Day 1 (part 2) at the Advanced Imaging Conference 2011

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Saturday, November 05, 2011

I have now experienced a full day at the Advanced Imaging Conference (AIC), in Santa Clara, California. Earlier, I blogged about only the first half of day 1 to keep the length of that entry manageable.

Conference organizers scheduled two concurrent afternoon workshop sessions that paralleled the two in the morning. Those began at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m., and the speakers were the same seven who gave talks this morning.

Most of my afternoon activity occurred in the vendor area. Unlike my trek through there this morning (when it was still closed), the afternoon and evening saw a great deal of activity between attendees and manufacturers.

I chatted with more vendors, all of whom seemed happy about the AIC’s attendance and about the level of interest shown by conference-goers. One in particular was Phil Beffrey, creator of Celestial Parfait. This product is a totally free software program for astronomy and science education that runs on Windows machines. It provides a great-looking star atlas interface for pointing telescopes, it controls CCD and DSLR cameras, and it offers tools so that users can share observations. This is Phil’s first time at AIC, and his enthusiasm for promoting education guaranteed that he was never alone. His hope is that astronomy clubs and teachers will begin to use it in their presentations and classes and distribute it directly to members and students. Phil encourages emails telling him a little about your astronomy pursuits. In response, he’ll send you a copy of Celestial Parfait.

The Mount Lemmon SkyCenter, always interested in teaching the latest astroimaging techniques, offered a new product by founder and world-class imager Adam Block. It comes in the form of three 4-gigabyte jump drives. Each features a different deep-sky object and contains a detailed lesson from Adam’s popular Making Every Pixel Count DVD telling how to process the image data, which Adam also included with the lesson! Visit the SkyCenter’s website at

I also talked at length to Kevin Nelson, head of Quantum Scientific Imaging (QSI). The company has just released a new CCD camera, its 8.3-megapixel QSI 683. I won’t say a lot about it here because one will soon be on its way to Astronomy magazine and we’ll conduct a full review of it. Look for it in an upcoming issue. This camera will find many homes, however, because QSI integrated a five-position filter wheel really close to the CCD chip. That means the camera can use 1¼" filters, which are dramatically less expensive than other sizes.

You'll find more about the AIC at the conference website. To see more than 100 images by many AIC members, visit Astronomy magazine's AIC online photo gallery. And watch for even more blogs from this super conference throughout the weekend.

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