Introduction to Astrophotography Conference 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011, 9:30 am to 6:00 pm
Intel Conference Center
2111 NE 25th Avenue
Hillsboro, OR, USA

Updated on September 5, 2011

Astrophotography using cameras provides many benefits such as observing fainter details, making scientific measurements and producing stunning images that are shared with others.

This conference covered the various aspects of astrophotography and image processing starting from the basics. This conference was for attendees with no astrophotography or image processing experience.

This conference was organized and implemented by Neil Heacock, Duncan Kitchin and David Haworth.

Presentations files are available at the download web page.

Conference Location

Intel Conference Center
2111 NE 25th Avenue
Hillsboro, OR, USA

  • Take the Brookwood Parkway/Helvetia road exit from 26.
  • If driving from Portland, turn left at the top of the off-ramp onto Brookwood Parkway.
  • At the next traffic lights following the junction (about half a mile south), turn right onto Evergreen Parkway.
  • After passing Hillsboro Airport on the left, turn left at the traffic lights onto NE 25th Avenue.
  • Turn right into the Intel campus at the next traffic lights.
  • Keep going straight on at the first junction inside the campus, continuing past the elevated solar arrays in the parking lot to your left.
  • Approximately half way down the cluster of buildings on your left you will find the conference center lobby, which is well marked on the building exterior.
  • There are many entrances into the Jones Farm buildings, but you will only be able to get in via the conference center entrance.


  • 9:15 to 9:30 am Sign-in  
  • 9:30 am Capturing Astro-Image Data
    Duncan Kitchin
    • Objectives of today’s presentation
    • Principles of astro-imaging data capture
    • The ideal image capture process
    • Correcting for deviations from the ideal
      • Tracking
      • Optics
      • Camera
    • Putting it all together: the data capture process
    • Wrap-up

  • 11:30 am Lunch on your own

M33 by Duncan Kitchin

  • 1:00 am Introduction to Astrophotography
    David Haworth
    • Electronic camera types
      • Digital camera
      • DSLR camera
      • Astronomy CCD camera
    • Electronic camera basics
      • Pixel arrays
      • Bayer filters
      • Noise
    • Optics basics
      • Focal length
      • focal ratio
    • Tripod astrophotography
    • Tracking the sky astrophotography
    • Image Processing
      • Types of image processing software
      • Pixel values
      • Color
      • Histogram
      • Dynamic range
      • White and black points
      • Nonlinear image stretch
      • Reducing camera defects
      • Image calibration with dark frames
      • Noise reduction by stacking images
      • Reducing optics defects

  • 3:00 am Break

Milky Way by David Haworth

  • 3:30 am Astrophotography Virtual Walkthrough
    Neil Heacock
    • Neil will demonstrate a virtual walkthrough of his complete workflow from choosing an target, through acquisition and processing to posting it on the web.
      • Object Selection
      • Setting Up The Gear
      • Target Acquisition Using Nebulosity
      • Calibration Frames
      • Rough Processing To Take A Look Right Away (not a software demo or tutorial)
      • Fine Process To Complete Image Later (not a software demo or tutorial)
      • Post To Web

  • 5:30 pm Panel Discussion
  • 6:00 pm Conference End

Neil Heacock's Setup

Neil Heacock

Neil Heacock

Neil Heacock is an IT professional who moved out of the city for the first time in 2003. After living in LA, Seattle and Portland, he moved to somewhat more rural area of Clark County and really saw the stars. This birthed a strong interest in astronomy which has continued to grow and develop over the past 6 years. In 2006 Neil began to dabble in astrophotography and after attending the 2007 Northwest Astrophotography Conference his imaging stared to mature. Neil primarily considers himself a visual observer but with such amazing and easy to use imaging systems available he now images with one setup while observing with another. Neil uses a modified Canon 1000D DSLR camera and the images he produces are excellent.

Duncan Kitchin

Duncan Kitchin

Duncan Kitchin has been taking astro images since 2003, starting with a point and shoot digital camera. Since 2005, he has been capturing deep sky images with a modified DSLR and various telescopes, switching more recently to a dedicated CCD camera. His current interests include capturing narrowband images from his back yard in heavily light polluted Beaverton.

David Haworth

David Haworth

David Haworth enjoys astronomy imaging and processing those images to bring out details that cannot be seen easily by visual observing with the same size optics. David Haworth started astroimaging with a Cookbook CCD camera he built in 1996 and since then has used many types of cameras to image the sky. David wrote Chapter 2: "Afocal Photography with Digital Cameras" in the second edition of "The Art and Science of CCD Astronomy" which was published in December 2005. David's images have appeared in magazine front covers, articles, books, catalogs, videos, music CD covers, T-shirts, other web sites, etc.