Imaging Techniques

In digital imaging, good equipment is only half of the story. The other half of is employing good technique in using that equipment. In this chapter, we use the word technique in two senses: its general meaning, "the manner in which technical details are treated;" and its specific meaning, "a body of technical methods (as in a craft or scientific research)."

In astronomical imaging, good technique embraces:

• accurate polar alignment,

• correct exposure, and

• making calibration frames.

Knowing how to learn from experience is the foundation of all good imaging no matter what technology you are using; it is the essence of developing good technique. The items on the list are techniques, specific methods that you can apply to image making. These occupy the first half of the chapter.

In the second half, we review techniques for deep-sky imaging and lunar/ planetary imaging. Deep-sky images by amateurs now rival the best work professional astronomers could produce a few decades ago. The famous Palomar Observatory Sky Survey carried out with the 48-inch Oschin Schmidt camera using what was then the world's most advanced photographic emulsion is now routinely bettered by amateurs with 8- and 10-inch telescopes. Also, a few years ago, CCD users stunned the world of amateur astronomy by proving that CCDs (and now webcams) can record more detail than skilled visual planetary observers. We'll help you see what it takes to push your results into the realm of high-resolution lunar and planetary imaging.

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