Creating Color Images - Explore, Discover, Observe
Have you ever looked at gorgeous images of space objects from the great
observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray
Observatory, Keck Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope? Have
you ever wondered how they made these images? Have you ever wanted to
know what these objects really look like? The goal of this project is
to help you understand the process of creating these images, from
beginning to the finished product.
Show or have students find color images from the
various large observatories(internet search). Discuss what the image is
showing: is it visible wavelengths, is it false color, do they think
this is what they would see if they traveled to the object?
Students will then choose objects to image. To do this they will
utilize any of a variety of common planetarium-style software. Examples
to use include, but are not limited to, The Sky or Starry Nights. To
successfully choose objects, they must set the software filters for
appropriate date, time, location, object type, and angular size.
Objects selected to image will be submitted to the HOU Image
Request Queue for imaging by the Yerkes Observatory 24" reflector
telescope. Objects should be requested to image in at least three
colors, r, v, b
Once imaged, the students will use the HOU-IDL software to compare & measure the images in the different wavelengths.
Next they will use the HOU-IDL software to correct the images for camera and filter sensitivity.
Finally, the HOU-IDL software will be used to combine the images to create a color image of each object.
As an extension, the students can use internet resources to obtain
images of the object in non-visible wavelengths and create a
false-color image of their object.
Real World Relevance
This project will show us that objects in space
look different in different wavelengths. This gives astronomers more
detailed information about a particular object. It also shows us why we
need to study objects in various wavelengths and why we need
observatories that image in many wavelengths. Finally, it helps us to
be critical thinkers when examining images of objects in space, so that
you question the source of the image and how color or false-color is
used in the presentation of the image.
Culminating Event or Product
Students will create a true color image of space
objects they selected for study. An extension event could be to create
a false color image of the same object using achived images from
Teacher Insights And Reflections