This chapter presents a great deal of material that will at first seem abstract and irrelevant to the practical matter of making beautiful images. As your sophistication grows, however, you will likely find yourself striving for smoother images with less noise—and you'll want to know what you must do to reach that goal.
It is tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that there is some shortcut, some trick that will work wonders on your images. But there is no trick. Astronomical imaging is driven by fundamental considerations: How many photons did you capture? How bright is your sky background? What is the dark current in your camera? How many dark frames did you shoot? There is no magic. The key is to get the signal level up and beat the noise level down.
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