I feel like there has to be an easier way to clean a static starfield.
Since the automated dust cleanup presumably erases stars, have you considered stabilizing the shot, running the cleanup, and layering it over the original on ‘darken’? Then if you had just a single frame manually cleaned, it could be overlaid on top of that with the blending on ‘lighten’, which would return the accidentally erased stars.
True. This is actually a trick we’ve been taught at my film restoration business. We make two copies of the frame, and on one we apply an automatic dust and scratch removal, which removes some detail, but then put the dirty layer on darken and the quality is kept while only removing the dust.