Data to Pictures to Data: Outreach Imaging Software and Metadata

Levay, Zolt

A convergence between astronomy science and digital photography have enabled a steady stream of visually rich imagery from state-of-the-art data. The accessibility of hardware and software has facilitated an explosion of astronomical images for outreach, from space-based observatories, ground-based professional facilities and among the vibrant amateur astrophotography community. Producing imagery from science data involves a combination of custom software to understand FITS data (FITS Liberator), off-the-shelf, industry-standard software to composite multi-wavelength data and edit digital photographs (Adobe Photoshop) and application of photo/image-processing techniques. Some additional effort is needed to close the loop and enable this imagery to be conveniently available for various purposes beyond web and print publication. The metadata paradigms in digital photography are now complying with FITS and science software to carry information such as keyword tags and world coordinates, enabling these images to be usable in more sophisticated, imaginative ways exemplified by Sky in Google Earth and World Wide Telescope.

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