Case NGC 891: to anyone who is interested in the truth


                                       The case NGC 891. Who cares the truth 


Article J.Lodriguss on S&T magazine : reply 

On the occasion of the article signed by J. Lodriguss on ethics in astronomical photography, coming soon, on the well-known US magazine Sky & Telescope, I consider it necessary, indeed indispensable, to strongly replicate the image,which with great superficiality of journalism, is attributed to me.
I do not gain with astronomy, I do not get gifts from sponsors, and luckily I did not lose the friendship and trust of those who know me.

However, I feel obliged to defend thirty intense years of astronomy, beautiful, passionate and especially honest (even in the mistakes that humanly can be committed). I am not a thief and I will never, and never exist civil place ( and therefore of right ) in the world, where the blame becomes crazy ( fraud ), for presumption, for simple supposition. Below the reply to Sky & Telescope. The sentence for many was issued, for others perhaps there will be elements at least for a reasonable doubt.


Dear Editor

Dear dott. Jerry Lodriguss


With intense sorrow, I take a look at the article of  Dr. Jerry Lodriguss in my part.

After so many years, I receive attention from her magazine and one of the most esteemed authors, but at what price!

Thirty years of intense astrophysics, from chemical ( films and slides), being one of the first to develop the possibilities of digital reflex in the field of mapped color ( Ha SII OIII ), the development of a deep multi-band imaging (using one of the very few in my Country ), the Hypestar system, up to near-infrared (807nm) experiments, collaborations, continuous exploration of the potential and limitations of modern CMOS sensors, and the development of a synthesis of hires techniques with deep-sky exploration of those that I consider the new frontiers of imaging, articles, publications and some lucky national and international prizes.

Thirty years of commitment, thousands of nights under the sky, huge economic investments, to be finally presented as an international thief of photons ( at least in the image discussed ).

But if this is the truth, proper journalism must bring it back.

But is the reality of the facts? It may be of interest to an alternative version perhaps more responsive to the facts, or it is journalistically more appealing to the summary judgment that I think has already been issued.

The error has been, I’m paying it and I will pay it in the future and at a fair price.

I explained it, in detail, with enough technical data, on a special page on my site, immediately after the event, and describe it again in a new page on my site, containing new data and elements, at the url

As reported in it, applying a learned learning and improvement method in the music field, (  playing along with a registration of a great musician, improves fingering and style ), in the final stages of my elaborations ( if I’m a faker because declare this with the danger of casting doubt on my entire production?), which is always done in PS insert a layer containing an image of a better imager than me ( find a better imager than me, is pretty simple ).

This is to verify my improvements while avoiding artifacts.

With enormous superficiality that I normally do not belong to, at the end of the processing, I merged the levels ( forgetting to turn off or deactivate the A.Block image remaining active as a blend percentage ) without checking the final version if not with a quick glance, I immediately sent it all.

Puerile defense,of a swindler, discovered in flagrante of offense, impossible version, or is there a slight chance that this has actually happened?

It is possible that an imager with dozens of publications and articles in the magazines, three APODs (except for obviously what I was taken away), and numerous awards in national and international competitions, have been so clever to have deceived for decades, publishers, responsible and scientific directors, expert imagers, and astronomers, commissioning judges, and even NASA?

Is it a case that in years of publications and competitions, has never the slightest problem?

Can the expertise of dozens of such experts be so poor?

I do not think so.

But if I was so good at counterfeiting, why not apply the same skill to NGC 891?

If that is not the case, if fraud is only on the NGC 891 image, why risk a career for an APOD or a premium?

Besides, I’m so attached to the victories and the publications that I do not update the page of pubblications (on my site) for almost two years.

And why to do it by taking a picture ( moreover rotate in comparison to mine ) of one of the world’s best-known imagers, roughly pasting his data over mine, instead of mixing them with care(I have more than 10 hours on NGC 891 and with thousands of hours of processing behind I would be able to do it!).

In the case of a fake addition, never thought I would have gotten the details of the galaxy, avoiding the sky background (where often the imagers put some identifying elements), which was the decisive factor in recognizing the alteration of the image?

And why use the same spikes as size, orientation when easily with a selection could only take the star component and then use the well known software Star Spike Pro to generate spikes at will?

Are only a idle questions or a useful method for make a correct journalismsince it is about ethics )?

More than a skilled fake, it seems more like a crazy and senseless suicide.

More than a fake (in the sense of cheating as reported in the article), it seems to me an example of how you should not work, an example of superficiality.

But from guilt, going to the dole (in my Country always tried by the accusation, it must always be proven by the accused ), without even asking the most elementary questions  is not just not justice, but it is not even the expression of the professionalism and seriousness that I am used to breathing from pages of your magazine.

A passionate, a man, is not a virtual image, it is not made of paper but of flesh and feelings. For this reason, every quick judgment would require at least a minimum of information about who you are about to hit, because each of us can end up in this flesh trite ( distracting is much easier than it seems ).

If you are a faker you take into account the risk (and once discovered I think it is useless to defend yourself), but if the problem is another, as mentioned, the suffering is huge.

I have also been advised to defend the image at law, which is simple and costly to me for the work I do.

However, for now I prefer to turn to humanity ( men can go wrong ) and the proven professionalism of the authors and managers of your own magazine, asking for a correction or the possibility of a reply, contained with the techincal data , useful to those who want to deepen more seriously or at least with greater data the affair, on the url

In the future, I do not know if I will succeed, but I will strive to produce even better results than those charged with plagiarism, and anyway, each job will be equipped with fit, sums, description of the processing process, who will have the competence and courage to recognize a honest and committed passion will allow me to still share.

Otherwise, I do not live economically of astronomy, I do not receive gifts from sponsors, my professional and personal reputation has never aroused any doubt and I will remain me my friends of sky,that knowing me personally, never questioned my correctness.

I also appear as an idiot fool, but not as a cheater: I think it would be humanly and journalistically more correct.

That being said, I renew the apologies for my gross (coarse) error, already forwarded to the interested parties in January and publicly reported on my site.

Astrophotography is my greatest passion, since I was a child, and the thought of having it involuntarily damaged will be a burden on the heart for the rest of my life.

Thanking you for your attention, 


Below is a quick analysis of the data obtained on NGC 891 (with its download links) to see if and how much the A.Block data on the final version affected.

An astronomical photo, as many know, is the fruit of hundreds of passes using many special software.

My purpose, however, is to propose a quick (though very coarse) path that allows anyone to touch in a few minutes the main features of the data I collected on NGC 891 to produce the image sent to the APOD .

In other words, verifying the level of detail achievable (albeit with very few steps) can give an indication of how and how much the image of A.Block has affected the final detail


Here’s all the raw data of all sessions.

Session of 15.11 downloadable here 

Session of 16.11 download       here

Session of 18.11 download       here

Session of 2.12 download        here

Data has been preprocessed using downloadable calibration frames    ( master bias removal, division for master flat field, no dark alignment and stacking ) using predominantly PI (excellent for making the sum of individual frames winsorized sigma clipping rejection algorithms or even better linear fit clipping.

After calibration alignment and stacking you will get the downloadable files here in XISF format of PixInsight and converted to format TIF 16bit 

The results obtained can be seen as one of the best sessions on December 2, 2015.

The others before being able to contribute to the overall sum will have to be brought to the best level, that is December 2nd. This will produce a more detailed sum of what you could get by summing up without any prior intervention all the frames of all sessions.

The proposed processing is coarse and very fast: a quick deconvolution in PI ( usually I use Astroart and IRIS software but for this test I will try to use, at least for the major steps PixInsight – hereafter PI- as a very widespread program among the imagers )




Here is the result, for example, obtained on the sum of session data of November 15, 2015):


The image is altered by a push deconvolution and not limited by protective masks (PI regularized Richardson Lucy 80 iteraz.) But what is now being imported is to verify the level and scale of detail obtainable without thinking too much about aesthetics.

By opening the image in PS, and putting the raw sum on a level and the deconvolved on the upper level, the stars obtained with the deconvolution will be selected with a magic wand with tolerance 10 (maybe slightly fading a selection) copied and merely glued On the rough sum (with a layer mask and a brush can reveal parts of the undefined underneath level to eliminate artifacts around brighter stars). Even the details of the galaxy will easily emerge with the use of a brush on a simple PS mask.

Any residual hot pixels that are not removed from the sigma clipping sum can be removed with the dust and scratch tool in the PS.



At the end of this rough preliminary phase whose purpose as mentioned is to bring the data (or rather the sums) of the sessions of November 15 and 16 to the level of that of 2 December i got the downloadable pictures   qui or qui

 As we said the sum of these with the one on December 2, which instead did not undergo interventions, will provide us with the aggregate sum of unbinning full resolution sessions (15, 16 November and 2 December 2015) for a total of 440 minutes scaricable here  ( sum unb 440 min sess 15-16/11; 2/12) .


Now we can finally begin our first checks on the level of detail achieved (While for the depth and softness we will also use the sum of 200 minutes obtained in binning 2x the night of November 18, 2015).


For now, we will focus only on the sum of unbinning data of 440 mins.

Let’s open it in PI and apply an RRL deconvolution of 50 it;

Then using the well-known IRIS freeware by applying a processing gaussian filter (Gaussian filter) and wavelet (processing wavelet) with the values gauss iris 1.0 wav iris finest 6 end 10,1 medium 0,5 large 0,6 largest 0 , 6 and finally applying an adaptive filter or blur (processing blur) and other three deconvolutions in PI (always using the regularized Richardson Lucy algorithm) will make the details even more incisive.

At the end of our coarse processing and without any noise reduction process (apart from the lightweight Gaussian applied in iris) we get this downloadable image here: somma 440min dopo ammorbidimento wav iris e dec PI

There is still signal and detail to be extracted (this time however by introducing into the noise containment procedures) and each one if he wants to do seriously, with more time and a bit of patience (and above all with a real process of processing) will succeed with Easy to do better than that.

My purpose as mentioned is to allow everyone in a matter of minutes to touch the detail level of the NGC 891 to understand to what extent the one sent to the APOD is different.

We do not have to look at the stars now, which will have to be elaborated with a separate procedure and not even the sky background that will be given by the total amount (remember? We still have 200 minutes in binning to be added), but only the scale and the typology of the details contained in the ” image.

There is still a long way to go though here is a preliminary as hasty comparison with what we got and the version sent to the APOD.


For this animation, I used as said, the image obtained with the quick steps described here. First, however, I was able to apply a noise reduction filter in the PS-filter-noise-reducing noise-intensity-7 as the artifacts on the sky-sky distracted me too much from the galaxy. However, for the continuation of our path, the intervention of this filter will be removed to return to the version obtained with the steps described hereunder.

The NGC 891 sent to the APOD is obviously the result of much longer and accurate processing resulting from many steps in every single software like “jumping” between software and the other.

Applying a less hasty processing and above all a little more accurate (though using the same data so far), adding the 2x binning 2x data downloaded here ( sum lum200min sess 18,11,2015 lev adjust pulita dec PI ) using layer masks in PS …..

You will get a better (and certainly softer) version of the previous one.

I’ve never been a great data processor, so most of those who read, will definitely be able to produce a much better end version than mine.

already processing all the data we can get a simil-luminance with even more detail, 


With this obviously I do not want to prove that a C11 can achieve a 60 cm performance using the clever hands of A.Block, but everyone can determine whether an increase such as the one highlighted could justify the risk of throwing away a reputation.

Using the data presented so far, as the starting point, considering the comparable star dimension to that presented to the APOD would not have been very difficult, for any possessor of some rudimentary PS (as I am), to produce a false With Block data (even with a simple single layer mask and brush brush). The merger with my data in this case was, on the galaxy alone, 50%



You will only need to apply the resized color as you can see from the raw downloadable data and the spikes final touch with Star Spikes Pro software (which controls virtually everything from the star pattern, from the number to the angle and position of the spikes, from the intensity to the aloni , Diffractive phenomena, etc) we would have made our perfect fake (in which the sky background would of course be – the first rule of a good faker – much more cautious and prudent).

Ultimately I think, a much more accurate and credible fake than the one, grossly coincidental, that I am accused of.


The detail can be reached

Regarding more generally the level of detail achieved in some of my images, there is good news: that is, as I will try to prove shortly, it is certainly within the reach of a medium diameter instrument (28 cm in my case ). The piece to pay is that of a great deal of attention to the quality of the starting data that will then be treated with a processing to adapt to the subject being taken.

For years I thought I was also attentive to the shooting stages, but I was wrong. When I was going to resume a target, I waited for a discreet night and then proceeded. One or two nights of integration and then proceeded to the processing. Now I try to resume, high-focal, in the really calm nights accumulating many sessions most of which then will be discarded.

The ultimate goal is to reach 20, 30 or more hours of excellent signal. To do this unfortunately, at least from my site, it takes several years.

Take for example Messier 51

There have been many shooting nights, always using my H694 on my Celestron C11HD (at f 10, f 6.3 using a Lepus reducer from Optec and f 7 using a Takahashi focal reducer)

In addition, as I have explane in several online and magazine journals, I often use a strong over-sampling (see eg f-20 footage on many items including Messier 51, which will soon be a sample) to work unexpectedly good some deconvolution algorithms ( ex alg.Wiener ).

Among these I have not discarded only the following (which refer only to the data useful for the creation of a luminance, since the object of the test relates to the detail achieved but on request the chrominance and halpha sessions are available):

session 11.06.2013 download here

session 13.06.2013 download here

session 14.06.2013 download here

session 16.06.2013 download here

session 17.06.2013 download here

session 28.02.2015 @ f6.3 download here

session 1.06.2014 @ f 7.3 download here

sessione 2.04.2015 @ f20 downloadable here

In the links indicated, the sums already made (in xisf, tiff and fit format) have been added but for those who would like to also calibrate the individual integrations, here are the bias frames, the flat fields (and for those who still use the dark frame ones those).

This material is suitable for composing a total laying of 1548 min or 25.8 hours of luminance.

of these, let’s sum up ( after calibrating the individual frames, which in this case consists only in the bias frame removal ) only those of 14, 16, 17 June 2013 and 28 February 2015.

We will get a total sum of 970 min in good conditions downloadable  here in TIFF format.

If we apply this rough sum, a simple contrast filter in Photoshop (filter-sharpness-contrast mask) with the 360-ray factor 3.9 parameters we get the following image (which will already let us know if the detail level reached is satisfactory and therefore deserving of a true elaboration that can extract any information as possible).

Of course, to better examine our sum, we could apply a deconvolutionary algorithm in PI (in the following picture I applied 60 iterations of the Richardson Lucy regularized algorithm with radius values of 2.80).

In order to obtain the outer envelope and generally more depth, all sessions will be used, especially that of June 1, 2014 here in unprocessed raw sums.

As is well known is seeing limiting the resolution power of our instrument (at least as far as traditional techniques are concerned). Sensitivity to this factor (seeing) is inversely proportional to the diameter. By experience I have noticed that a 100 mm (sampling rate) instrument used in excellent viewing conditions will produce a level of detail not far from that achieved by double diameters used in unsuitable shooting conditions.

If this is true, it will be even more in comparison with large diameters, much more exposed to the degrading effects of seeing (not just for diameter but for the major focal points that they typically have).

Already in average conditions, between 200 mm and 400, there is no history, but for the former will be much more nights to develop all its potential and with modern processing tools it is sometimes possible to break down the limit that in our imaginary is relative to a given diameter.

No need to believe, just try it!

Of course you will need to integrate much more and so the “photo of the life” may take several years.



Those who have had the patience and the curiosity to follow me in this quick analysis will draw the considerations they feel appropriate.

Everyone will be aware if in normal mental health it is possible to risk a thirty year “career” (public, in the sector’s magazines since 2007) for a simple increase (each will also determine the size) of the data in a single image, A single job, for a single APOD or premium award.


Thirty years dedicated to the exploration of the instrumental limits of optics and sensors from film to chemical film to those with multi-band digital reflexes (see for example work on Messier 8, and previous ones, from 2009 onwards premiati, prized, published in magazines and articles  )

Also with CCD  using the hyperstar system ( very uncommon in my country ) for deep shooting (for example, work done on the nebula Jellyfish or on the enigmatic object OU4 in Cepheus, rarely resumed with this magnification and detail



Depth also needed to try to resume unfamiliar regions of heaven, such as in the case of  Messier 15 region or NGC 6946, the famous-fireworks galaxy in Cepheus

Or on the Helix Nebula, as on Iris Nebula



From multi-band testing to create unedited trichrome or quadricromic compositions ( example Messier 16 )


From infrared tests near up to 807 nm   (   Even on comets, as in the case of  C2014 Lovejoy ) on the nebulae:

Collaborations, promotion, even with articles, of coordinated imaging between multiple operators, both at a distance and on the same site.

From exploration of regions little photographed

From high resolution work on the planets


To those on the nebulae

NGC 6888..

High-resolution jobs on galaxies


Up to the recent developments of new photographic techniques aimed at eroding the distance between locating and resolving power in a synthesis between hires and deep sky techniques currently underway in one of my recent works ( Lagoon Nebula hires ) which represents a bit of the summit of my possibilities.

All this, not to say I’m good.

Good imagers (some of which have long been my reference and inspiration) are another thing; I would just like to bring an intuitive way of thinking to those who did not know her, my passion and her unworthy spacing in many fields of imaging (and hence everything I would have to do with a single image or a single recognition, Many times already obtained in the past).

I and my fit will be available using the form on the site ( ) or at my mailbox for anyone who wants to talk about astronomy, technics, even of human errors, but not of gossip.