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  AIC Volume 4, Number 1
In this issue:
  • Wodaski scores 2011 Hubble more...
  • Another AIC board member picked by the AAS more...
  • AAVSO needs your data more...
  • Fewer people travel to dark sites more...

  • Candid photos from AIC 2010 released more...
  • AIC opens 2010 imaging gallery more...
  • Download last year's presentations more...
  • 2011 conference dates detailed more...

  • AIC Honors Ron Wodaski with 2011 Hubble Award

    Considered by many to be the father of modern amateur CCD astronomy, the Board of Directors of the Advanced Imaging Conference is pleased to announce that Ron Wodaski has been selected, by unanimous vote, to receive the 2011 AIC Hubble Award.

    Teacher, writer and astrophotographer, Ron was an early CCD evangelist who left his successful career as a Seattle-based software designer to became one of the hobby's leading experts.

    Published in 2002, Ron's seminal book, The New CCD Astronomy, is considered the hobby's bible by many enthusiasts. Between it's covers, Ron discusses virtually every aspect a budding astrophotographer needs to know- from telescope, mount and camera selection to in depth image processing tutorials. Although now out of print and only available through second hand sources, this tome continues to offer relevant information and has been responsible for providing the confidence many needed to embark on personal voyages of discovery only accessible with an astronomical camera.

    His follow-up manual, written in association with AIC's 2010 Hubble recipient,
    Russ Croman, The NewAstro Zone System for Astro Imaging picked up where the first book ended. It offered advanced processing techniques based on a ground breaking concept that identified three fundamental histogram regions, or zones.

    Many of today's best imagers owe their humble beginnings to the information Ron crammed into these books.

    Ron was one of the first to promote remote access to an ideally located large telescope when he opened the Black Bird Observatory situated under dark, pristine New Mexico skies. It featured a 20-inch RCOS instrument and large format SBIG camera that was operable with a common Internet browser from anywhere in the world for a modest hourly fee.
    The Hubble Award is presented to those individuals who have demonstrated significant and sustained contributions to the astro-photography community over a period of years. Production of fine images is only one criteria but certainly not the most important factor that is considered. Popularization through public outreach, technical innovation, scientific contributions and selfless direct support to other imagers also represent key criteria that justify designation as a Hubble Award recipient.

    Today, Ron is Director of the Tzec Maun Foundation, a non-profit organization offering students and researchers free access to a variety of high quality astronomical instruments located in New Mexico and Australia. The long anticipated centerpiece of the Foundation's optical collection will be a state of the art, one meter telescope located in a refurbished former government tracking station. Tzec Maun co-sponsors the annual award of two scholarships covering the cost of travel, lodging and registration to attend AIC for one selected student and educator.

    Ron also hosts, moderates and shepherds the discussions of the ccd-newastro list group on Yahoo. With over 4,000 members, Ron's list is one of the Internet's largest astrophotography communities.

    Ron will present the 2011 Hubble Lecture at the beginning of this year's Saturday session on November 5. Please join the Board in offering Ron your heartiest congratulations!

    Second AIC Board Member receives AAS Chambliss Award

    The AIC Board of Directors is very excited to announce that Board Member R. Jay GaBany has been named the 2011 Chambliss Amateur Achievement Award winner by the American Astronomical Society (AAS). This annual award is presented to an amateur astronomer who has made significant contributions to science and is one of amateur astronomy's most prestigious honors. It's a rare event to know a Chambliss Award winner but, even more amazing, this is the second AIC Board member to receive this distinction- Steve Mandell, one of the AIC founders, was also selected in 2008.

    Jay is the imaging team leader of the Stellar Tidal Stream Survey headed by Dr. David Martinez-Delgado of the Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy. Dr. Delgado spoke on this subject at the AIC meeting in 2009. Jay pioneered image processing methods that revealed the existence of dim star streams around distant galaxies and other faint galactic structures. Many of these features were previously unseen by professional researchers.

    Jay spent hundreds of hours on this research and is co-author of several scientific papers on the subject that have appeared in the Astrophysical Journal and other leading research publications.

    Congratulations to our fellow board member and friend, Jay GaBany!

    Learn more about Jay's work on his web site:

    AAVSO Requests Archival Data for V1647 Ori and McNeil's Nebula

    Dr. Colin Aspin (U. Hawaii) has requested archival images and other observations of the FU Orionis variable V1647 Ori and the surrounding field over the previous 10 years in support of a study of this star. Aspin writes that he is hoping to obtain more data with which to create a multi-year light curve of this star to put present-day observations in context of its past behavior.

    The AAVSO international database contains fewer than 50 observations of this star over the past ten years; however, V1647 Ori lies near the bright reflection nebula M78 (central coordinates: RA: 05 46 46.7, Dec +00 00 50), and is believed to be the illumination source of the recently erupted object McNeil's Nebula, first discovered in 2003. Observers with deep-sky images of the M78 field and/or of McNeil's Nebula may have images in which V1647 Ori/McNeil's Nebula are visible. AAVSO observers with sufficient experience in image reduction are asked to photometer their images to obtain magnitudes of V1647 Ori and to submit these data to the AAVSO; Aspin also requests that you contact him for copies of your images as well. All observers are invited to contact Dr. Aspin directly ( with questions and for further information and assistance; he notes that any observers who provide useful data on V1647 Ori and/or McNeil's Nebula will be acknowledged by name in the forthcoming publication to be submitted to the Astronomical Journal.

    V1647 Ori is located at the following (J2000) coordinates:
    • RA: 05 46 13.14 , Dec: -00 06 04.8
    Charts for the V1647 Ori field are available via VSP: Note: due to the presence of nebulosity in this region, observers should consider plotting DSS charts rather than using the default plotting option.

    Please submit your observations to the AAVSO using the name "V1647 Ori". Information on submitting may be found at

    More Imagers Stay Close to Home, Remote Imaging Growth Stalled

    According to the 2010 Advanced Imaging Conference survey, distributed to attendees of its most recent meeting, 62% operate their instruments from their backyards or somewhere near where they live- an increase of 11% compared to responses to the same question in 2008. Virtually all of this change came at the expense of traveling to a dark location.

    In 2010, only 18% were willing to take their equipment far from home, a drop from 29% in 2008. The percentage of respondents reporting use of remote controlled facilities, via the Internet, remained constant, at 20%, throughout the last three years indicating growth in this important sector has stalled. The number of permanent observatories dropped 2% from the 2009 survey indicating an up-tick in portable mount preference.

    The recent analysis was based on 151 responses representing over 50% of the conference's 2010 attendance. Similar response percentages were received in the 2008 and 2009 surveys.

    Astrophotographic experience levels reported by respondents at the three recent meetings were similar with 75% reporting 3 or more years of involvement with the hobby in 2010- a growth of about 3% over 2008.

    "Clearly, the AIC is attended by enthusiasts who have dedicated many years to this hobby," said the conference's president, Ken Crawford. "However, since a quarter of our registrations are from beginner and intermediate imagers, we plan to continue offering topics and workshops that help encourage their continued involvement with the hobby given its steep learning curve and built-in challenges."

    97% of the 2010 surveys also rated the conference's registration process as satisfactory or very satisfactory. Materials and overall organization met with a 98% approval while the speaker line-up fetched thumbs up from 99% of the survey respondents!

    The surveys also contained a great wealth of ideas for 2011 speakers and topics plus other suggestions to improve future meetings.

    This information was reviewed at a recent meeting of the AIC Board of Directors who are using it to shape the 2011 agenda. The Board was grateful for everyone who took time to complete and submit the questionnaire.

    Revisit Scenes from AIC 2010

    For the past two years, the AIC has procured candid photos throughout the long weekend proceedings that capture some of the folks and events occurring during the meeting. Viewing them will re-kindle the excitement and wonder you experienced or provide a glimpse of what you missed.

    Attending AIC is more than just learning new techniques, inspecting the latest technology and regaling night time victories and travails. AIC is about sharing ideas, renewing friendships and meeting friends you've come to know through the Internet. This sense of community is at the heart of each conference- it seeps into each presentation and acts as the guiding light for its agenda.

    So, take a moment to reminisce. Each picture in our Meeting Memory Gallery is worth more than a thousand words!

    The 2010 AIC Image Gallery Showcases the Best from the Brightest

    The 2010 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 over 100 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:

    2010 AIC Gallery

    2010 Presentation Downloads Available to Conference Attendees

    A complete set of 2010 conference presentations is available for 2010 AIC conferees to download and review at their convenience. However, access to these files will remain limited to 2010 attendees until the second half of 2011 and require the submission of a username and 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.

    2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010

    Plan to attend the eighth annual 2011 Advanced Imaging Conference

    Mark your calendars, set aside Friday, November 4 through Sunday, November 6, 2011 and plan to attend the next Advanced Imaging Conference! Next year's meeting will convene at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara- the same hotel where the 2010 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 2011 will showcase the latest technology from our community's leading vendors, manufacturers and service providers.

    All meals are included in the conference fee:
    • continental breakfast on Friday;
    • full breakfast Saturday and Sunday morning and
    • both lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday.
    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.

    But, don't come alone! Bring your spouse, companion or your entire family and, for a small additional per person fee, they can tour San Francisco 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!

    This newsletter and its contents are copyright 2011 Advanced Imaging Conference.

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