Astrometry.net: Recognizing Astronomical Images to Enable Science with Diverse Imaging

Date: 
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm PDT
Speaker: 
Dustin Lang
Affiliation: 
University of Toronto
Location: 
N232, Room 103
Event Type: 
Colloquium

I will present Astrometry.net, a computer program that takes as input an astronomical image -- from a professional telescope, scanned photographic plate, or backyard snapshot -- and determines (with no information other than the image pixels) where on the sky that image belongs, or, equivalently, identifies the stars and galaxies visible in the image. I will describe the classic computer-vision algorithms that go into the program, and then present a fun application where we searched the web for images of "Comet Holmes" and, using the resulting JPEG-format images alone, recovered the three-dimensional trajectory of the comet through the Solar system. Those interested in SOFIA may be interested to know that there is an effort to use Astrometry.net with SOFIA's guiding and tracking cameras to increase the speed of field acquisition.

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