So, you have taken your first CCD images and they look pretty good, but you are ready to improve them. Image processing allows you to enhance CCD images using a wide variety of algorithms. However, keep in mind that image processing can enhance a good picture, but it cannot make a bad picture good. It is important to get the best possible image while you are at the telescope. Most imagers spend their time at the telescope taking images; the processing is not done until a later time. You can always process while the sun is out. When it is clear and dark you will want to get as many images as you can!
The following tutorial will take you step by step through the most basic image processing routines. These steps will be sufficient for almost all of your imaging, especially when you are getting started. When you have mastered these techniques move on to the Advanced Image Processingsection of the website. But remember, take your time and understand all of the basic techniques first. Also, remember that this is not the only way to process an image. Today’s software is incredibly powerful and there are many procedures or combinations of procedures which will result in the best image for you, so have fun with it!
This is what image processing can do:
Above: On the left is a single exposure of the Whirlpool Galaxy. By combining multiple exposure through colored filters and enhancing the pictures with image processing software, the full-color image on the right was created.
Note: For specific steps using a particular software package (MaxIm DL, CCDOPS, Photoshop, etc.), visit the Software Instructions section.
If this is your first time here it is recommended that you read through the following pages in order.