Imaging the Sky Conference 2012

Saturday-Sunday, May 5-6, 2012
Intel HF3 Auditorium
5200 NE Elam Young Parkway
Hillsboro, OR 97124 USA

Updated on May 3, 2012

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 is organized and implemented by Neil Heacock, Duncan Kitchin and David Haworth.

There is no registration fee but registration is required because seating is limited. To register send email with full name to Neil Heacock at neil@heacocks.com.

Presentations files are available at the download web page.

Schedule is Subject to Change

  • 9:15 to 9:30 am Sign-in  
  • 9:30 am: Solar Eclipses and Transit Excursions,
    Greg Babcock
    • I have been on 4 Total Solar Eclipse Excursions and I went on the 2004 Venus Transit Excursion in Greece. I imaged with Film Cameras on the first 3 Eclipses. For the 2004 Venus Transit and 2009 Asian Total Solar Eclipse, I imaged using simple “Webcam type” Cameras. I will discuss some of the image processing that took place. Also, I will briefly discuss some of the touring that took place that comes with traveling to see and image these events. Finally, I will cover the up-coming, Annular Solar Eclipse and Venus Transit. These will occur about 20 days apart in May and June of 2012. Both will be visible from the Pacific Northwest.

Solar Eclipses and Transit Excursions by Jim Greg Babcock

  • 10:00 am: An Introduction to Astrophotography for Terrestrial Photographers,
    Greg Marshall
    • If you are a photographer and want to continue shooting when the sun goes down, this presentation will tell you how to get started without getting overwhelmed by the science and terminology of astronomy.

night landscape by Jim Richardson

  • 11:00 am: Automating the Observatory,
    Miguel Casas
    • This presentation highlights the benefits & risks of an automated observatory. Regarding risks, we will learn from my mistakes, and we will explore counter-measures to protect your equipment from unplanned events

  • 12:00 pm Lunch on your own

Observatory by Miguel Casas

  • 1:00 pm: PixInsight Image Processing Software,
    Sean Curry
    • PixInsight is a powerful cross-platform program designed for astrophoto image processing. Sean will walk you through the PixInsight environment, and then demonstrate a typical LRGB processing workflow.

Observatory by Sean Curry

  • 3:00 pm: Better Acquisition - Cleaning Up Our Images,
    Neil Heacock
    • Do you have smearing, bloat and elongation in your images? Did the Bahtinov mask show your focus perfect, but the resulting image has fuzzy stars? Was your guiding excellent, but your stars elongated? We will examine methods for correcting these problems by identifying what the possible causes are and learning some practical solutions to minimize or eliminate the sources.

Thor's Helmet and M27 by Neil Heacock

  • 4:00 pm: Share Your Image Session by Attendees
    • This is the time for you to use the video projector and share your images to the audience.
    • A sign sheet for this session will be posted at the conference

  • End of Saturday Astro Gear Swap Meet
    • Sell your astro gear that you have not used in this millennium.
    • Buy astro gear that you cannot live without.

Sunday May 6, 2012

  • 10:00 am Optical Configurations for Astrophotography,
    Richard Berry
    • Optics are one of the keys to first-rate astro-imaging. After introducing the requirements for good imaging, I will describe the designs commonly used by amateurs, present a brief analysis of the performance that can be expected from a well-made instrument of each type, and discuss the weaknesses and strengths of each design. Please note I will not talk about the merits of different manufacturers, but instead about the properties of each type themselves based on inescapable physical and optical limitations of the system design. Included are achromatic refractors, apochromatic refractors, Newtonians, Cassegrains, RCs, SCTs, CDKs, and RHAs.

Celestron EdgeHD by Richard Berry

  • 11:00 am Astronomical Spectrographs
    David Haworth
    • Overview of different types of spectrographs and their results

  • 12:00 pm Lunch on your own

O2 Spectrum by David Haworth

  • 1:00 pm Variable Star Observing with CCD’s,
    Tim Crawford
    • American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
    • Why Observe and Some Of The Different Classifications
    • Matching Your CCD & Telescope to Local Seeing
    • The Importance Of Using a "V" Filter
    • Faint & Bright Target Considerations
    • Observing Options

Variable Star Observing with CCD’s by Tim Crawford

  • 2:00 pm Differential Photometry,
    Tim Crawford
    • Variable star Photometry & Instrumental Magnitudes
    • Data reduction Using Comparison Stars
    • Reporting measurements to the AAVSO

Differential Photometry by Tim Crawford

  • 3:00 pm Detecting Exoplanet Transits With Equipment You Already Own,
    Ken Hose
    • Equipment I have used
    • Basic equipment requirements
    • Step-by-step procedure and workflow
    • Summary of my transit data
    • Calculating orbital parameters from transit light curves

Photometry precision testing by Ken Hose

  • 4:00 pm Asteroid Light Curves and Occultations,
    Joe Garlitz
    • Asteroids provide a good opportunity for amateurs to make unique and valuable measurements of astronomical objects. When an asteroid occults a star, it is possible to make a direct measurement of its profile's size and shape. An asteroid's rotation period can be measured by taking a series of images and extracting the data with easily used software. Measuring the rotation period of an asteroid helps classify the object, determine its rotation orientation and with enough observations, allow a determination of its shape.

Asteroid Light Curve by Joe Garlitz

Richard Berry

Richard Berry

Richard Berry is an author, editor, and software programmer focused primarily on amateur astronomy. His books include a classic, Build Your Own Telescope, a popular introduction to observing, Discover the Stars, the acclaimed manual for big Dobs, The Dobsonian Telescope (with David Kriege), and the book best known to NEAIC attendees, The Handbook of Astronomical Image Processing (with Jim Burnell), which includes the Astronomical Image Processing for Windows (AIP4Win) software widely used for image processing as well as both photometry and astrometry.

At age 13, Richard built his first telescope (a 6-inch f/7 Newtonian) and moved on to construct an 8-inch f/10 planetary telescope, a 6-inch RFT, a 12-inch f/7 Newtonian, and an 8-inch Dall-Kirkham Cassegrain. He observed all of the planets, most of the Messier objects, and made deep inroads into the NGC catalog. In those distant days of darkroom chemistry and bromide paper, he specialized in lunar and planetary astrophotography.

After majoring in astronomy for his B.A. degree, Richard went on to present a thesis on photoelectric photometry earning an M.Sc. in astronomy. In the technology world, he has designed rocket payload instrumentation, measured air pollution (ozone and hydrogen sulfide) using a laser beam, and tested key components for the Ultraviolet Absorption experiment (MA-059) flown aboard the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

Switching from technology to editing, Richard served a ASTRONOMY magazine's Technical Editor, then Editor, and finally Editor-in-Chief, for sixteen years, and played a key role in building the fledgling magazine's circulation from 38,000 in 1976 to its peak at 252,000 in 1988. During his years at ASTRONOMY, Richard built a strong, effective, and knowledgeable editorial staff, and worked tirelessly to ensure that manufacturers present only honest and accurate claims in their advertisements.

During his years at ASTRONOMY, Richard founded and edited Telescope Making, a quarterly magazine devoted to the community of amateur telescope makers. From 1978 through 1991,Telescope Making introduced its readership to the Dobsonian telescope, the Poncet platform, tilted-component telescopes, and many examples of outstanding amateur observatories.

From 1992 to the present, Richard has written and coauthored a string of books about telescope making, imaging with CCD cameras, and image processing. He has given countless talks and participated in workshops at conferences around the world. His current book, due out this summer or fall, is a comprehensive ray-trace analysis of the telescope, eyepiece, and astrographic camera designs available to today's amateur astronomer.

Joe Garlitz

Joe Garlitz

Joe became interested in astronomy while in gradeschool, seeing the moon through a telescope he was hooked. He purchased an Edmund’s 3" reflector while in Jr. High and built an 8" Newtonian in highschool. He received a B.A. in Physics and worked on the Skylab Program for 5 years in Denver. In 1973 he and his wife move to Eastern Oregon. It took 2 decades before he was able to build the observatory of his dreams. As an amateur astronomer, Joe’s primary interest is in science. So far he has posted 38 exo-planet transits to the TRESCA database, viewed four dozen asteroid occultation events, measured three dozen asteroid rotation periods. While participating in a Pro-Am campaign looking for possible exo-planet transits of white dwarf stars, he discovered an un-catalogued eclipsing binary. Joe enjoys traveling to exotic places nearly as much as astronomy. Among his passport visas are India, Libya Egypt and Russia.

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 ever since. In 2006 Neil began to dabble in astrophotography and after attending the 2007 Northwest Astrophotography Conference his imaging stared a path to maturity. Neil is still an avid visual observer but with such amazing and easy to use imaging systems available he now images with one setup while observing with another. He runs the Yahoo DSLR Astro Image Processing group with 350+ members and mentors other astrophotographers both local and afar.

Tim Crawford

Tim Crawford

Tim became a visual variable star observer and joined the AAVSO in 2001. Following an introduction to astrophotography in 2003, he expanded his interest, equipment and skills to become a widely recognized premier CCD variable star observer serving both as a photometry mentor for AAVSO members and an active member of the AAVSO chart team. Tim has reported more than 100,000 photometric observations from CCD images to the AAVSO as of December, 2009. He is also an accomplished author of numerous articles in both amateur and professional astronomy publications, and boasts an impressive meteorite collection.

Sean Curry

Sean Curry

Sean Curry lives in the beautiful Wagner Valley in Southern Oregon. He got his first telescope upon moving there in 2002, and began imaging with a modified DSLR in 2006. Sean has recently upgraded his equipment to include an AP900 Mount, a Tak FSQ106, and a QSI 583wsg camera. He was also fortunate enough to receive his new PlaneWave CDK 12.5 this year, and is beginning to get a handle on longer focal length imaging. Sean supports his astronomy hobby as a Lecturer in GIS at Southern Oregon University, and as a researcher at the University of the Pacific.

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.

Greg Marshall

Greg Marshall

Greg Marshall has been an amateur photographer for some 40 years and started doing astro-photography in 2005. His professional career as an electronics engineer has mostly been involved with image capture, processing and printing. Now retired, he spends his free time capturing and processing images from his home observatory.

Ken Hose

Miguel Casas

Miguel Casa was born in Barcelona, Spain & came to the US in 1997. Miguel was introduced to photography & astrophotography by his father. Miguel is a member of ASTER (Astronomy Club in Barcelona, Spain) and is a member of Rose City Astronomers (Portland, OR). He has been doing urban astrophotography for almost 4 years.
Miguel Casas My Online Astronomy Journal

Ken Hose

Ken Hose

Ken Hose has been active in visual astronomy for the last 10 years or so. He now has an observatory and taken up astro-imaging. As an engineer, he has an interest in the scientific aspects of the hobby and has a special interest in detecting exoplanet transits.

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.