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How To Make A Colour Image: The Glowing Eye Tutorial

The Glowing Eye Nebula, NGC 6751 In modern astronomy, the images produced by a telescope are black and white. So how do astronomers put together the amazing colour images that we see?

Here is your chance to find out, and to assemble an image yourself!

What You'll Need

The instructions provided here will teach you everything you need to know in order to create your very own image of The Glowing Eye Nebula (a.k.a. NGC 6751). The Glowing Eye Nebula was the winning target in the 2009 Australian Gemini School Astronomy Contest.

In order to create your image, you'll need to download:

And when you're done, show us the results!

The Tutorial

There are two versions of the tutorial available, depending on the software you'll be using:

The Raw Images

The raw ingredients for your colour picture of the Glowing Eye Nebula are three black and white images taken by the Gemini Observatory in Chile. Gemini has primary mirror that is 8 metres in diameter, and the digital images produced by Gemini's GMOS instrument are each about 7 megapixels in size.

You can choose between datasets:

The Software

The tutorial can be run using

In addition, you can have even more control over the process if you download the (free) FITS Liberator program.

Whether you're using Photoshop or GIMP, be sure to download the appropriate tutorial.

When You're Finished

After you've made your own version of the Glowing Eye Nebula image, we'd love to see the results! Feel free to upload your image to our Glowing Eye Gallery on Flickr.


The images provided for the tutorial, and any images generated therefrom, may only be used for educational or non-commercial purposes. If making your images publicly available outside of the Flickr gallery, please include the following acknowledgement: "This image was derived from data obtained at the Gemini Observatory."


The tutorial provided here was created by Professor Travis Rector, from the University of Alaska Anchorage, with modifications by Dr. Christopher Onken, from the Australian Gemini Office and Mount Stromlo Observatory.
Australian Gemini Office, ausgo -@-