Take AstroPhotos Like the Pros

Cabrillo Youth Summer Institute


Mon-Fri Aug 12-16, 2013


Outline of our Planned Activities

Freeware: Registax (use the "Registax 6 Available" link partway down the page) , CCDOPS and C2A

Free Photoshop CS2!

Choosing a DeepSky Object to Photograph

PhotoShop Example Worked Through

Looking Back on Our Adventure: Gallery Page

Welcome! I'm really excited to be offering this new Cabrillo College Extension class. I have a strong interest in encouraging bright youngsters to enter a career in science - the world needs you! In this 5 session class, you'll learn how to operate a modern computerized telescope and camera at a modern astronomical observatory. Parents and their young astronomers will sit at our main observatory computer - affectionately named "Spock" - and I will show you how to tell Spock to control the telescope, control our sensitive CCD camera, and get the scope aimed at a deep sky wonder of your choice, and the moon too, which will be growing from cresent to gibbous each night this week. Each young astronomer gets his turn to take an astronomical photograph. We begin the first evening by opening up the dome, powering on the various systems, getting the computer, camera, telescope mount, and software to all talk to each other nicely. Then each student will have the opportunity to choose a deep sky wonder (I'll have suggestions if you prefer), direct the telescope to the right place in the sky, fine tune the position so as to "compose" your image, fine tune the tracking as your object slowly moves west during the exposure, and then begin the exposure. We'll then show you how to subtract "dark noise" from your image, "flat field" your image, and convert it to glorious color. These photographs will take about 10 minutes of light-gathering each - things in the sky are faint! No snapshots like in normal daylight. Each imaging young student will require about 25 minutes for this process. While you're waiting your turn you can follow along watching your compadres, or you can enjoy the dark night sky from outside the door to the observatory, where we'll have a portable telescope and volunteers to help you enjoy and learn about the stars, nebulae, and galaxies that fill the night skies.

Classes start at 6pm, in daylight, and we'll first meet in room 705 where we'll work on the previous night's creations. As we get towards twilight, we'll head up to the observatory. I'll have a volunteer or two to help show you the stars through visual telescopes too, as you wait for the moment to get your own turn at the Big Scopes. You'll team up on our lab computers and I'll show you how to make your creations shine.

Below are examples of the kind of images you can expect to get, if we have clear skies.

A bright spiral galaxy in the Big Dipper

The "DumbBell Nebula"

A trio of galaxies in Draco

The fading glow of gas escaping a newly dead star - the Crystal Ball nebula

The Cresent Nebula - expanding hydrogen gas from a dying star


Directions to Cabrillo Observatory.

The dirt road to the observatory is under the trees, traced by the "x"'s. The entrance to that dirt road is on Soquel drive, right next to the west entrance to the upper campus. There are no signs.

Our observatory occupies the last slice of dark environment on campus. - not a single light can be seen from the rest of campus or rural homes. We're at the end of a dirt road which was put in long ago to service the wells which supply water to the campus. "Well Rd" looks like a dirt driveway and is easy to miss. You enter it from Soquel Drive. It is halfway between the entrance to the circle drive around the upper campus, and Porter Gulch Rd (which has the Beth El community center on the left). Do NOT drive up Porter Gulch Road! That is not Cabrillo Property. We're on a little dirt road which heads straight into that tall grove of eucalyptus trees. The entrance is a driveway crossing the sidewalk. It is perhaps 25 ft west of the entrance to the circle drive (west entrance) around the upper campus. Here's a Google Earth image which will help you.