Imaging The Sky 2000 Conference

Imaging The Sky 2000   Imaging The Sky 2000

Imaging The Sky 2000 Conference
The Imaging The Sky 2000 Conference was an excellent conference on amateur astronomy CCD imaging. This year the conference had 75 people from Canada, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and New York. It was put on by Mel Bartels, Richard Berry, Jim Girard, Rick Kang, Nick Liepins and Dennis Luse.


Dave Kenyon

The conference started at 1:00 PM with Dave Kenyon, Sierra College Professor, presenting CCD 101 - From Photons to Monitors, a beginner' session on CCD astroimaging. Dave covered the basic knowledge needed for CCD astroimaging. This included CCD design and operation, dark frame calibration, flat field calibration, CCD temperature vs. noise, telescope mount configurations, telescope balancing, polar alignment, focusing masks aids, and other CCD astroimaging concepts.

In the next session Dave Kenyon presented Selecting Hardware Components for Image Acquisition Systems: Matching Mounts, Tube Assemblies, and Cameras. This audience interactive session covered what types of equipment the conference attendees were using. The telescopes used by the attendees included Optical Guidance Systems (OCS) Ritchey-Chretien telescopes, Astro-Physics refractor telescopes, Takahashi FS-128/FS-104/FSQ-106 refractor telescopes, Celestron CG-11 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, Meade LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, home made motor driven Alt-Az Newton telescopes, etc.

Richard Berry

Richard Berry, author of The CCD Camera Cookbook book, Choosing and Using a CCD Camera book, and The Handbook of Astronomical Imaging Processing book, presented Extracting Information from Images: An Overview of Imaging Processing. Richard covered extracting location, brightness, stellar types, image detail and color spectroscopy from CCD images. Richard used the new Astronomical Imaging Processing (AIP) for Windows software in his presentation. AIP for Windows software will be available starting November 2000 with The Handbook of Astronomical Imaging Processing book by Richard Berry and James Burnell.

Jim Girard

After dinner, Jim Girard presented a short memorial to Dennis Luse, one of the original conference organizers and avid astroimager, who passed away a week before the conference.

Al Kelly

Al Kelly presented High End Results with Low End Hardware: Successful Home-brew Imaging. Al shared the construction details of two of his home made motor driven Alt-Az Newton telescopes, Alt-Az guide scope designs, low cost autoguider and the Cookbook CB-245 CCD camera.

Nick Liepins
Mac Gardiner

Late Friday evening there were short individual show and tell presentations.

  • Dave Kenyon presented Spectroscopy with CCD's. Dave showed how spectroscopy is used with a CCD camera and the information it provides on stars, M57, etc.
  • Nick Liepins presented An Observatory for Urban Imaging. Nick presented the construction of a backyard observatory for his Mead LX200 and CCD camera. Also later that evening, Nick remotely controlled his SBIG camera in his observatory from a laptop at the conference using the Internet.
  • Mac Gardiner presented Update on the ISS Amateur Telescope. Mac described the beginnings of an amateur telescope project for the ISS. 2006 is the planned date of operation. Mac is looking for amateur astronomers' support for this project.
  • David Haworth presented Nikon Coolpix 990 Digital Camera Astroimaging. David showed the disadvantages and advantages of using the Nikon 990 for astroimaging. Also, the details of his presentation were on Image the Sky 2000 CD-ROM and his web site.
  • Phil Sullivan presented Comet Giacobini-Zinner animation with CB-245.

Friday evening was wrapped up with the handing out the images for the ITS 2000 image processing challenge.


Session breaks

Saturday morning started off with coffee, juice and donuts. Session breaks provided time to further explore CCD imaging techniques with the presenters and other attendees. Saturday morning coffee, juice, donuts and noon lunch was included in the conference registration fee.

Joe Patterson

Joe Patterson, Columbia University Astronomy Professor, presented The Center for Backyard Astrophysics - Pro-Am Collaboration on Research of Cataclysmic Variables. Joe covered current research on Cataclysmic Variables, current research on superhumps and how amateur astronomers around the world were contributing valueable data to Cataclysmic Variables research. More information is at http://cba.phys.columbia.edu

Wayne Brown

Wayne Brown , President of Apogee Instruments, presented CCD Imaging Systems Technology. His presentation included quantum efficiency of various CCD detectors, single image color imaging, pixel sizes, and other aspects of CCD cameras. Wayne brought a AP-16 camera which had a 4K X 4K chip (38mm on a side) and a LISAA Guider camera to the conference.

AP10 and LISAA Guider cameras
Doug George

Doug George, head of Cyanogen Productions, presented A Technical Comparison of Various CCD Sensors. Doug showed how different sources of noise can dominated a CCD camera configuration and how signal-to-noise ratio is calculated. Doug's noise analysis spreadsheet snr.xls is on Cyanogen Productions web site.

Benoit Schillings

Benoit Schillings presented The Quest for Highest Resolution Images. Benoit covered atmospheric seeing effects, the SBIG AO-7 Adaptive Optics System development history and AO-7 operation experiences. Benoit showed experimental adaptive optics equipment used to test adaptive optics concepts. Also, Benoit showed how resampling an image and combining multiple images improved image resolution versus just combining multiple image.

Richard Berry in the Software lab

Late Saturday afternoon breakout sessions included Evaluation of Off-The-Shelf Systems, Do-It-Yourself Systems, and Image Acquisition and Procession Software lab


The results of the ITS 2000 Image Processing Challenge were presented at the Saturday afternoon wrap-up session. I missed the wrap-up session because I was late leaving the Image Acquisition and Procession Software lab.

Projects, CD-ROM and Location

Royce Tivel CB-245

Cookbook CB-245 Camera
Royce Tivel setting up his Cookbook CB-245 camera and Royce brought his motor driven Alt-Az Newton telescope to the conference.

Light Box

Light Box
Jim Girard showed a light box he built a for taking flat field frames for image processing calibration.


Mel Bartels created an Image the Sky 2000 CD-ROM that was given to each conference attendee. The CD-ROM included the following information:

  • Mel Bartels' 1,368 file astronomy library of information,
  • David Haworth's ITS 1999 and 2000 presentation information
  • Joe Garlitz's The Sky in Motion (Venus, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and comets movies)
  • Rob West's M27, M51 and M57 images.
Tokyo International University of America

Conference Location
Imaging The Sky 2000 Conference was held at Tokyo International University of America's campus in Salem, Oregon, USA on November 3 and 4, 2000.