Frequently Asked Questions
» Where did these images come from?
» Your images look awfully dark. What's wrong with them?
» Do these images show the objects as they really look?
» If we can't really see these objects, what then do the colors mean?
» Do you "sharpen" your images?
» Why do you keep saying "we" when you describe the image-making process?
» Are these image protected under copyright?
» How often do you release images?
» How can I get the full-resolution version of one of your images?
» Do you sell posters or prints of your images?
» May I use one of your images on my website/product/etc?
» What is the maximum resolution of your images?
» How can I contact you?
Where did these images come from?(Top)
These images were generated from data collected with the research-class telescopes at Gemini Observatory, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Some of the images also incorporate data from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Some of these images were generated from data obtained for my research, but most were generated to demonstrate the technical capabilites of the telescopes. They are of course also intended to share with people the natural beauty of the astronomical objects we study.
Your images look awfully dark. What's wrong with them?(Top)
Most computer monitors are not calibrated and tend to show images darker than they should appear. Please see this page to learn more about how to calibrate your monitor. Its quick and easy. And it will greatly enhance your enjoyment of these images.
Do these images show the objects as they really look?(Top)
As with any astronomical image, the answer is always no. Telescopes serve three purposes: to magnify an object, to collect light from faint objects, and to detect kinds of light our eyes cannot see. Telescopes magnify an image much like a pair of binoculars does (making you feel "closer to the action.") But for the most part these images are of objects that are much too faint for a person to see, even if he or she were much closer to it. Furthermore, many of these images are generated from cameras that see other kinds of light, such as infrared light and radio waves. In a sense, telescopes give us "super human" vision. They can see things we can't. Indeed, that's why we build them!
If we can't really see these objects, what then do the colors mean?(Top)
When making an image in effect we are translating what the telescope can see into something our eyes can see. In the process of generating an image we assign different colors to each dataset that we use. (See this page for a description of how it works.) Where possible we assign colors to each dataset that roughly correspond to what the human eye would see (e.g., if we used a blue filter when obtaining a dataset we assign a blue color to that dataset). In the case of kinds of light we cannot see, we assign colors in a way that maximizes the detail within the object and naturally conveys the nature of the object. We also of course choose color combinations in a way that looks good.
Do you "sharpen" your images?(Top)
With the exception of a few images, the answer is no. While using image sharpening techniques can make an image look better, it also modifies the structure in the image in a way that is not necessarily real. Except for removing defects in the data and artifacts from the data reduction process, we do not alter any of the structure in the images. Again, the goal is to show these objects as our telescopes see them.
Why do you keep saying "we" when you describe the image-making process?(Top)
Like most things in astronomy, generating these images is usually a team effort. The names of the astronomers involved is given on the information page for each object.
Are these image protected under copyright?(Top)
Yes. Please read the copyright to learn more about how you may use these images.
How often do you release images?(Top)
I do not release images on a fixed timetable. They are released when they are ready. If you are interested in being notified when a new image is added to the website, please send me an email via the contact page and check the box below your email address. I promise not to release your name or address to anyone else. It will not be used for any other purpose.
How can I get the full-resolution version of one of your images?(Top)
A link to a full-resolution version of the image is included on the information page for most of the deep-sky images. For the wide-field and panorama images you can contact me if you want a full resolution image. I do this to retain some control over their use.
Do you sell posters or prints of your images?(Top)
I do not but others do. The Kitt Peak Visitor's Center sells posters of many of the images taken with the Kitt Peak telescopes. Other services online sell prints of many of my images. I don't make any money from these services. If a full-resolution image is available online you're free to print your own.
May I use one of your images on my website/product/etc?(Top)
My images are copyrighted. Please read the copyright to learn more about how you may use these images.
What is the maximum resolution of your images?(Top)
It depends on the image. The images vary from 4 megapixels to 128 megapixels in size. If you want a high-resolution version of an image please contact me.
How can I contact you?(Top)
You're welcome to contact me. Please use the contact page.