Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has made more than a million observations. New images are regularly put on line on the Hubble project site run by NASA and ESA but the image database, called the Hubble Legacy Archive, is truly immense.
Many astronomers have worked on those images, yet only a fraction has received special attention and who knows how many others are very interesting but are virtually unknown. For this reason, two competitions were organized to involve the public in a kind of treasure hunt to search for the most beautiful space images.
Until May 31, 2012, everybody can browse through the images in the database of the Hubble Space Telescope to find a particularly beautiful one to submit to one of the two competitions. The images are in FITS format, a digital standard in science and astronomy in particular.
The first of two competitions, Hubble’s Hidden Trasures 2012, simply simply consists in finding in the database of the Hubble Space Telescope a particularly beautiful image, use some online tools to adjust its zoom, contrast and color balance to save it in JPEG format. A special page was created on Flickr to upload the images so created and each week a winner will be selected. The prize for the best photo is an iPod Touch.
The second of the two competitions, Hubble’s Hidden Trasures Image Processing 2012, consists in using more sophisticated tools to manipulate the images in the database of the Hubble Space Telescope to obtain more advanced results. Photoshop users can use the FITS Liberator plugin, recently open sourced, to edit files in FITS format and create new results. People wishing to use other image editing programs can use the STIFF program to convert files from the FITS format to TIFF images. Also in this case, a special page has been created on Flickr to upload the images thus created. The award for the best picture in this case is an iPad.
What are you waiting for? Read the rules of the contests, which include the links to the tools you need, and start browsing through the images of the Hubble Space Telescope!
Edit August 23, 2012. The winners of the contest have been announced and their images published.