Infrared and Visible Images

Purpose

The purpose of this activity is for students to make their own three-color astronomical image using visible and infrared part of the spectrum. They are to compare and contrast the differences in each image made.

Key Science Topics

  • The electromagnetic spectrum

Grade Level

  • Physics, Grades 11-12
  • May be modified for an upper-level art or computer graphics course

Student Prior Knowledge

  • Students should know the parts of the electromagnetic spectrum and characteristics of each.
  • Students should know that when discussing the electromagnetic spectrum, “redder” means longer wavelength and “bluer” means shorter wavelength.
  • Students should know that combining red, green, and blue light produces white light.
  • Photons are packets of light.

Materials

Resources

Background

The DS9 image display program can be downloaded at no cost from the following website: http://chandra-ed.harvard.edu/install.html

There are many wonderful educational tools and resources at the Chandra Education Data Analysis Software and Activities; There is a lesson on how to make three-color images using a few selected images from Chandra’s database. The user is limited to only those objects and must download another program, ImageJ, to produce the final image. This lesson describes how to make a three-color image using only DS9.

Deliverable

  • 1 x 3-color visible image
  • 1 x 3-color infrared image

Published: 06 August, 2013

Fun Fact

Shooting stars are actually tiny pieces of rock and dust that are burning up in our atmosphere. Many of these particles are left over from the tails of passing comets, so you could say you're seeing a falling comet tail, rather than a falling star.