||AIC Volume 5, number 4|
Initially started as a way for a few friends to gather and share experiences, this year, the Advanced Imaging Conference prepares to hold its ninth annual gathering in Santa Clara, California. "During our first meeting, no one imagined this conference would have lasted this long!", said Ken Crawford, AIC's current President.
"This was supposed to a small get-together. We assumed a hand full of people would attend, share some information, have a few laughs then that would be the end of it," Crawford continued. Instead, almost 75 people attended that first meeting. By 2011, the number had grown beyond 300.
Incorporated as a not-for-profit, AIC was co-founded by Steve Mandel, the organization's original president, Ken Crawford, Dr. Don Goldman, John Smith and Richaard Bennion. "Our first year was a mixed-success. Attendance and enthusiasm for the meeting exceeded our wildest expectations but the conference's expense outpaced its revenues and we had to dig into our pockets to make up the difference", Crawford recollected. To help offset its costs and keep the registration fees reasonable, the AIC added a vendor exhibition area for the second meeting. That innovation made the conference financially viable because the fees paid by the vendors helped supplement registration fees charged to attendees.
"The AIC is a non-profit organization. That means, any net-income we earn is plowed back into the organization and used to help pay up-front deposits for the hotel venue, transporation and lodging for our speakers plus catering deposits, too. Unlike other astronomical gatherings, the AIC does not benefit any owner. I and the others on our board serve as non-compensated volunteers. Every year, our board members donate, literally, thousands of hours to make each fall meeting happen. Without their volunteerism, there would be no AIC," Crawford explained.
Asked to describe the difference between vendors and sponsors, Crawford responded, "Both our vendors and sponsors help support the conference, and therefore the astro-photography hobby, through their registration fees. Sponsors, however, go the extra mile. Look, each of our Sponsors could attend as a vendor and pay much less. But, they recognize the importance of our meetings, understand we operate on a razor thin margin and want to help make it possible for us to continue year after year. (AIC Sponsors)...see their participation as an investment in our community."
From the hope of a seeing a few friends to a throng numbering in the hundreds, the Advanced Imaging Conference has grown and evolved to become the greatest gathering of astrophotographers under one roof.
This year's AIC includes two new sponsors- Officina Stellare and Woodland Hills Camera & Telescopes. Show your appreciation by patronizing their booths.
Hubble Heritage Contributor To Explain the Aesthetics of Professional Photographic Research Imagery
Can an astrophotograph serve both science and art? Can deep space imagery simultaneously highlight scientific detail and stir the imagination?
To Dr. Travis Rector, a physics and astronomy professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage and contributor to the Hubble Heritage Project, the answer to both questions is a resounding yes.
According to Dr. Rector, the simultaneous development of advanced astronomical instrumentation, manufacture of ever-increasing computing power and availability of digital image processing software, like Photoshop, offers unprecedented capability, flexibility and agility for digital image manipulation. The combination of these technological advancements has resulted in the ability for professional researchers (and non-professional enthusiasts) to produce evocative astronomical images that are scientifically meaningful.
It has also created a new philosophy about how these picture are assembled. For example, the famous "Pillars of Creation" image highlighting the Eagle Nebula (M16) central region was based on data captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. This picture revealed the tremendous resolution of the HST. It demonstrated the capacity for narrow-band imaging to enhance our understanding of an object. It showed how color schemes can be used to imply depth, motion and texture and, significantly, it illustrated how effectively such images can inspire the public and generate enthusiasm for astronomy in general.
The success of the M16 HST image, and pictures like it, inspired the inception of the Hubble Heritage Project. Since its start in 1998, the project has released a new color image from HST every month. The success of the Hubble Heritage project has subsequently inspired many professional observatories to invest resources into the production of images from astronomical research data that are primarily intended for the public at large.
In 2007, to assist other professional astronomers, Dr. Rector published a ground-breaking, peer reviewed, scientific paper in the Astronomical Journal on techniques and a philosophy about the production of evocative color composite images from research data using standard techniques and processing tools like Photoshop.
Dr. Rector will discuss his processing procedures, share his philosophy, explain how it applies to non-professional astrophotographic enthusiasts (you!) and ignite a burning desire to start your next deep space project!
Don't miss this one, it's only at AIC 2012!
Light up AIC with your Best Images!
Let your light shine throughout the conference by sending us your best images for the AIC Image Gallery. Displayed throughout the conference during breaks, lunches and the Saturday night dinner, by the end of the meeting your work will have been seen over a dozen times by other meeting attendees- and they will become part of the AIC permanent collection on the AIC web site following the conference.
This is not a contest, there will be no judges and no one will receive a blue ribbon. Instead, this is a celebration of our hobby and, as a result, everyone is guaranteed to be a winner! So, here's an opportunity for you to shine a spot light on your astrophotography talent! In fact, your most difficult challenge may be deciding which images to feature!
We can accept up to three images from each attendee but all pictures must be submitted no later than October 1.
To enter, follow our simple guidelines then upload your pictures to our server. It's fast and easy!
Click here! to get started.
AIC 2012 Offers PixInsight Workshop for the Merely Mortal
PixInsight is a tantalizing and powerful tool for releasing the full potential of your hard earned data. But its controls have also been compared to operating the Space Shuttle without an instruction book.
Last year, Dr. Steve Leshin conducted an excellent, well attended workshop that introduced the use of this application and how it can partner with other programs, like Photoshop, to produce amazing results.
This year, we're taking it to the next level. We've recruited Ron Wodaski, one of digital astrophotography's founding fathers and the 2011 Hubble Award Recipient, to explain advanced use of PixInsight to our attendees. Ron is famous for his ability to untangle processing hair-balls in a clear, concise, logical manner that's also entertaining. His now out of print books on astrophotography are classics that sparked the enthusiasm of many leading astrophotographers who are practicing today.
So, if you're curious about PixInsight or have already taken the plunge but find yourself looking for a life raft, plan to check into one of Ron's morning or afternoon workshops. It will save you time, eliminate your frustration and leave you more confident. It's the AIC PixInsight Pick-me-up!
Experience the Wonder of Monterey Bay, the Enchantment of Carmel
While you're settling into the weekend general sessions, let your wife, family members or traveling companion take a trip they will long remember by joining our special, all inclusive Saturday tour to breath-taking Monterey Bay, the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and timeless Carmel.
After spending the morning experiencing this magical, living museum of oceans behind glass, our guests will enjoy a delicious luncheon overlooking the bay at one of Monterey's finest restaurants, The Fish Hopper, on Cannery Row.
Following a delightful lunch, there's a short, scenic drive over to Carmel, where celebrities blend in like chameleons, movie stars spend romantic weekends, writers hang out at local bars and dignitaries make reservations for dinner. Perhaps you'll see Clint Eastwood behind the wheel of his black pick-up truck or Doris Day petting someone's pooch at her dog-friendly hotel, the Cyprus Inn. Regardless, you'll have a couple of unhurried hours to explore or shop before returning to San Jose.
Our private, chartered motor coach departs the conference hotel at 9:15AM Saturday morning and includes tickets to the Monterey Aquarium, lunch at The Fish Hopper restaurant and snacks. Our guests will return by 5:00PM Saturday afternoon in time to join you for the AIC Saturday evening Banquet dinner.
Tour participation also includes all AIC conference meals- a $275 value for only $85 per person. Reservations are strictly limited to the first 25 tourists.
Make your reservation now!
AIC 2012 Luminaries Will Engage and Enlighten
AIC is famous for serving up the hobby's top exponents and the 2012 gathering will be no exception! Here's the 18 best reasons not to miss this year's confab:
- Eric Blackhurst, General Manager of Oceanside Photo & Telescope will conduct a workshop that compares the pros and cons of the leading mount designs and help you select the best mount for your telescope;
- Steve Brady, the co-creator of FocusMax, one of the most commonly used software applications used each night by astrophotographers around the world, will speak on how to obtain optimum focus using his software;
- Ken Crawford, one of the world's accomplished astrophotographers, will lead a workshop that demonstrates how masks can shorten your processing effort and improve your final results; and
- Bob Fera, pioneering astrophotographer and AIC board member, will facilitate a processing workshop for beginning and intermediate astrophotographers.
- Tony Hallas, world renowned astrophotographer, columnist and AIC 2009 Hubble Award recipient, will explore advanced image processing techniques with an artistic eye;
- Tim Puckett, the 2011 AAS Chambliss Amateur Achievement Award Recipient will host a workshop on how you can participate in citizen science based on the insights he's learned and the techniques he's employed in his successful on-going supernova survey;
- Ron Wodaski, teacher, author, astrophotographer, Director of the Tzec Maun Foundation and recipient of the AIC 2011 Hubble Award, will delve into advanced image processing techniques using PixInsight;
Weekend General Session presentations by:
- Adam Block will receive the 2012 Hubble Award for excellence in supporting astrophotography and present this year's Hubble Lecture;
- David Eicher, Civil War historian, author, blogger, astronomy popularizer and Editor of Astronomy magazine, will offer insight on the past and future of amateur astronomy and astrophotography;
- Alan Erickson, Senior Computer Scientist with Adobe, will talk about simple techniques you can use to clean up blemishes in your images like satellite trails, bad columns and other nasties that would otherwise ruin your picture.
- Tom Field, the developer of the RSpec Real-time Spectroscopy software, will discuss the use of affordable spectroscopes and how they can expand amateur contributions to science;
- Dr. Don Goldman, well known astrophotographer, lecturer and mastermind of Astrodon filters, will discuss the popularity of planetary nebulae and how to capture them photographically;
- Sal Grasso, of the hobby newest stars, will share processing methods that have helped to illuminate many of his great images;
- Bernhard Hubl, one of Europe's most popular astrophotographers and co-organizer of CEDIC, will examine the differences between long and short focal length imaging, overcoming their challenges and taking advantage of either;
- Dr. Geoff Marcy, the world famous exo-planet hunter, will share about his personal journey to find planets around other stars and understand the chances for habitable planets similar to Earth;
- Dr. Travis Rector, Professor of Astronomy & Physics at the University of Alaska and world famous astronomical image processor, will share techniques to produce aesthetic, presentation quality and scientifically valuable astrophotographic images;
- John Smith, President of CCDWare software, will reveal techniques he uses as one of the hobby's most sought after telescope installation, alignment and optimization consultant;
- Alistair Symon, astrophotographer and cosmic muralist, will explain how to create compelling panoramic mosaics with wide field images and
Catch the Spirit of Western Australia with this Very Special Offer
The proliferation of remote robotic telescopes is a wonder of the 21st Century. Controllable with a common web browser from anywhere the Internet is available, these far-flug installations enable anyone instant, convenient access to spectacular observing locations across the globe.
For example, in 2010, the University of Western Australia, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), and the Western Australia Department of Education combined to open the SPIRIT Remote Internet Observatory featuring a research-grade robotic telescope system for students located in Western Australia and beyond.
Operational for about a year, SPIRIT I is located near Perth at The University of Western Australia’s School of Physics in a pre-existing roof top dome. Inside, a 14-inch Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, pictured left, equipped with an Apogee Alta U6 CCD camera rides atop a Paramount ME mount. The instruments provide a 20 arcminute of field with a resolution of 1.2 arcseconds per pixel. A set of parfocal photographic and photometric filters are accessible through a nine-position filter wheel and an Optec TCF-S3 focuser keeps everything in focus throughout the night.
The configuration presents a broad range of imaging and data gathering possibilities, ranging from astrophotography, to minor planet astrometry, supernovae survey work, and photometry.
With a generous donation from the Hawaiian Property Group in Perth, a second observatory- SPIRIT II- was deployed this year. Featuring a Planewave CDK 17 and a 16 mega-pixel camera, the second instrument doubled the program's capacity.
SPIRIT is the brainchild of Paul Luckas, who also manages program. Paul is an accomplished amateur astronomer with over 1,000 published observations, the co-discovery of 11 supernovae and 3 minor planets, dozens of near-Earth-object (NEO) confirmations and recoveries using his own backyard robotic telescope.
Fortunately for AIC attendees, Paul will be attending the 2012 conference. He has also generously offered remote telescope access during our meeting for a few who would like the opportunity of targeting southern sky objects during the day here, when it is night in Western Australia.
If you have the interest, contact Paul in person during the conference. He will provide you with a login and a time slot if any are still available. This is a first come, first serve opportunity.
Click here to read more about the SPIRIT program.
Capture AIC Memories and Attend 2012 Free
If you plan to attend AIC 2012 and intend to bring along a DSLR camera, we have an offer that will reimburse your registration fee.
Interesting candid photos of AIC attendees and high quality images of our speakers form an important legacy of our hobby and our gathering. This year, the AIC would like to engage one of our attendees to capture great memories for our archive and we will reimburse your registration fee in gratitude for your trouble.
We anticipate this special project will not interfere with your enjoyment of the conference but, it will require you to concentrate when the opportunity presents itself. We need good pictures of each speaker and will insure you have a clear view to frame the image. We also want several dozen interesting random images of attendees engaged in hallway conversations, pictures of the weekend general sessions, booths and exhibits in the Technology Showcase area and any other memorable moment you stumble upon.
The AIC will gratefully reimburse your conference registration fee in total upon delivery, via FTP upload to our server, our review and acceptance of your high resolution DSLR digital image files.
If you are interested in this special project, please contact Ken Crawford, President- AIC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
22 Exhibitors Confirmed, More Anticipated
Unlike other big name national and regional astronomy events, the Advanced Imaging Conference is built around the sharing of information, ideas and techniques about astrophotography.
However, the cost of organizing, promoting, up-front funding and managing the annual get-together is greater than the attendee registration fees can support. So the AIC also features a Product Showcase packed with the world's leading manufacturers, retailers and service providers. Their fees help offset costs and make each AIC possible.
This year will be no exception. 22 Sponsors and Vendors are planning to exhibit. More are expected.
In past years, many have offered exclusive discounts to AIC conferees during the meeting- hopefully, many will do the same this year, too. The AIC encourages you to patronize these fine establishments, especially in between sessions. This year, the Product Showcase will be open during the Friday afternoon workshops for those who want to shop.
Here' a list of exhibitors who have already registered:
Register Now and Make Your Hotel Reservations for the Ninth Annual 2012 Advanced Imaging Conference
Now you can register and make your hotel reservation for the 2012 Advanced Imaging Conference, Friday, October 26 through Sunday, October 28! This year's meeting will convene at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara- the same hotel where the 2011 gathering took place.
Friday will be dedicated to workshops brimming with expert instructional advice covering image processing, data acquisition and the use of popular processing software applications. It's a treasury of information you'll find no where else on Earth!
The Saturday and Sunday sessions also promise an exciting constellation of Astro-imaging's brightest stars and, throughout the long weekend, AIC 2012 will showcase the latest technology from our community's leading vendors, manufacturers and service providers.
All meals will be included in the conference fee:
Transportation between the San Jose International Airport and conference hotel will be provided free of charge and you'll be able to download each of the meeting presentations following the meeting.
- continental breakfast on Friday;
- full breakfast Saturday and Sunday morning and
- both lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday.
But, don't come alone! Bring your spouse, companion or your entire family and, for a small additional per person fee, they can tour the Bay area all day Saturday while you're at the meeting plus they can join you at every conference meal.
Remember, there are other great gatherings where you can shop for better equipment but only the Advanced Imaging Conference equips you to create better images!
Plan to be there!
AIC 2012 Introduces Local Bay Area Admission Package
Many AIC attendees live within the Bay Area and drive each day to the conference. Because our registration fees are all inclusive, this has resulted in some local attendees paying for meals they do not take. So, this year, the Advanced Imaging Conference is offering local residents a special conference rate that excludes breakfasts and dinners.
This special Local Area Resident Package includes admittance all workshops and the weekend general sessions, admittance to the Technology Showcase, the souvenir program guide, plus Friday and Saturday lunch for a reduced rate of only $299.00 per person.
Admission to the Friday dinner and Saturday's banquet may be purchased together on-site during the conference for an additional fee of $100.00.
Look for this special local rate when you register. All prices are subject to change without notice.
The 2011 AIC Image Gallery Now Online
The 2011 meeting offered attendees an opportunity to submit images for display during conference breaks, lunch and the Saturday night dinner. Again this year, the response was overwhelming to this invitation- we received dozens of beautiful pictures representing the current state of the art.
To preserve this great gathering of talent, the AIC has posted the third annual on-line gallery of astrophotographic images. Each picture is displayed in a random sequence. A control is provided to navigate through the list. Click on any image to open a viewer that will display the full image with high quality. Here's the link:
2011 AIC Gallery
2011 Presentation Downloads Now Available to Everyone
The complete set of 2011 conference presentations is now available without the need to submit a username or password.
All previous year's presentations remain unrestricted for download and study. Following is a list of links to each of the AIC's presentation archives.
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