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Software and Tips for Astrophotography?

Cliff posted about 12 years ago | from the star-gazing dept.


Neotrantor asks: "I'm a college student in an advanced astronomy class and i need to find out how nasa compiles all their little pictures into those big pretty ones like the hubble deep field. does anyone know what software they use or where i could find it. furthermore, is it an operation that any kind of workstation (sparc, alpha, x86, g4) when left on and trashing for a while, could get the job done?" As I understand it, Picture Window (and the Professional version) have become valued tools in the amateur astrophotography world, what other pieces of software would aspiring Astrophotographers find useful in their toolkits? What other tips and trickscan you use to produce stunning visuals of the sky?

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IRAF (3, Informative)

RCO (597148) | about 12 years ago | (#4373482)

We always used IRAF for analyzing the images that we had. It would allow you to put different filters etc. on the images, and overlay them but I couldn't tell you what it is capable of at this point. IRAF runs under various UNIX flavours, but I don't think there is a version for windows at this point. You can look at this site for more information; tml


TIps. (1, Funny)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | about 12 years ago | (#4373574)

1Take off lens cap.
2 Point camera up.
3 Big profits!!!

HEy, moderator!! You stupid fuck!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4374549)

The above post was HUMOR, see. It was meant to provide a small amount of amusement for the slashdot reading audience. THis is a TROLL, because im calling you an ignorant busybody fuck who should learn to THINK before you get the moderation abliyt. No why dont you just blow me, you ignorant son of a bitch? See, THIS is a fucking TROLL! you unflushed asswipe

Astro software sites: (3, Informative)

mockojumbie (303033) | about 12 years ago | (#4373750)

NASA's main software page: []

QCUIAG has links to some excellent software, some free, some not: [] []

A new method used by STSI and others: []

A HUGE collection of links: []

My own astro pages 8^) []

IDL (4, Informative)

teridon (139550) | about 12 years ago | (#4373769)

I'm not an astronomer, but I sit near some! :)

AFAICT, serious image manipulation/analyzation is done with IDL. Check out The IDL Astronomy User's Library [] .

GIMP Reads FITS (2)

lal (29527) | about 12 years ago | (#4373874)

I don't know what NASA uses to compile those images, but I do know that the GIMP can read and write FITS, the standard format for astronomical images. Many of the Hubble images, in FITS format, are available from the links listed in the other posts.

For amateur astrophotography, some of which rivals the NASA shots, much of the image processing is done with Photoshop. Most of the tools used to process those images are also available in the GIMP.

Hubble deep field is a single image (3, Interesting)

PD (9577) | about 12 years ago | (#4373932)

The deep field is a single image, it was not compiled from smaller ones.

The stealth bomber shape of the picture is the actual shape of the CCD that took the photos. That chip was replaced in the last servicing mission, so they'll not be batwing shaped in the future.

Re:Hubble deep field is a single image (3, Informative)

spinkham (56603) | about 12 years ago | (#4380484)

Actually, it is the output of 4 different ccds which take pictures of overlapping areas that are stitched togeather, often by hand for nicer pictures they put out. There was an article on the cameras and image processing (focusing on color but also covering this) in a recent sky&telescope, and there's also good information here: es/wacky_shape/index.shtml []

PANORAMA from Sweetcode (2)

torpor (458) | about 12 years ago | (#4373939)

Sweetcode has an entry for some *fantastic* tools, one of which is the Panorama Tools set available here:

Looks like it might do the job ...

Image Stitching... What do people use? (1)

PaulBu (473180) | about 12 years ago | (#4374212)

On a related topic, I'm wondering what do you
people use for image stitching?

Image stitching is taking a bunch of low-res
images from, say small cam and aligning them
automatically to produce large hi-res image.
Good program would have to compensate for lens
distortion and tries to balance color between
different sub-images.

There are Panotools which is GPLed but I've
never made it to work for me (I just need to
stitch one image every two months :) ), another
one is PanaVue, commercial Windows-only SW
available as shareware (but adds nasty logos
all over if free as beer version is used).

Any other suggestions/projects? (this is that
time in 2-month cycle when I need it...)

Paul B.

Re:Image Stitching... What do people use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4376032)

Re:Image Stitching... What do people use? (1)

PaulBu (473180) | about 12 years ago | (#4377703)

nice program, but it looks like it is more
for accumulation of THE SAME image to clean up
noise than for alignment of a mosaic of images.
Also, it works only with B/W BMP files, not that
I mind converting to BMP, but B/W is a serious

Must be a good choice for the astronomy though,
mod parent up!

Re:Image Stitching... What do people use? (2)

iangoldby (552781) | about 12 years ago | (#4383990)

I'd second the use of panotools [] for stitching images together (website currently down). I couldn't immediately get it to work on Linux, but had it running on Windows without problems.

It does all sorts of lens corrections, as well as full translation/rotation and transforms between different projections, so you can get the alignment pretty accurate. It also has an 'almost perfect' sinc function interpolator.

This was covered back in April (2)

HughsOnFirst (174255) | about 12 years ago | (#4374269)

What you probably want to do is combine lots of images one on top of another to increase the signal to noise ratio.
I doubt that your problem is that the field of view is too narrow. The reason people use bigger telescopes is to get a wider aperture not a longer focal length.

A recent Slashdot story [] has a lot of links to information you are looking for.

IRAF and gimp (2)

xiox (66483) | about 12 years ago | (#4374461)

I'm an X-ray astronomer. Optical astronomers often use IRAF to create the images, but other software like GAIA can be used. SAO's ds9 and saoimage can be used to view the data. Professional astronomers normally use the FITS format to store observational astronomical data.

I personally (after using CIAO to make the basic images from my X-ray data) combine them using Gimp (it reads FITS files) and then use it to manipulate the colours.

Sorry for the lack of links. Google will find most of those.

Java's JAI Package (1)

KillingTheCabinet (254294) | about 12 years ago | (#4375491)

I listen in on the Java Advanced Imaging discussion list and there are regularly posts from Bob Dean of JPL. It really sounds like they rely on the JAI package for much of their programatic image processing.

Sun has a story about the JPL's use of JAI here: ti on/jpl.html

Starlink (1)

Mezza (567870) | about 12 years ago | (#4412792)

During my Astrophysics degree, we used the Starlink [] software suite, it comprises numerous data-reduction and analysis tools, and is freely available. It is used by a large proportion of UK academic institutions.
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