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Excellent free software also exists. One example is Christian Buil's Iris, a full-featured image processing program available from Based on a command-line interface, Iris is radically different from other image editing programs, but it is reliable and well-documented, and the price is right.

Another highly respected free program is Cor Berrevoets' RegiStax, which has long been the standard tool for stacking and enhancing video planet images. RegiStax is gradually adding features useful for processing still pictures of deep-sky objects. You can download it from

Also highly respected is DeepSkyStacker (, and again the price is right - it's free. DeepSkyStacker can rotate and stack images, subtract dark frames, and interconvert all major file formats, including Canon and Nikon raw. It's not a complete image processor, but it works well with a general photo editor.

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