Make Your Own Whirlpool with NASA's Astrophoto Challenges: Open June - July 2019
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Wesleyan Univ./R. Kilgard et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI

Join NASA's Universe of Learning for an exciting opportunity to use real astronomical data and tools to create your own beautiful images of the iconic Whirlpool Galaxy (M51). You can capture your own real-time telescope image of the Whirlpool using the MicroObservatory robotic telescope network, or you can work with an archived set of NASA data files of M51, taken with 4 multi-wavelength space telescope missions: Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and GALEX.
image of a robotic remote telescope with sample result galaxy photos
Capture and process your own images with the MicroObservatory robotic telescope network. 
Credit: SAO

NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges provide learners of all familiarity levels authentic experiences using NASA astrophysics data.  Participants in the challenges engage in the scientific practices of a scientist through the data tools and experiences in creating and sharing their composite images.   
 
photo of students processing astronomical data using NASA tools
Participants working with NASA data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
Credit: Image courtesy of SAO/Timothy Smith Network
 
NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges include instructions on how to turn the data into beautiful composite images with a simple and free web-based image processing tool used by professional astronomers.  The JS9 image processing tool is widely used by the astronomical community to process and analyze the data from the world’s premiere research telescopes.  NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges use a version of this tool, JS9-4L, developed for life-long learners with a range of experiences using data.
 
Galaxy image made from composite of non-visible wavelength data
Create your own composite image with the JS9-4L image processing tool.
Credit: SAO
 
Participants are encouraged to view the NASA press-release versions of the Whirlpool Galaxy hosted on AstroPix.  By comparing and contrasting their own creations with the press-release versions, participants in the challenge gain an understanding of the variety of ways a scientist can use image processing to enhance specific features within an image.
 
 
Gallery of sample Whrlpool Galaxy images on Astropix
Compare and contrast your image with those from official NASA press-releases, hosted on AstroPix.
Credit: NASA’s Universe of Learning
The challenges also feature short videos by professional astronomers.  These subject matter experts provide science content knowledge of the electromagnetic spectrum and the Whirlpool galaxy.  Submit your creations to the challenges and they may be highlighted as standout entries commented on by NASA experts.

Enter the challenge here: https://mo-www.cfa.harvard.edu/OWN/astrophoto.  This challenge is open from June 1 - July 31, 2019.

You can also learn more about other opportunities to discover the universe for yourselves at NASA's Universe of Learning:  https://www.universe-of-learning.org/

Last Updated: June 21, 2019
 
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