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Step 1: Import, start Tracking

Open an image stack ("dataset"), fresh from a stacker. Processing in StarTools is easiest and will yield vastly better results if the data is as "virgin" as possible, meaning unstretched, not colour balanced, not noise reduced and not deconvolved. Best results are achieved with data that is as close to what the camera recorded as possible.

Do not use any software that may have meddled with your data prior to passing it to your stacking program. Avoid any pre-conversion tools or software that came with your camera. Make sure that any stacking software that you use is configured to perform as little processing to the data as possible. For example, if you use Deep Sky Stacker make sure that Per Channel Color Calibration and RGB Channels Calibration are set to 'no'. Also make sure that, in Deep Sky Stacker, the final file is saved with settings 'embedded', rather than applied. 32-bit integer FITS files are preferable. As of DSS 4.2.3 beta-1 you can turn off white balancing too.

Counter-intuitively, a good stacker output will have a distinct, heavy color bias with little or no apparent detail. Worry not; subsequent processing in StarTools will remove the color bias, while restoring and bringing out detail. If, looking at the initial image, you are wondering how on earth this will be turned into a nice picture, you are often on the right track.

Upon opening an image, the Tracking dialog will open, asking you about the characteristics of the data. Choose the option that best matches the data being imported. If your dataset comes straight from a stacker, the first option is safe. Tracking is now engaged (the Track button is lit up green).



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