Astro 9A/B/C: Astrophotography - Syllabus

Fall 2016



Instructor: Rick Nolthenius
Textbook: (Suggested, not required) "Photoshop Astronomy" by Scott Ireland

Office Hours (room 706a)
11-noon, 6-7pm at the Observatory
Tue 6:30-7:30pm at 706a (cloudy), or the Observatory (clear)
Wed 11-noon at 706a (cloudy) or the Observatory (clear)
Fri 5-6pm at the Observatory, but confirm with me first.


Nightly Schedule

Photo Project Ideas


You will turn in your 6 best photo projects. All 6 must be submitted as .jpg images at 72 dpi scale sized close to 1024x768, emailed to the instructor along with complete labels describing the taking and processing of the images (more below). These will be posted by me on our Gallery Page to show off to the internet world! Of these six, one must be mounted and framed and brought into class on the final exam day, and will also help make for a great class image. This framed image must include a typed label on the front with your name, object, date and exposure. On the back of the frame must be another much longer typed description of the conditions, location, camera, etc on the night of the photo, and also all the digital processing steps you used. Digital images are submitted by email to me as full resolution .jpg's. You must also email the gallery label for every photo, and another typed description of all the software and steps done in producing the final image. So, to summarize - here are the deliverables for each of your 6 images:
- a .jpg image at ~1024x768 at 72 pixels per inch scale, emailed to me
- a thumbnail version of the same image, scaled to 3 inches across in Photoshop
- a complete description of the taking of the image. See details page here) followed by a complete description of all your processing steps and decisions. This description must NOT be FORMATTED! Compose it to me in a plain old email and send it. You can then copy/paste that same description into a Word Processing package and make it look pretty for attaching to your framed image on the back side.


Please read this page carefully and follow all instructions carefully if you want full points on grading of your images! An example of a framed digital image with labels is on the processing instructions page. Your projects must include:
* At least one image taken on the 12" Dome telescope at Cabrillo Observatory
* Up to 3 images taken with a digital SLR camera; either your own, or our Nikone D7000 or Canon Rebel's
* One high magnification close up of the moon, at Cabrillo Observatory (using our 10" SCT or 8" f/4 telescope)


Most of your grading will come from proper execution and submission of your imaging projects. Here's how those submissions will be graded...


Digital Images Submitted (6 submissions total)
28 1024 size jpg, sent to instructor, properly sized and scaled as email attachment, processed with proper software skills.
4 3 inch thumbnail of the jpg, sent to instructor as email attachment
22 Label for the on-line gallery, with proper detail, made in NotePad w/o formatting, sent to me as email attachment
50 pts TOTAL
Printed and Framed Photos Grading (1 submissions total)
15 8"x10" print of image, using glossy quality photo paper (not standard letter paper off your home printer!)
5 print matches jpg in proper brightness - you MUST be self-assertive with Bay Photo people! Refuse to pay for a too-dark print!
12 Image is set in 8"x10" frame that's reasonable (plain but decent frames can be had for ~$5 at Walgreens).
6 printed (not handwritten) front label placed under glass in frame (don't scotch tape it to the front, that's tacky!!), with proper content
8 printed back label taped or glued to the back of the frame, with proper content
50 pts TOTAL


Component Percentage of your Course Grade
Photo Projects Above 75%
Classroom Labs 5%
Classroom Quizzes 15%
Work Ethic 5%
Total: 100%

Grade Scale

A= 85% and above
B=73% and above
C=62% and above (also equals "Pass")
D=50% and above


Students with Learning Disabilities
Students with learning disabilities needing accommodations should contact the instructor ASAP. As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), accommodations are provided to insure equal opportunity for students with verified disabilities. If you need assistance with an accommodation, please contact Disabled Student services, Room 810, 479-6379, or Learning Skills Program Room 1073, 479-6220.

Student Learner Outcomes
For Astro 9A
1. Operate computer systems to control professional telescope mounts and CCD cameras in an observatory setting.
2. Judge and select astronomical targets using sky presentation software to determine the characteristics of candidates and their observability in the local sky.
3. Experiment with and execute basic Photoshop techniques to stack and adjust digital images.

for Astro 9B
1. Plan and execute an imaging session with a digital SLR camera for astronomical application.
2. Experiment with advanced Photoshop techniques to creatively re-imagine astrophotography subjects.
3. Evaluate and implement the best color extraction technique for a given photographic subject.
4. Assemble compositing and image processing software techniques to stack and process digital astrophotographs.

for Astro 9C
1. Design and execute an experiment creatively optimizing an astrophotography technique, using scientific principles, and describe to the class.
2. Operate computer systems to control professional telescope mounts and CCD cameras in an observatory setting, especially for high-magnification and nebular astrophotography.
3. Mastering afocal projection and optical zoom on the videocam + telescope setup to capture video sequences of the moon and planets.
4. Master software techniques to frame-select, optimize, stack, and process digital video sequences into a final digital image.