What are data sets?
Astronomy data sets usually include a large number of unprocessed image files captured by a camera and telescope. They include multiple long exposure images often totalling several hours in length. For deep space images, data sets are frequently photographed using a combination of specialized filters with each targeting a specific band in the light spectrum. Some of the most commonly used filers include red (R), green (G), blue (B), luminance (L), hydrogen alpha (Ha), sulphur (SII) and oxygen (OIII).
What are remote telescopes?
There are some private, public and commercial observatories around the world that offer remote access (via internet) for amateur and professional astronomers and astro-imagers. These facilities are usually situated in excellent dark sky locations and offer access to premium telescopic and imaging equipment.
Remote users program the camera and telescope to target the region of sky that they want to image and wait to download the raw data files when the imaging session has been completed. Alternatively users can sometimes also select image data sets from archives of previously acquired night sky data.
Processing data sets
Once the multiple minutes/hours of digital information have been collected, the raw data file are transferred to the astronomer/astro-imager for stacking, calibration, processing and editing.
Final processing (or post processing) involves stretching the digital data using a variety of specialized astronomy and graphics applications. Detailed manual adjustments are made to convert the raw data into a complex night sky image. The process involves some knowledge of astronomy as well as equal measures of technical and artistic effort. With significant room for interpreting the light spectrums captured and a bit of creative licence, the results can yield vastly different looking images from one person to another.
Acknowledgement and Copyright
The raw data sets used on my Remote Telescope images page were all acquired by other individuals or organizations and were either purchased or otherwise authorized for my personal use. The individuals or organizations who originally captured the data sets retain all rights to the raw data, however all rights (copyright) to the final processed composition are the property of bluespeck.ca.
I wish to thank and acknowledge the individuals or organizations who have made access to these astronomy data sets possible. The wide range of location and equipment opens the window to additional observing and imaging experiences well beyond what I could access with my own gear and from my own urban backyard. From both an educational and artistic perspective, this provides exciting new challenges and opportunities to practice and expand my observational and astro-image processing skills. It is also just plain fun!