Tools & Training

How can you create the best results possible from your MicroObservatory images? How do the telescopes work? Need help figuring out what to look at? Looking for guidance on using the image processing software? Check out these resources to get you started.

Video Tutorials

Watch these video tutorials to learn how to control the telescopes, download the MicroObservatory Image software, and begin creating beautiful images of your own. Each short video will lead you through every step of the process.

  • How to download the software for Windows
    In this tutorial you will learn how to download the MicroObservatory Image software for Windows.
  • How to download the software for Mac
    In this tutorial you will learn how to download the MicroObservatory Image software for Mac.
  • How to request an image
    This tutorial will show you how to use our website to request your own image of an astronomical object from one of the MicroObservatory telescopes.
  • How to open and process a FITS image
    This tutorial will show you how to use MicroObservatory Image to open and begin processing images you receive from the MicroObservatory telescopes.
  • How to make a simple RGB Image
    This tutorial will show you how to combine three separate MicroObservatory images taken with a red, green, and blue filter into one full color image.
  • How to make an advanced RGB Image
    This tutorial will show you how to use a dark calibration image to remove noise before combining three separate MicroObservatory images taken with a red, green, and blue filter into one full color image.
  • How to make an asteroid animation
    This tutorial will show you how to use three separate MicroObservatory images taken at different times to create a moving image of an asteroid.
  • How to make an animation of Jupiter's Moons
    This tutorial will show you how to make a moving image of Jupiter's moons using images from the MicroObservatory telescopes.

Directory of recently-taken telescope images

One of the best ways to figure out what target you want to point the telescopes at is to look at images taken by other users. This online directory contains all the images taken over the last two weeks, along with an archive of interesting images from years gone by. You can determine the telescope settings observers used by clicking on the "Info" link for each image.

Cosmic Cast of Characters reference guide

New to astronomy? Are you nebulous on the definition of nebulae? This 2-page quick-guide will help you to identify and take better pictures of the players on the cosmic stage.

Observing With NASA target information

Browse these web pages to find out more about the current list of available telescope targets by category. Each target also features a link to a NASA space science mission that has studied that object.

Enhance your OWN images with MicroObservatory Image 2.0

Use our free image-processing software to enhance your images taken with the MicroObservatory Telescopes (also works with other telescope images in "FITS" format). Optimize brightness/contrast, colorize images, etc. Available for Windows, Mac OSX and Mac OS9.

MicroObservatory Image 2.0 Manual

This technical manual (included also with your download of MicroObservatory Image 2.0) provides an overview of all the software's available menu functions.

Illustrated guide to using MicroObservatory Image

This guide—excerpted from our Kids Capture the Universe curriculum (see Projects & Activities)—provides illustrated step-by-step examples of how you can use the image processing software to adjust the brightness, contrast, sharpness, zoom level, color, and other features of your image.

Image Processing Challenges

"Processing Challenges" are ways to quickly practice and learn tools and techniques for bringing out subtle features of your images. Includes a challenge for making a "natural-color" image from 3 images taken through red, green, and blue filters, and a challenge for creating animations using multiple images of the same target.

Stock images for Processing Challenges Quickguide

Download this zip file of sample "FITS" images to use for the Processing Challenges. (FITS stands for "Flexible Image Transport System" and is the standard format that astronomers use for data from telescopes. MicroObservatory Image 2.0 works with FITS and GIF images.)

The Meaning of Color in Hubble Images

This website explains how astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope create color images from multiple black & white images taken through different color filters. The technique, as well as the science you can learn from it, is the same technique you can use with the digital images captured by the MicroObservatory telescopes.

Chandra Images and False Color

This website describes how astronomers who use the Chandra X-ray Observatory use "false color" to bring out important details in their images. The Chandra telescope detector records the intensity and energy of x-rays, which are invisible to human eyes.

Guide to CCD Imaging

This website is designed to teach how to take CCD images and to process them to achieve impressive results. It is also intended to be a showcase of CCD imaging to inspire you to head out under the stars and capture beautiful pictures!