2 images, to improve a further 50% the image quality from stacking 50 images, you may need to stack 300 images or more.
Image Stacking And Movement
If nothing moves between shots, like in the previous real life example, implementing image stacking is very simple: just group the images and average them to smooth out the noise.
With a moving subject, grouping and averaging the images will not only smooth out the noise, but also the subject itself.
This is the same principle for which long exposures of passing traffic and crowd result in a street image without cars nor people.
This effect is amplified with the number of images used, and the moving subject could simply disappear from the stacked image.
To resolve the issue, you have to align the images based on their content before stacking.
Due to image alignment, you may have to trim the edges of the stacked image to get rid of artifacts, but your target will not be lost.
Note that while in theory you can stack images of a static scene taken with the camera on a tripod, in reality, those images will probably differ at the pixel scale due to micro-movements. It is always beneficial to align the images before stacking.
How To Shoot For Exposure Stacking Your Images
Image stacking can be done with any camera and even camera phones and with images in both RAW and JPEG format.
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Nonetheless, some things can be done to improve the final result:
- Lock the focus, so that the camera will not hunt for it between images. This will also help to keep the focus consistent through the shooting sequence.
- Keep the same settings, in particular shutter speed, aperture, and focal length: you don’t want to change the camera field of view during the sequence, nor the brightness of the images or the depth of field.
- If you are shooting on a tripod, disable image stabilization. If you want to shoot handheld, do so only for short sequences at very high shutter speed.
Image Stacking In Astrophotography
Related:Astrophotography Software & Tools Resource List
As said previously, image stacking is a standard technique implemented in any astrophotography editing workflow for,
- A star field from a fixed tripod.
- A deep sky object from a tracking mount.
- The Moon handheld.
- A starry landscape from a fixed tripod or tracking mount.
Every astronomy image will benefit from image stacking.
List Of Photo Stacking Software For Astrophotography
Here is a list of software used in astrophotography for image stacking.
Complete Image Editor Commercial – Subscription Plan Photography Bundle $9.99 / Month Mac OS X, Windows
- Available for Mac and Windows
- In bundle with Adobe Lightroom CC, Bridge, Camera Raw, and web space
- Many action packs and plugins available for astrophotography
- Subscription Plan only
- Can’t be used to calibrate light frames
- Stacking capabilities are somehow limited
If you are interested in photography, chances are you know Adobe Photoshop is the standard in the industry and does not need introductions.
With Adobe implementing a subscription plan for their applications, if you are using Lightroom CC for your everyday photography, your plan subscription will also include Photoshop CC and Bridge CC.
And for astrophotography, Photoshop is what you need. Lightroom cannot stack your images nor perform the histogram stretching, two crucial steps in the editing workflow for astrophotography.
In this article, we have already covered in detail how to stack astrophotography images with Photoshop.
Deep Sky And Starry Landscape Stacker Freeware Windows
- Easy to use
- Suitable for both Starry Landscapes and Deep Sky images
- Can create Star Trails
- Windows only
- Limited set of options
- Not suitable for Planetary astrophotography
Sequator is an easy-to-use and intuitive astrophotography software for stacking both starry landscape and deep-sky images. It can also be used to create star trails.
While not as advanced as other stackers, it nonetheless allows you to calibrate your light frames with dark and flat calibration frames. It also allows you to remove light pollution, reduce noise, and perform other simple tasks on the stacked image.
Starry Landscape Stacker
Starry Landscape Stacker Commercial, $39.99 Mac OS X
- Easy to use
- Mac Os X only
- Does not read RAW files
If you are into starry landscapes and you are a Mac user, Starry Landscape Stacker is a must-have.
Easy to use, it allows you to stack and align the sky and the foreground independently by letting you easily mask the sky.
Unfortunately, the software lacks the support for RAW formats, thus forcing you to convert your RAW images in the more heavy TIFF format.
Aside from that, it works very fast and the final image is of good quality. You can also save the sky only, which is useful to further edit the shot in Photoshop or similar editors.
Starry Sky Stacker
Deep Sky Stacker Commercial, $24.99 Mac OS X
- Easy to use
- Mac Os X only
- Does not read RAW files
Starry Sky Stacker is Starry Landscape Stacker brother and it has been created to stack deep sky astrophotography images.
As Starry Landscape Stacker, Starry Sky Stacker is very easy to use and intuitive, although very basic.
If you are a casual star shooter and a Mac user, this could be a good choice for you.
Deep Sky Stacker
Deep Sky Stacker Freeware Windows
- Easy to use
- Full light frames calibration
- Features Comet stack modes
- Can Drizzle
- Many advanced stack options and methods available
- Windows only
- Post-processing is quite limited
- Not suitable for Starry Landscapes nor for Planetary astrophotography
Deep Sky Stacker, better known as DSS, is arguably one of the most widely used software to calibrate and stack astrophotography images.
With DSS, you can fully calibrate your images with Darks, Flats, Dark Flats, and Bias calibration frames for the best results possible. Light frames are analyzed and scored by quality so that you can decide which percentage of best images you can stack (Best 75% by default).
A very interesting feature is that with DSS, you can easily combine images taken during different imaging sessions, to produce images of higher quality.
Planetary Stacker Freeware Windows
- Easy to use
- Suitable for Planetary, Lunar and Solar images
- Stack full planetary disk and lunar surface close-ups
- Interface a bit confused
- It does not offer wavelet sharpening
- Windows only
Autostakkert!, also known as AS!, is a very popular free software among the solar system astrophotographers. With AS! it is easy to stack both images showing the full Planetary (or Lunar or Solar) disc and images showing lunar surface close-ups.
The interface is a bit confusing, particularly in the beginning, but it is easy to navigate through the different steps for the stacking.
Unfortunately, AS! does not offer wavelet sharpening, which is a widely used technique in planetary and lunar astrophotography. For this, you can load your stacked image in Registax, another freeware software for Windows only that, sadly, is now “abandoned-ware.”
Planetary Stacker Freeware Mac OS X
- Has deconvolution and wavelet sharpening
- It is probably the only freeware planetary stacker for Mac OS X
- Not very intuitive
- Somewhat slower than Autostakkert!
Lynkeos is perhaps the only freeware planetary stacker software for Mac OS X, sparing you from turning to Windows for using Autostakkert!.
The interface is quite intuitive to navigate, but not when it comes to performing the different tasks.
On the other hand, it offers a deconvolution method and wavelet sharpening, a must-have for a planetary stacker. Definitely worth having a look at it if you are a Mac user.
Deep Sky Astrophotography Editor Freeware Mac OS X, Windows, Linux
- Active development
- A bit convoluted and not as intuitive as other stackers
SiriL is a freeware, cross-platform, astrophotography package that will let you calibrate, stack, and develop deep sky astrophotography images.
Best Video Editing Software For Mac Os X
How to use dictation mac. While not as easy and intuitive as Sequator or DSS, it offers a lot of options and produces good results. There is an active community, and it is under constant development.
Astro Pixel Processor
Deep Sky Astrophotography Editor Commercial $60/Yr Renter License Or $150 Owner License Mac OS X, Windows, Linux
- Full-grown astrophotography package
- Fairly easy to use
- Mosaics are created with ease and are of great quality
- Active and constant development
- 30-days Trial period
- Affordable yearly subscription
- Only for deep sky astrophotography
- No Comet stacking mode
download free, software For Mac Os X
With Astro Pixel Processor (APP), you step in the realm of full-grown astrophotography packages, with many advanced options and methods to calibrate, stack, and post-process your deep-sky images.
Compared to PixInsight (PI), the software benchmark for the category, APP is cheaper and way easier to use, which makes it one of the best PI alternatives.
If you decide to buy it, you can choose between the renter’s license for $60/yr, to always get the latest version of APP, or the owner’s license for $150, but you will have to purchase the license again for major update releases.
Astrophotography Editor Commercial – €230+VAT Mac OS X, Windows, Linux
- It has all you need for astrophotography
- 45 days trial period
- A lot of tutorials and information available
- Expensive and without subscription plan
- Extremely steep learning curve
- Long and convoluted process
- Needs a powerful computer
When it comes to astrophotography, PixInsight is the software of reference against which all others are measured. It offers everything you may possibly need to produce pro graded images, and it is objectively the best software in the field.
But user experience can be frustrating, as the learning curve is very steep, the editing is long and convoluted, and your computer must be quite recent and powerful to make it run smoothly.
The €230 + VAT price tag is also quite steep: sure it is worth every penny, but this makes PI be even more the software of choice for professional and keen amateur astrophotographers.
A Comprehensive Demo About Image Stacking
In this video, I show you how easy it is to wet our feet with image stacking.
This is particularly true if you use Starry Landscape Stacker, Sequator, Deep Sky Stacker and Autostakkert!, as I showed in the video below.
Image stacking is one of the crucial steps in the astrophotography editing workflow.
You’ll need the appropriate stacker for each type of astrophotography: starry landscapes, star trails, or deep-sky and planetary images.
In this article, we have covered the most popular astrophotography stackers available on the market, both freeware and commercial.
And while Windows users have the more extensive choice, some notable stackers are available for Mac and even Linux users.