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Astronomy Outreach Imaging Workshop
Speaker Abstracts (in order of presentation)

Day 1 -- Monday, September 29, 2003

Data to Pictures 101
Zolt Levay, STScI

This presentation will describe the basic steps in translating astronomical data into color images. It will cover some techniques of working with the original data and using Photoshop Layers to combine gray images in color. It will also discuss a few techniques for presenting as much detail as possible throughout images by compressing dynamic range, maximizing contrast, etc.

Cosmos versus Canvas: Colour and Composition in Astronomy Images
Jayanne English, University of Manitoba

Bold colour images from telescopes act as extraordinary ambassadors for astronomers because they pique the public's curiosity. Unfortunately attempts by scientists to represent their discoveries can tend to all but drown out the conventions of visual literacy. This can dilute the impact of an image intended for use in public outreach. This talk outlines how artistic techniques -- such as colour contrast and composition -- can be used to produce a more engaging image with greater clarity for the non-expert public.

The Hubble Heritage Project
Keith Noll, STScI

The Hubble Heritage project (http://heritage.stsci.edu) has been producing images from HST for 5 years. I will describe the basic tenets of our project, the teamwork behind the images, and the challenges we face.

Cosmetic Cleaning of Astronomical Images
Lisa Frattare, STScI

Presentation is everything, and a well-presented image enables the viewer to experience the astronomical object that is the focus of the image, rather than the image itself. This talk will discuss treatment of various detector-attributed artifacts such as cosmic rays, chip seams, gaps, optical ghosts, diffraction spikes and the like. Other pixel-to-pixel applications to final presentation images, such as filter smoothing, global noise reduction, and unsharp masking will also be discussed.

From raw data to polished PR images as done by ESA/Hubble
Lars Lindberg Christensen, ESA/ST-ECF

Producing PR images from raw data is relative straightforward, and yet so complicated. To communicate our experience with making images from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope I would like to walk you step-by-step – in simplified fashion – through our image production workflow in Munich.

Depending on the level and content of the previous talks I will try to emphasize issues that may not have been discussed in depth: i.e. special tricks, insight that took us time to acquire and our experience working in a very compact and optimized workflow.


“Not My Job” Image Processing:
Photos, Diagrams, Layouts, and the Basics of Graphic Design
Jim Keller SIRTF/IPAC

In many ways, processing images of astronomical objects is easy... the data are there and we get to decide how to represent it. However, it is not unusual for us to be asked to create graphics from scratch, with little or no data. We also often get asked to apply our skills to photographs of astronomers, locations, and the likes, where there is pressure to represent the subject “accurately.” Yet there is still great potential in these situations to create stunning images. This presentation will confront the challenges of these situations with simple techniques and guidelines for dealing with photographs, diagrams, graphic design and layout, visualizations, and even the nightmare of imaging for film and video presentation.

Creating astronomy news graphics for print, web, and video
Ann Feild and Lynn Barranger, STScI

Communicating science results through the use of graphics is an effective – although deceptively “easy” – way to make complex data visually appealing as well as digestible to the scientific community as well as to the scientifically interested lay public. Software such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and Adobe AfterEffects and Macromedia Flash, provides many tools to achieve the graphic effects to convey findings and showcase images. In this day and age, it’s vital to try to reach as broad an audience as possible via the web and video, as well as through traditional print products. Collaborating with scientists and with fellow news team members, graphic artists serve as translators between highly technical research and “at-a-glance” distillations of that data.


The Art of Space
David Aguilar, Harvard-Smithsonian/CfA

Even with the advent of astrophotography in the late 19th century, space artists portrayed the Universe in ways that were much more meaningful to humans than mere photographs.

Yet even today, with the wonderful images from Hubble enlightening our imaginations, space art now plays an even greater role in the technical, educational and entertainment fields. It conveys celestial objects, events and the human element in ways photographs may never be able to accomplish from Earth.


Automated 3D Visualization of GOODS using Perl Scripts
Frank Summers, STScI

The GOODS project has produced a deep mosaic of some 250 million pixels showing tens of thousands of galaxies across all redshifts. To convert this 2D image into a 3D fly-through, hand processing is untenable. This talk will cover the automated procedures - using Perl scripts to access IRAF, the GIMP, ImageMagick and more - that enabled the efficient creation of a stunning 3D visualization.

Day 2 -- Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Making the Most of Infrared Images
Robert Hurt, SIRTF/Caltech

The InfraRed Science Archive (IRSA) at IPAC is the premiere repository of infrared imagery of the sky, spanning near- to far-infrared wavelengths with nearly full sky coverage. IRSA holdings include the datasets of the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS), Infrared Space Observatory (ISO), Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX), Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), and soon, Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF). As a resource for infrared imagery the IRSA holdings are unmatched and will be the source of data for this talk.

The presentation will walk through the process of going from raw FITS tiles to completed graphic for several complex images. The tools demonstrated will feature the IRSA website (for data), MONTAGE (for mosaicing), SKYVIEW (for imaging), and PHOTOSHOP (for composing/cleanup). Note that Montage and Skyview are tools developed internally at IPAC that are freely distributed to the astronomical community. The treatment of each image will include a discussion of Photoshop techniques for cleanup and artifact removal as well as considerations of aesthetics and print practicalities.

Pipeline to Poster: Preparing Chandra's Images
Holly Jessop and Kim Kowal, CXC/SAO

The Chandra X-ray Observatory, which provides at least fifty times better resolution than previous X-ray missions, is returning a wealth of new imaging data. Chandra's Education & Public Outreach Group works to transform these data into images for the public: images that communicate both beauty and science, and play a key role in conveying the excitement and achievements of current high-energy astrophysical research ongoing with Chandra. I will present the overall technical workflow for Chandra image preparation, from raw archive data to colorized press-ready image. Some of the challenges specific to Chandra images will be also discussed.

Astronomy Illustration and Visualization: The Good the Bad and the Ugly
Ray Villard, STScI

This talk will explore the use of illustration and visualization in presenting astronomy results to the media and the public: what works and what doesn’t, what is appropriate and what is not.

Are We Going Too Far? An "Ethics" Discussion
Travis Rector, University of Alaska

In general, the public doesn't understand how contemporary astronomical images are made. We use telescopes that far outstrip the human eye in sensitivity and wavelength range. And modern image-manipulation software allow us to create high-quality images in a purely digital form that can be colorized, scaled and manipulated much more flexibly than traditional photographic astronomical images. But concerns have been raised that our images mislead the public, particularly regarding color representation. How do we handle issues regarding authenticity, when the fundamental goal of our images is to show what the human eye cannot see? My talk will focus on issues regarding the "ethics" of digital manipulation, and what boundaries exist to maximize the richness and detail in an image while maintaining scientific accuracy. I will also discuss the issue of our responsibilities to the public when presenting these images.

Digital Star-trails and Nighttime Timelapse Animations
Peter Michaud and Kirk Pu'uohau-Pummill, Gemini Observatory

Using a “standard” digital camera (Nikon D1X) and a custom timer/battery pack, we will demonstrate how to make extremely high-contrast/impact star-trails and time-lapse sequences of the night sky. We will also highlight our latest efforts at Gemini to create a “transparent” dome effect using individual digital images (see: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap030909.html)

The Art of Space
David Aguilar, Harvard-Smithsonian/CfA

Even with the advent of astrophotography in the late 19th century, space artists portrayed the Universe in ways that were much more meaningful to humans than mere photographs. Yet even today, with the wonderful images from Hubble enlightening our imaginations, space art now plays an even greater role in the technical, educational and entertainment fields. It conveys celestial objects, events and the human element in ways photographs may never be able to accomplish from Earth.