Astronomy image processing contest

Discussion in 'Java' started by Joe Snodgrass, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. Prize is a trip to ESO observatory in Chile

    When professional astronomers gather around the proverbial water
    cooler, I'll bet the conversation sometimes turns to all the help
    they're getting these days from amateurs around the world. It's not
    just the terrific job you do observing planets, supernovae, and
    comets; you also help out behind the scenes with image- and data-
    processing skills.

    (As just one example, check out this amazing morphing animation
    created by Daniel MacháÄek from just five images from the recent flyby
    of Comet Hartley 2.)

    ESO's Hidden Treasures contest
    The European Southern Observatory invites do-it-yourself image
    dabblers to explore its archives and submit entries in its Hidden
    Treasures photo contest, which ends November 30th.

    Hoping to tap into all that image-processing prowess, officials at the
    European Southern Observatory have launched the Hidden Treasures
    contest to see who can create the most wonderful views of the cosmos
    from archived imaging data.

    ESO's astronomers have amassed a rich trove of gorgeous cosmic vistas
    over the years, so there's plenty of material to work with. What I
    especially like about Hidden Treasures is how it empowers those of you
    who love great astrophotography but might not have the gear and gizmos
    to do it (or do it well) yourself.

    "We normally publish these images ourselves for the public to admire,
    such as the ESO Top 100," explains outreach specialist Oana Sandu.
    "However, this time we wanted the public to have the opportunity to
    process images just like professional astronomers do, and to try to
    obtain their own amazing views of our universe."

    Be forewarned: there's lots of slogging involved in the Hidden
    Treasures competition. "This is not for the faint-hearted," the
    contest's website notes. "Many terabytes of data are available,
    spanning many years, different instruments and technologies. The
    individual files in the archive are each single exposures, obtained
    through a single filter. They need to be extensively processed and
    combined to bring out the beauty hidden in there."

    OK, this is way out of my league — but I know many of you can do it!

    So why should you?

    Very Large Telescope in Chile
    Picture yourself here! It's sunset, and four giant instruments spring
    to life at the Very Large Telescope atop Cerro Paranal in Chile.
    (Three of them, named Antu, Kueyen, and Melipal, are seen here.) Each
    has a primary mirror 27 feet (8.2 m) across).

    S&T: J. Kelly Beatty
    For a chance at first prize: an all-expenses-paid trip to ESO's
    amazing Very Large Telescope atop Cerro Paranal in Chile — including
    an overnight stay to participate in one of the observing runs!

    I visited the VLT in late 2003, and I can attest that it's an amazing
    place (as is Chile in general). Runner-up prizes include an iPod
    Touch, laser-engraved glass cubes with a model of the VLT, and Eyes on
    the Skies book-DVD combos.

    The concept is simple. First, you identify and retrieve a data set
    from the ESO's science archive. Then you combine and process the
    images in any way you wish (the official rules are here — one taboo:
    no "painting†allowed). Then save your masterpiece and submit it as a
    moderate-size JPEG file. You can pool resources with others to enter
    as a team, and you can enter as many images as you wish.

    The deadline for submissions is November 30th at 23:00 Universal Time
    (that's midnight CEST, 6 p.m. EST, and 3 p.m. PST). Entries will be
    judged for their aesthetic quality, processing quality, and
    originality by ESO astronomer Olivier Hainaut and imaging specialists
    Richard Hook, Davide de Martin, and Lars Lindberg Christensen.

    Of course, the devil is in the details. "The competition is
    challenging," Sandu admits. "Candidates need to be able to master
    technical skills and to have a creative mind as well." But the website
    provides full support for accessing the archive and even links to a
    list of image-processing programs.

    So good luck to you and your pixel-picking pluck!
    Joe Snodgrass, Nov 19, 2010
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