NEAIC brings you best and most renowned astro-imagers that the industry has to offer. Learn techniques and secrets from the most successful and acclaimed imagers.
America's Premier Astro
Images by Rob Gendler
Alan Friedman is an artist and astrophotographer who records our neighborhood star from his backyard in Buffalo, NY. He is a four time recipient of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year awards hosted by the Royal Observatory and his solar portraits have been featured in the exhibition of the same name at the National Maritime Museum i
Solar To The Max
in Greenwich, England. His photography has been the subject of books, lectures, a TEDx talk and featured on NASA’s popular website Astronomy Photograph of the Day (APOD). Alan’s work has been exhibited nationally, including a collaborative show Fire and Ice and a solo show Into the Light which was mounted at the Palm Court Gallery, Orange County, CA in conjunction with the Solar Decathlon.
By day, Alan is president and CEO of Great Arrow Graphics, a greeting card publisher. He is a research associate at the Buffalo Museum of Science and a director of the Buffalo Astronomical Association.
Talk Description: The sun is a unique and rewarding subject for the astrophotographer. It can be studied in different wavelengths, imaged from almost any location and can be presented in different ways to portray our star in a unique and compelling light. The sun is now well along on its journey to maximum activity (predicted 2023-2026). Now is the perfect time to hone our solar imaging skills for the opportunities to come. This talk will discuss technical and creative considerations in solar imaging with the goal of exercising those solar “muscles” and preparing for the increase in activity that lies just around the corner.
Worm your Way to the Stars - Field Automation for Portable Astroimaging
Alex Gorbachev worked on solar adaptive optics in a physics lab in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until 2013 that he owned a telescope and became interested in Astro imaging as a lifelong hobby. He is active in deep space, planetary, and solar imaging.
Alex is a member of Northern Virginia Astronomy Club, and volunteers with NOVAC’s Almost Heaven Star Party, as well as at the Smithsonian Institution’s outreach programs. He coaches a local middle school robotics team.
Professionally, Alex owns a company that designs open source private and hybrid cloud data centers. He lives in a Bortle 7 suburb of Washington DC, with his family. His other hobbies are coffee roasting and extraction, 3D printing, machining, and cooking.
Talk Description: Worm your Way to the Stars - Field Automation for Portable Astro imaging
Have you ever traveled to a dark site, only to spend most of the night aligning your gear, or fallen asleep only to find out that the target has slipped too low, or the scope is stuck on a meridian flip? While we consider ourselves bound by the limitations of our gear, free and open source solutions exist that allow us to improve and enhance our experience, maximizing integration time, and freeing us up from unnecessary work. In this session, Alex Gorachev will present the results of several years of 3D printing, design, and programming work, which applies to both field portable and stationary setups to achieve:
● Robotic automated polar alignment using off the shelf parts and open source software
● Automating quality and weather sensing during imaging
● Automating flats using Alnitak Flip-Flat and Python code
● Automatic target selection, workflow, and meridian flip
● CAD and 3D Printing of accessories
Alyssa Pagan is a Science Visuals Developer in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in art and design from Towson University and a second bachelor’s in Astronomy from the
Webb Imagery, The Art and Science in Translating Cosmic Infrared Light
University of Maryland, College Park. Leveraging art and science, Alyssa applies an in-depth technical understanding of image formats, image quality, resolution, color management, metadata, and photo printing, along with the principles of photography and design to the presentation of astronomical data. She aims to produce color images of space that are both scientifically informed and aesthetically compelling in an effort to make the universe and our understanding of it more accessible, inspiring and engaging. Previously Alyssa was a teaching assistant at the University of Maryland under Professor Melissa Hayes where she directed lab sessions designed to introduce students to image processing and observational techniques in photometry, astrometry, period finding and spectroscopy, developed matlab code, and assisted students with data acquisition from the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory.
Talk Description: The amazing visions from the Webb Space Telescope have captivated the world. However, there is a long and involved process by which the scientist's black and white observational data are transformed into dynamic color imagery for the public. Join image specialist Alyssa Pagan as she discusses and demonstrates, in detail, the art and science of translating infrared light from acquiring the data to creating a color composite. Further, she will highlight the significance of seeing the universe in IR and the importance of creating imagery in the first place, in serving to educate, engage and inspire.
Ann Zabludoff, PhD
Discovering the Sources of Gravitational Waves with Pro-Am Collaborations
Pennsylvania native, Professor Zabludoff obtained S.B. degrees in Physics (1986) and in Mathematics (1987) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University in 1993. After post-
doctoral work, she joined the faculty in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona (UA) in 1999. She is a member of UA’s Data Science Institute, with interests in machine learning, image analysis, and large-scale visualization. She is currently taking her sabbatical year as the Woltjer Scientist at Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory, Columbia University.
She has led a wide range of studies across extragalactic astronomy and cosmology, exploring the first generation of stars and galaxies, galaxy transformation, gravitational lensing, dark matter, the intergalactic medium, galactic nuclear activity, galactic spectral classification, the baryon budget of the Universe, stellar disruption by supermassive black holes, and the evolution of structure. Her research involves analyses of large observational databases and theoretical cosmological simulations. She has worked on adaptations of astronomical instruments for new science.
Professor Zabludoff was a J. S. Guggenheim Foundation Fellow in 2013-14 and the Caroline Herschel Distinguished Visitor at the Space Telescope Science Institute during 2011–2013. She has been an invited visitor at institutes around the world, given review talks at more than twenty-five international conferences on a broad array of topics, and discussed new ways to detect the most distant galaxies in a TEDx talk. She has held leadership positions advising the NSF, NASA, and international research institutes on programs, facilities, and postdoctoral fellowships. She has mentored numerous junior scientists, with whom she continues to collaborate.
Talk Description: Professor Zabludoff will discuss how professional and non-professional astronomers can work together to rapidly discover—perhaps within five minutes of the alert—the optical counterparts of new gravitational wave events. A quick response is critical for understanding the physics of the binary merger that produces the gravitational waves. She and her group are seeking to identify interested citizen observers world-wide.
N.I.N.A. At Version 2: Advanced Sequencer and the Plugin System.
Dale Ghent is a contributor to the N.I.N.A. open-source astro-imaging software suite as well as the author of several plugins for it. With a 25-year career in the enterprise mass storage systems and infrastructure fields, Dale brings his experience
Dr. Dennis M. Conti
The Wacky World of Exoplanets and How We Discover Them
Dennis Conti is a retired telecommunications professional and an amateur astronomer with a strong interest in exoplanet research. In 2015, he founded the AAVSO’s Exoplanet Section and has continued as section leader since. Dennis is also
and passion for technical problem solving to astro-imaging automation and systems integration by contributing to astronomy community open-source software projects. Dale also enjoys engaging in astronomy outreach as a member of his local club, the Howard Astronomical League, and assists the operation and maintenance of the club’s observatory. Dale and his family reside just outside of Washington, D.C. in suburban Maryland.
Talk Description: N.I.N.A. 2.0 brought a leap forward in sequence flexibility, automation, and pluggable functionality. Dale will cover a brief history of N.I.N.A. and the origins and theory behind its new sequencing engine, the Advanced Sequencer. Dale will also describe the function and power that the new plugin system adds to the sequencer and how it is expanding to enrich other areas of the app. Observations and lessons encountered along the way and possible future directions for the application will also be discussed.
Workshop Description: N.I.N.A.’s new Advanced Sequencer can seem complex at first but, once understood, it can become an indispensable tool for those who want to do far more than what a “spreadsheet style” sequencer can offer. This hands-on workshop will cover Advanced Sequencer workflow and employment of the various templates, containers, conditions, triggers, and instructions under common scenarios. Advanced functions delivered by plugins will also be explored. Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptop with N.I.N.A. installed.niversity of Maryland, College Park. Leveraging art and science, Alyssa applies an in-depth technical understanding of image formats, image quality, resolution, color management, metadata, and photo printing, along with the principles of photography and design to the presentation of astronomical data. She aims to produce color images of space that are both scientifically informed and aesthetically compelling in an effort to make the universe and our understanding of it more accessible, inspiring and engaging. Previously Alyssa was a teaching assistant at the University of Maryland under Professor Melissa Hayes where she directed lab sessions designed to introduce students to image processing and observational techniques in photometry, astrometry, period finding and spectroscopy, developed matlab code, and assisted students with data acquisition from the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory.
on the board of the AAVSO. Dennis has worked closely with the TESS Science Team to qualify AAVSO members as official participants in the TESS ground-based follow-up program, with over 26 AAVSO members now part of that program. He also developed the TESS submission guidelines and the software for detecting false positives, both of which have benefited the entire TESS team. Dennis is co-author of over 30 exoplanet discovery papers and has given presentations at numerous conferences and local astronomy clubs, as well as online exoplanet courses. For his contributions to TESS and other exoplanet activities, Dennis was awarded the American Astronomical Society’s 2020 Chambliss Amateur Astronomy Achievement Award.
Talk Description: Exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) we now know come in all sizes, compositions, and orbital configurations around their host star. Some are even free floating! Although there are several theories, we still do not know for certain how most exoplanets were formed. What is certain, however, is that our overall knowledge of these distant and strange worlds has grown exponentially in the last few years and amateur astronomers have played a key role in their discovery. This presentation will review: the role exoplanet discoveries play in our quest for life outside
our solar system, what some of the challenges are in discovering exoplanets, and how
observations by amateur astronomers have been essential in making these discoveries.
The collimation of any telescope is paramount and a key for reaching it full potential.
Gaston Baudat was Born in Lausanne Switzerland along the Geneva’s Lake (Switzerland). He Received a bachelor’s degree in electronics & mechanical engineering from the Lausanne Institute of Technology Gaston has a Master’s degree in
electrical engineering and computer science from the Swiss University for Applied Sciences. His Post graduated work was in biological and artificial neural network at the Swiss Poly-technical School of Lausanne (EPFL). He received a PhD’s degree in computer science in the field of machine learning from the CNAM at Paris. Gaston has 35 years of experience in opto-electronics, optics, sensing, digital image processing, machine learning and AI.
Co-founder, owner and current president of Innovations Foresight making innovative technologies and products for astronomy and optics. Gaston is an Adjunct research professor at the Wyant college of optical sciences, Tuscon (AZ university).
Talk Description: The collimation of any telescope is paramount and a key for reaching it full potential.
Short of having access to expensive optical metrology tools, such as interferometer at the shop or Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor and alike in the sky, the telescope collimation is essentially, for most amateurs, based on subjective qualitative evaluation of some star profile, in or out of focus.
However, the use of simple defocused images of stars associated with image-space wavefront sensing (WFS) approaches offer an unique opportunity to fully characterize a telescope optics and perform a quantitative optical collimation.
Such technique has been used with great success in various ground based telescopes such as the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) 4 meters at Paranal observatory (ESO), the 3.5 meters WIYN and 4 meters MAYALL telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory, which are all Ritchey–Chrétien (RC) telescopes, to name a few. Maye the last telescope which has benefited from such software driven WFS is the JWST telescope, fine alignment (aka collimation) of its segmented mirror and optics was performed using only images of de-focused stars, no dedicated wavefront sensor is on board.
With today's computers, such as laptop, it is now possible to do the same for any telescope owner using a simple camera and a mean to defocus. SkyWave (SKW) application takes a single momchorme image (FITS) of stars for doing WFS and quantitative telescope collimation, by the numbers, no guessing is required anymore.
The lecture presents the basic concept of WFS using defocused stars and its application for telescope including examples such as the RCT collimation.
The Science of Star Measurement for Auto-Focusing and Tilt Measurement
George Hilios is a contributor to the NINA open source astro-imaging suite. His contributions include dome support, dome/scope synchronization, center after drift, and several plugins such as Hocus Focus, Orbitals, and 10
Micron Tools. George is a professional software engineer with almost 2 decades of experience developing operating systems (Windows) and distributed systems such as search engines and Big Data platforms for data scientists. George is a member of the AAA Astronomy club in NYC, and lives in Warwick, NY with his wife and 2 young astronomy-loving children.
Talk Description: Optimal focus and sensor orientation are crucial for high-quality data collection and imaging. The scientific and mathematical concepts behind them are well-understood and straightforward, but difficult to put into practice. For example, how do you distinguish actual stars from cosmic rays? How do you prevent hot pixels from skewing results, and get repeatable measurements despite sensor noise? George will describe how he addressed these problems with Hocus Focus, and the meanings behind the Advanced Star Detection settings. He will also describe how its Aberration Inspector uses these star measurements to model tilt and backfocus error with an approach developed in collaboration with Frank Freestar8n, Ph.D. Optical Sciences.
NEAIC Workshop Title : Perfecting Focus and Minimizing Tilt using Hocus Focus
Workshop Description: Achieving consistent, perfect focus is a challenge we all face. Hocus Focus is designed to solve this in a way optimized for your setup, and contains several features to help you fine-tune settings. This hands-on workshop will show participants how to configure star detection and auto-focus settings, even during the daytime if you’ve previously saved Auto Focus runs. It will also show participants how to use this same Auto Focus data to assess and correct tilt and back focus errors on your imaging train. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop with their own saved Auto Focus runs, which can be done by enabling “Save” in Hocus Focus Plugin options and running Auto Focus under real imaging conditions.
The Other Side of Image Processing: Optimizing Your Image Capture
Greg Crinklaw is an astronomer from Cloudcroft New Mexico, who is best known as the developer of SkyTools. Greg holds BS, and MS degrees in astronomy and an MS in physics. He once worked for NASA as a software engineer in support of the
Mars Orbiter Camera which took thousands of pictures from Mars orbit for a decade. Greg considers himself to be a professionally trained life-long amateur astronomer, who has managed to do just about every kind of astronomy at one time or another.
Abstract: You will be on a journey to harness the full potential of your telescope and capture stunning images like a pro. Great images start with optimized image capture. Discover the secrets to predicting exposure times, optimizing sub-exposure, and discovering hidden gems in the sky that will astonish with your own equipment. See how to submit targets to NINA, ACP Scheduler, and iTelescope.net. Join us to up your imaging game!
Bringing Out the Dimmest Details with Powerful New Tools in Siril.
Nico Carver is a dedicated deep-sky astrophotographer with a knack for teaching people complex software. He has taught Photoshop professionally in the past at the University-level and in nationally-attended
webinars. After discovering astrophotography in 2017, it quickly became an obsession. From 2019-2022, he worked at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics where he helped preserve the early history of astrophotography through Project PHaEDRA. Starting in 2023, he has gone full-time with astrophotography education and his primary mission is helping beginners get started with astrophotography through detailed videos on his YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/c/nebulaphotos). Nico’s favorite objects to photograph are nebulae. You can find his work at: https://nebulaphotos.com
Talk Description: Siril: It’s fast, it’s cross-platform, and it’s free! But now, with version 1.2.0, the developers have added features you won’t find anywhere else that are incredibly powerful for bringing out the dimmest details in your deep sky images. If you’ve struggled to sucessfully bring out IFN or molecular clouds before, you have to see this! While this presentation will mainly cover the new tools in Siril 1.2.0, Nico will also cover some basics and differences compared to other popular processing software.
Student Astronomical Research and Publication - Hands-on Workshop
Rachel Freed is an educational consultant specializing in science education and educational technology. She earned a B.S. in Biology and a M.S. in Neuroscience where she studied neural transmission in lamprey spinal cords. With ten years of experience teaching high school
chemistry and astronomy, she is passionate about making education meaningful and relevant for students, and helping them learn the true nature of science and scientific research. She has been an amateur astronomer for 23 years, sharing astronomy with the public at star parties and as a docent at the NASA Ames Visitor Center and the Robert Ferguson Observatory in California, where she gives public lectures on astronomy and cosmology. In 2015 she worked for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, moderating online workshops teaching educators how to use the Skynet Global Telescope Network with students. She is a founding member, and the current President, of the Institute for Student Astronomical Research (InStAR), as well an instructor for the Astronomy Research Seminars. Over the past 7 years she has co-authored over 20 papers and is currently conducting research on the impacts of astronomy research programs for students and educators. Rachel is finishing a PhD in Astronomy Education at Edith Cowan University in Australia, and is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Talk Description: Come learn how to work with students to do small-telescope astronomical research including writing up scientific papers for publication. In this workshop you will learn how to create an astronomy research seminar for students, with hands-on experience with the Washington Double Star Catalog and the Stelle Doppie double star selection tool. You will learn how to use AstroImageJ for astrometric measurements and how to help students run research projects. We will use the Las Cumbres Observatory telescopes to request images of double stars selected in the workshop. Follow-up support is provided throughout the year. There will also be student presentations to provide a glimpse into the final products of the research seminar.
Richard S. Wright Jr.
The Past, Present, and Future of Astrophotography / Dynamite Comes in Small Packages
Richard S. Wright Jr. is a contributing editor for Sky & Telescope magazine, and has been a serious imager for over two decades. By trade Richard is a computer graphics and imaging specialist and
works full time at LunarG, Inc. on some of the worlds most advanced GPU and graphics software technologies. In the past he's worked at Starry Night, and spent nearly 20 years as a consulting engineer and imaging evangelist for Software Bisque. He continues to do consulting work with vendors in the astronomy industry and product development via his own company Starstone Software. You can visit his web gallery at www.eveningshow.com
Talk Description #1: The only thing constant is change, and the art and science of astrophotography is no exception. Richard will review how the birth of astrophotography was a disruptive innovation that turned professional and amateur astronomy on it's head. The rapid acceleration of technologies fueled by the digital revolution has again benefited amateurs and professionals alike tremendously, and again disrupted the status quo to get us where we are today. We are still on the same trajectory and new sensor technologies as well as advances in optical design is already enabling things that defy the experience and common sense of veteran imagers. Where will we be in another 10 or 15 years? If we draw a line from the past to the present, it's not that hard to see where the line is going next.
Talk Description #2: The revolution is over, and the small computers have won. Five years ago in 2018, Richard gave a talk about how the small computers were going to take over astrophotography. This revolution is now history, and there are now a myriad of ways of using small computers to streamline and simplify your astrophotography rig. Commercial vendors are delivering streamlined and easy to use tum key packages and the do-it-yourself crowd has never had it so easy. It's time for an update to talk about the heights of modem imaging with small computers, as well as the very real pitfalls to be aware of.
DR. RON BRECHER
Introduction to Astrophotography
Ron Brecher has been an avid amateur astronomer for 20+ years. His deep-sky, Sun and Moon images and articles are regularly featured in magazines, scientific journals, CD covers, websites, calendars and more. Ron uses PixInsight
for processing his deep-sky shots, imaging mostly from his home observatory north of Guelph, Ontario.
Ron writes regularly for Sky & Telescope and other publications. He is the Technical Reviewer for both editions of Warren Keller’s, Inside PixInsight, published by Springer.
Ron offers private tutoring online, and teams up with Warren Keller (ip4ap.com) to teach 2- and 3-day dep-sky image processing workshops. Ron is a regular speaker at star parties and conferences in the U.S. and Canada.
Ron and his wife Gail live under Bortle 4 skies with two dogs, two cats and two kids in university. In “real life,” Ron holds a PhD is a board-certified toxicologist with more than 30 years’ consulting experience, specializing in risk assessment and risk communication. To round things out, he plays guitar and sings lead vocals in the R&B band The Exceptions.
Talk Description (1) Introduction to Astrophotography
This series of four 1-hour lectures is aimed at people who are considering trying their hand astrophotography. Ron will cover the basic equipment, software and techniques you’ll need to get going in this challenging, rewarding hobby.
The first three presentations will introduce you to different types of astrophotography and the essential hardware and software you’ll need. The fourth seminar looks at good practices that will help you get small, round stars right out of the gate.
Chapter 1: Types of Astrophotography.
- Flyover of planetary, deep-sky, nightscape, widefield, etc.
- Equipment needed for each
Chapter 2: Equipment
- Optics, mounts, cameras, computers, power supply, dew control
Chapter 3: Software
- Planning, equipment control, image processing, networking
Chapter 4: Getting Round Stars
- Collimation, flat field, focus, polar alignment, payload balance
Talk Description (2)
Stereo Astro imaging.
Russell Crowman is the developer of the popular AI-based tools StarXTerminator, NoiseXTerminator, and BlurXTerminator. He was previously Vice President of R&D Engineering at Silicon Laboratories, an Austin, Texas semiconductor company, and is the inventor or
co-inventor of 29 patents. He currently works full time on solutions for amateur astronomy. Though trained as an engineer, Russ is an artist at heart, and enjoys leveraging the technical knowledge from his professional career to create beautiful Astro photos of his own, and tools to help others do the same.
Talk Description: AI for amateur astrophotography has arrived. Though AI is perhaps best known for fabricating text and images, Russ will go into detail about how neural networks can also be trained to do difficult mathematical operations like deconvolution. Recovery of fine detail with minimal artifacts clearly surpasses traditional methods, as does speed and ease of use, but how do we know that this detail is real? What are the limitations of this approach, and what does it mean for fundamental concepts like the diffraction limit? Russ will dive into these topics and more, boiling down the advanced mathematics into a form that is easily understood and can be applied to your own imaging efforts.
Combining Narrow Band Images to Produce More Natural Results
Tim Hutchison attended Gannon University in Erie Pennsylvania where he earned his bachelor’s in electrical engineering. His early career was spent as a control systems engineer, developing numerous control systems for centrifugal pumping
stations for natural gas pipeline applications. In 1994 Tim joined his father in starting SoftWriters, Inc., where they eventually focused on creating automation software for the long-term care pharmacy industry. As the creative designer and head of product development, Tim led SoftWriters to become the largest supplier of software to the LTC pharmacy space in the US. Tim retired from SWI in 2018 after serving as the CEO for 18 years. Always an avid photographer, Tim looked for a new challenge in the area of astrophotography. He designed and built a completely automated backyard observatory, as well as automating another astroimaging setup at the Sierra Remote Observatories. Tim developed an imaging scheduler application that completely automates target selection and acquisition, making the collection of data a completely automated operation. Tim concentrates primarily on photographing deep space objects, as well as solar imaging. He is a regular on The Astro Imaging Channel where he also is a frequent presenter. Tim lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife and 2 sons.
Talk Description: Typically, narrow band images of nebulae are combined using a mapped palette that, while striking, does not reflect the natural look of emission nebulae. In this session, Tim will explore the true “color” of emission nebulae, and discuss how those colors can be represented using computer monitors and printers. Tim will then demonstrate a technique for combining images that takes advantage of that “more natural” color mapping using both PixInsight and PhotoShop.
Easy Science with the Spectra of Stars.
Tom Field was a Contributing Editor at Sky & Telescope Magazine for ten years. He’s the founder of Field Tested Systems and the author of the RSpec software (www.rspec-astro.com) which received the S&T “Hot Product” award. A pioneer in
amateur astronomical spectroscopy, Tom promises to demystify the field and open the door for you to do easy hands-on science.works the field and open the door for you to do easy hands-on science.
Talk Description: Do you want to do some hands-on science with your current equipment? Do you want to learn more about the HR diagram and the lifecycle of stars? Are you looking for a way to augment your imaging activities, especially under light-polluted skies?
In this session, you’ll learn how easy and inexpensive it is to capture star spectra using a simple 1.25" filter grating. You don't need dark skies. You don't need a Ph.D. in astrophysics or a lot of math! And there's no steep learning curve.
We'll start by discussing a bit of the history and science of spectroscopy. You'll gain an understanding of why spectroscopy is so powerful. You’ll see why spectroscopy is the primary research tool we use to understand the stars.
Then we'll review a handful of simple sample spectra captured with standalone DSLRs or small (3" and above) telescopes. We'll look at the spectrum of a supernova and of a black hole. We'll examine how to detect the atmosphere of a planet, and how you can use spectra to detect the composition and temperature and radial velocity of stars. You'll learn how to extract exciting scientific data from spectra you can capture on your first night out.
We'll finish up by talking about how you can get started in the field, what targets to begin with, and where to find resources on the web. You’ll also see how you can do citizen science by contributing spectra to the AAVSO spectra database.
Astronomical spectroscopy isn't just for professionals! Join the thousands of amateurs who are using spectra to learn the details behind the images we capture.