We have written these tutorials to help you master the AIP4Win image-processing software program included with this book. Each tutorial walks you through activities designed to clarify and reinforce the concepts that you have learned in the book. For the best learning experience, we recommend that you first follow each tutorial exactly as we have written it. Then repeat the tutorial while experimenting and trying out new processing variations using your own CCD images.
We find the best way to use these tutorials is to run AIP4Win on your computer as you follow the instructions in the book. You will find test images on the accompanying CD-ROM in the Tutorials directory. Each tutorial covers a specific set of program features and builds a specific set of image-processing skills; and, of course, each builds on the skills you have acquired in the previous ones. The tutorials are listed in Table C.l.
How to Install AIP4Win. If you have not installed AIP4Win on your computer, you must do so before you can run any tutorial. To install AIP4Win on your computer, remove the CDROM from its pocket in the back of the book. Insert the CDROM in your CDROM reader and the installation package will run automatically. If it does not run automatically, use the Windows Explorer to browse to the CDROM and double-click on the file "Setup.exe" and the installer will start.
The first time you run AIP4Win, the program will ask for your name plus the serial number. You will find your serial number on a sticker in the back of the book, below the CDROM. You MUST register your copy of AIP4Win within 30 days. To register, go to the Willmann-Bell website (http://www.willbell.com) and browse to the AIP4Win webpage. You will be asked to enter your name and serial number as well as the Installation Code provided by AIP4Win. You will receive a Registration Code that you should enter into the program. AlP4Win will run for up to 30 days if it has not been registered. After that it will not run until you have registered it.
Important: If you purchased the first edition of this book and installed A!P4Win 1.x on your computer, there is no need to remove it. You can keep the earlier version while installing and running AIP4Win 2.x. This allows you to learn AIP4Win 2.x without losing the familiar AIP4Win 1.x environment.
Using the Tutorials. To make the tutorials easier to follow, the typography highlights menu items and control buttons. Menu selections are printed in an italic typeface, and buttons are shown in sans-serif bold to make them stand out.
Whenever we suggest that you select an item on a drop-down menu, we write it as Menu\Submenu, meaning that you should select the Submenu item in the Menu. To open a file, we'll say, "click on File I Open Image." This means that you should click on File in the top menu bar, and then click on the Open Image item that appears on the drop-down menu. For deeper menu levels, we write, "Menu I Submenu I Submenu."
When you select menu items in AIP4Win, you often call a tool window. We think of tool windows (or "tools," for short) as the basic units of AIP4Win, just as each item in a carpenter's tool chest performs one of the basic functions of carpentry. The tool windows in AIP4Win operate on the currently selected image, using the settings that you make using the text boxes, sliders, check boxes, and buttons on the tool window. To make the names of buttons and other controls stand out clearly, we refer to them like this: Select Dark(s). Used in concert, the tool windows provide a powerful yet flexible software package.
Clicking on a menu item or a tool window button often brings up a dialog box, such as the familiar Windows dialog for opening a document or file. You must enter the information requested and then click the Okay or Cancel button. When a process is running, A\P4Wm sometimes displays a progress bar to let you know how much longer it will take, or a message box with information that you should be aware of. If you are familiar with the Windows operating system, these are undoubtedly already familiar features.
Many of the tool windows that you can access from the menus are also available on the toolbar. Although we tell you to make menu selections in these tutorials, you will probably want to learn and use the icons on the toolbar as well.
Before You Start... remember that AIP4Win is unique. It is a program conceived, designed, and optimized for processing astronomical images. A\P4Wm therefore offers unique tools and powerful functions for calibrating, track-and-stacking, image enhancement, and processing images in the spatial domain. AIP4Win was designed to handle both the dynamic range of deep-sky images and the restricted contrasts of planetary images. Its suite of measurement tools includes astrometric, photometric, and spectroscopic functions that are specific to celestial images. If you have used image processing programs designed for photographers and graphic artists, set aside your preconceptions and prepare to enter the world of Astronomical Image Processing.
About the images used in these tutorials. The images have been chosen to illustrate specific features of the program. All of the images were all taken by amateur astronomers using modest equipment. None were taken using expensive, high-end gear. Our goal in doing this was to give novice CCD imagers a feeling for what they can expect to accomplish with equipment that a novice might own. You will also notice that some of the images are on the small side. This was done so that your time can be spent learning from the tutorials rather than watching your computer crunch numbers in an 11 megapixel image.
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