Nikita Misiura is an astrophotographer and software developer who created the StarNet++ software system which provides the ability to remove stars from astrophotography images.
As Misiura notes, “StarNet++ is neural network-based software that can make star removal from images simpler. The idea was to train a neural network that can remove stars in one simple step, avoiding time-consuming-thousand-steps procedures with dozens of parameters to tune.”
Since its debut last year, Misiura has been working with the amateur astronomy community to continuously improve on the software. For Photoshop users the software provides the ability easily drag-and-drop your images into the platform to remove the stars. It can be downloaded on Sourceforge here. There is also a StarNet++ module for the popular Pixinsight astrophotography image processing platform which is available natively for FreeBSD, Linux, Mac OS X and Windows operating systems.
There is a Python version for more advanced users that is available on GitHub here. The whole code is open-source and users need to have the ability to work with Python, Tensorflow, etc. The code provides the ability to train the neural network on your own data or modify the code for your needs.
Trevor Jones with Astro Backyard has published a nice review and how to tutorial of StarNet++ on his website.
As he notes, “The process of reducing or removing stars in an astrophoto is not a new concept in the astrophotography image processing world. This technique is used by many amateur astrophotographers to help reveal the delicate structures of their deep-sky object.
I even wrote a tutorial on removing stars in Photoshop, and it was my go-to method for removing/reducing star sizes for many years. Now, I include StarNet++ as a part of my workflow at this stage.
By separating the stars from the nebula or galaxy in your images, you can control and manipulate the data in a more deliberate way overall. A quick example of this would be to brighten the outer regions of the Andromeda Galaxy without making the surrounding stars brighter and overpowering.”
Below is a video tutorial by Chuck’s Astrophotography providing an overview of using the StarNet++ software.