MicroObservatory Challenge

For this challenge, you will need to process astronomical image data that you collect yourself from MicroObservatory telescopes. Submit your processed images to the challenge, and your work may be selected as a standout entry to receive feedback from NASA scientists!

Standout Entries from the Summer 2022 Season have posted! Check out the Standout Entries section to see the highlighted images and read feedback from NASA Scientists. Stay tuned for the Winter 2023 Challenge!

Watch the video below for a runthrough of what you will do to participate in the MicroObservatory Challenge. For more detailed instructions, check out the What to do section.

Follow the instructions below for each of the four steps. First you will capture your own real-time telescope image, then you'll create your own image using the JS9-4L image-processing tool, then you'll compare your processed image to a NASA-processed image, and finally you'll submit your processed image to the MicroObservatory Challenge.

Step 1: Capture Your Image

  • Go to the Control Telescope page of the Observing with NASA website.
  • Find , and then click the Observe button below it.
  • Fill out the necessary fields, and then submit your image request.
  • Your image will be captured tonight by a MicroObservatory telescope, and emailed to you sometime tomorrow.
  • It takes a day to receive your image because the telescopes can only capture your image at night!
  • Start processing your image data in Step 2.
Continue to Step 2: Create

Video Tutorials

How to Request an Image

Find other useful tutorials on the Tools & Training page.

Step 2: Create Your Image

  • The day after you request your image of , you'll get an email from . Download your image to your device.
  • Open the Challenge Edition of JS9-4L to begin processing your image.
  • Take the Guided Tour of the JS9-4L image processor if you have never used it before.
  • Open your image using the Image dropdown.
  • You can also choose to process archived MicroObservatory images of in the Challenge Images dropdown.
  • Use the processing tools included with JS9-4L to enhance your image. Get creative!
  • If you aren't sure how to use JS9-4L's processing tools, check out the video tutorials below.
  • When you're done, save your image to your device as either a JPEG or PNG file.
  • Be careful not to save as a FITS file. FITS format won't preserve all the processing that you've done.
Continue to Step 3: Compare
JS9-4L image processing tool - open your image JS9-4L image processing tool - process your image
A processed MicroObservatory image of M82

Step 3: Compare Your Image

  • Find a NASA-processed image of from Astropix to compare with the image you processed.
  • Head to the Astropix website for NASA imagery from many different telescopes. Save the URL of the image you choose.
  • Write a comparison between your image and NASA's image of . You'll include this comparison when you submit your image in Step 4.
  • Some things to think about: What features of does each image focus on? Were different wavelengths of light used in either image? Think about what makes each image unique!
Continue to Step 4: Submit

Step 4: Submit Your Image

  • Make sure you've already processed an image of .
    Just starting? Go back to Step 1.
  • In order to enter the MicroObservatory Challenge, you will need:
    1. • A JPG/PNG file for your own processed image of
    2. • A written description of how you processed your image
    3. • A URL from Astropix for one of NASA's images of
    4. • A written comparison of the two images
  • Submit your processed images to the MicroObservatory Challenge.
  • The Google form requires a Google email account.
    Don't have one? instead.
Submit your images to the MicroObservatory Challenge with this form
Submit your images to the Challenges here.
Google Form or

Expert astronomers take a close look at Eta Carinae and to explore what these objects are, where you can find them, and what different wavelengths reveal. The three experts we meet in this video are Dr. Rudolfo Montez, Dr. Joy Nichols, and Dr. Nathan Smith.

Are you unable to see the YouTube video above? Watch the video here instead.

We highlight a number of standout entries from each of the past seasons of NASA's Astrophoto Challenges. Click through the image thumbnails below to read expert feedback to participants from NASA scientists.

MicroObservatory Challenge

Choose from past seasons of the MicroObservatory Challenge below.

See standout entries for
the NASA Data Challenge

When did this season end?

The season ended on .

We have reviewed all submissions to NASA's Astrophoto Challenges, and have posted standout entries on the MicroObservatory Challenge and NASA Data Challenge pages.

Follow our Twitter or Facebook pages to get updates whenever standout entries are posted.

What about past seasons?

You can still work with NASA data from past Challenges! Head to the Challenges Archive of JS9-4L, where you will find NASA image files among the Archived Images for all of the past seasons.

Want to see what others have done with image data? Check out standout entries from past Challenges on the MicroObservatory Challenge and NASA Data Challenge pages.