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Special Section—Selected Papers from IS&T's Tenth Color Imaging Conference
Volume: 47 | Article ID: art00009
The Colors of the Deep Sky
  DOI :  10.2352/J.ImagingSci.Technol.2003.47.6.art00009  Published OnlineNovember 2003

The equipment needed to take astronomical images of deep sky objects, those faint targets found only with optical assistance, is within the reach of dedicated amateur astronomers. In such low light levels there is no color, strictly, but there is a natural desire to make these images look as they might appear if our vision were sensitive enough to perceive color. This is a component of esthetic presentation, and the use of color for this subject is extremely useful in education. CCD imaging equipment allows us to record and measure the spectral energy in a specific band determined by a filter placed in front of the sensor. By making several such recordings through red, green, blue, and sometimes additional filters, a full color composite can be created. Of particular interest are emission nebulas, whose spectra comprise the lines of energized gases. These are present in a scene along with the broadband blackbody emissions of stars. Because the spectra of these objects are simple or well known, they can be modeled and their recordings calibrated. Conventional color science methods can then be used to generate colorimetrically correct renditions of the scene.

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Thor Olson, "The Colors of the Deep Skyin Journal of Imaging Science and Technology,  2003,  pp 517 - 524,

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Copyright © Society for Imaging Science and Technology 2003
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