Introduction

The genesis of the IRIS software is a long story. Its ancestor was born in the middle of the 1980s, when the first experimental CCD cameras for amateurs were appearing. It was written for the Apple III computer, in assembly language, and had the capacity to process images with a size up to 128 x 128 pixels! As more and more powerful cameras arrived on the scene, there was an increasing need for more image-processing power. IRIS steadily grew and took the form of what it is today: running on the Windows platform and able to process images of several thousand pixels. IRIS is freeware and can be downloaded from the Internet at the following address:

http://www.astrosurf.com/buil/iris/iris.htm.

This chapter is a quick overview of the philosophy and possibilities of IRIS. First and foremost, IRIS software is primarily orientated to the processing and scientific analysis of images. Final presentation functions are generally few in number as these are well covered with common graphics software. However, these processes are generally nonlinear, which destroys the photometry of the image content, so it is important just to use them for final touching up. Nevertheless, in the latest release, IRIS does have some processing and display functions for true color images, as the use (and importance) of new digital cameras is growing in astronomical observation. We will come back to this topic at the end of the chapter.

Figure 6.1. Christian Buil and the T60 telescope at the Pic du Midi Observatory.

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