Hubble versus Peach

Last weekend I talked at a special meeting of the British Astronomical Association, celebrating 75 years since Patrick Moore joined. It was a fun day. I’d never been to the Royal Institution before. It has nice looking but horribly uncomfortable seats, and is very atmospheric. Paul Murdin and myself were the token professionals in a vast sea of keen amateurs. Some of them really do wear anoraks, but golly gosh they do some impressive stuff these days. Not only do they use CCD cameras, but they employ what IOA wizard Craig Mackay calls Lucky Imaging; they take thousands of short images, keep the best ones, and re-align them with Regi-Stax software.

The results, from small telescopes in people’s back gardens in the UK, are stunning. Possibly the two best known practitioners are Damian Peach and Nick Szymanek.

So … which of these pictures was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, and which from Damian Peach’s telescope in Buckinghamshire ? Vote now. Results later.


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18 Responses to Hubble versus Peach

  1. BlackGriffen says:

    The one on the left has slight deviations from spherical near the upper right corner of the image, fwiw.

  2. Kav says:

    ‘fwiw’ = ‘for what its worth’, I think

  3. IIRC, FWIW is described correctly by Kav. ROTFLMAO!

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by suthers, Chris North. Chris North said: Hubble Space Telescope vs Amateur astronomers: can you tell the difference? http://bit.ly/5r92Fh/ […]

  5. To those two amateur names, we should add Dave Tyler, who also produces remarkable images. And just to be clear, and contrary to the impression one might get from this article, amateur astronomers were using the selective-frames technique long before professionals nicked it and renamed it Lucky Imaging!

  6. andyxl says:

    Paul – many thanks for chronological correction. But in the IR, we were doing “shift and add” in the 1980s…

  7. andyxl says:

    Be brave and vote people ! Today I have had 490 post views but only 44 votes …

  8. MikeW says:

    What’s the “other” button for?

  9. MikeW says:

    Perhaps a small prize would enhance the voting rate

  10. andyxl says:

    “other” is for folks to say “neither, you’re messing us about” or whatever. As for prize … for who ? Which one of the people who voted for the right one ? And err… I don’t know who they are ! But if you like, the best comment entrant gets to write a guest post on Andy’s blog …

  11. Alex M says:

    For some non-well explained reason, I was went to this year’s ‘Astronomy Photographer of the Year’ awards at ‘the other’ Royal Observatory. Two things struck me (i) unbelievably good pictures that I’d happily gaze at for ages and (ii) what sensationally cool, gold-lined, and large wine glasses the RAS have. Oh, and the assortment of classic sweets, bonbons and the like, as one left was perfect. If you ever get an invite, go.

  12. andyxl says:

    Harrumph. I have never had bonbons at the RAS. Perhaps this is a Fabian innovation.

    We are up to 75 votes (out of 542 views yesterday and 395 today, so most people are still shy…). Maybe one more day and I will reveal the answer !

  13. Martin E. says:

    So your point, Andy, is that either you spend a few billion dollars and get one, or a few (thousand?) quid and get the other. Cool. So what can we use this for? What % of time is good? Can you go faint? Is it good enough for weak lensing if put on a >=4meter? I expect you all have been following this, but it’s new to me.
    Meanwhile, monitoring Jupiter for smaller impact events is alone worth the candle.

  14. andyxl says:

    Martin – I don’t know what percentage of data gets thrown away by Peach et al, but yes, it must be useful for something. At the large aperture end, I believe Craig MacKay is putting Lucky Cam on the Palomar 200inch, so we shall see. Like doing AO with natural guide stars, obviously you need some reference signal you can detect with the short exposures. Or maybe not ? Maybe there is some cunning maximum likelihood solution for the whole set. Maybe we should read Craig’s web site…

  15. andyxl says:

    OK, here is the result. Ninety one people actually voted – many fewer than read the post, but good enough for statistical confidence. Forty-six people said image A was the Peach, and forty-five went for image B. The correct answer is image B, so a stunning victory for amateur astronomy I think.

    Well, wasn’t that fun ? Hmmm… thinks ….

  16. Iain Steele says:

    If only I could remember which one I voted for…

  17. […] few weeks back I wrote a post plugging Damian Peach and his amazingly sharp pictures using “lucky” imaging. This only […]

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