Make your own galaxy image with NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges

Open through February 29, the contest lets you use real astronomical data and tools to create your own beautiful image of the iconic starburst galaxy M82.

Want to create cool astronomy images using space telescope data? Here’s your chance. The AstroPhoto Challenges, from NASA’s Universe of Learning, lets you use real astronomical data and tools to process your own images of a galaxy. This season’s target galaxy is Messier 82 (M82).

The M82 challenge is open now through February 29, 2020. Enter the challenge here. There are videos here with more details about how to participate. Submit your astrophoto images to the challenge and they might be highlighted as standout entries. The standout entries will be recognized on the MicroObservatory Challenge page and the NASA Data Challenge page. Every standout entry will receive expert feedback from NASA scientists.

M82 is a starburst galaxy – a galaxy undergoing an exceptionally high rate of star formation – and is 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. It is about five times more luminous than the whole Milky Way

A crooked oval of blue-white light with red squiggles on top and bottom.

A mosaic image taken by the Hubble Telescope of Messier 82, combining exposures taken with four colored filters that capture starlight from visible and infrared wavelengths as well as the light from the glowing hydrogen filaments. Image via NASA/ ESA/ Hubble Heritage Team/ STScI/ AURA.

You can either capture your own real-time telescope image of M82 using the MicroObservatory robotic telescope network, or you can work with an archived set of NASA data files of M82, taken with four multi-wavelength space telescope missions: Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and GALEX.

The challenges include instructions on how to turn those data into composite images with a simple image processing tool used by professional astronomers.

Here is a playlist of four separate videos of subject matter experts sharing what they see in the M82 galaxy in different wavelengths.

Juliano's photo of spiral galaxy mostly in red and blue with a blue-white oval at the end of one extended arm.

Here’s a standout image from the Summer 2019 challenge. Image via NASA.

Bottom line: How to participate in NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges.

Via AstroPhoto Challenges

Eleanor Imster