Astronomy and Computers notesx

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14 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 7 χρόνια και 9 μήνες)

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Astronomy

How computers influence astronomy


Introduction

Computers are very important to astronomers. Astronomy is the
scientific study

of
celestial
objects

(such as
stars
,
planets
,
comets
, and
galaxies
) and
phenomena

that originate outside
the
Earth's atmosphere

(such as the
cosmic background radiation
).
It’s

one

of the oldest
sciences.
Astronomy pretty much began when the first humans ever looked up at the night
sky

and studi
ed

so it’s quite hard to determine the origin of astronomy. Technology has
really helped us gain more knowledge and understanding of the universe. C
omputer
intelligence has been able to give us
vast

amount information
regarding

the cosmos.


Platforms


The computer software and hardware depends on the knowledge and level of the
astronomer. For instance, an
amateur

astronomer might have a basic or high end
workstation with the latest Windows installed while professional organizations prefer to use
UNIX or

LINUX.
Corporations choose this
because

of the work and software
design for
governmentally funded programs exists

on the UNIX platform. NASA is an agency of the
United States Government which uses Sun Solaris, Red Hat and OS X Operating systems.
Solaris i
s one the flavours of UNIX that can be very stable and reliable when paired with Sun
machines. Linux as of late has been used frequently in their operations.


Applications


Film is rarely used these days by astronomers. In fact, most of the previous plate

film has
been digitized. Many astronomers and companies write their own codes for various scripts or
programs. One of the best
distributions

to use and is completely free is the Image Reduction
and Analysis Facilty (IRAF) which contains many programs for
general image processing
and many other amazing tools It is very difficult to use and was only recently released on a
Windows platform. Images of the nightsky are usually taken by a Charged Couple Device
(CCD) which is made up of the same material as comp
uter chips. CCDs are widely used in
professional, medical, and scientific applications where high
-
quality image data is required.
The Astronomer
programs

the variables like exposure duration, fi
lter selection, capture of the
BIAS and Flat frames and the program will do any
other

necessary

tweaks. There are many
software packa
ges online that are available.
I
t’s

very common to see more than one
application installed for further analysis.


Telecope
Control

Just about every

telescope manufacturer make a

line of telescopes that have a
computerised mount which requires

AC power. The telescope control software

work
s

together with the CCD software to ensure accuracy, focus the eye piece and capture the
im
age. There is also a lot of software to enhance these capabilities such as planetarium
software.


Planetarium Software

Planetarium software refers to an application that renders a three dimensional image onto a
2
-
d computer screen.

One program that is used

for educational purposes is Celestia that
allows users to through a broad universe, modelled after reality at any speed. It interacts and
displays various satellites and
galaxies in three
-
dim
ension using OpenGL
.

Celestia is a free
product

available for Linux, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows.

NASA and ESA have used
this program for many purposes.


Remote Access

The power of the internet and high
-
bandwidth has now opened the pathway for remote
access capabilities. The basic principle is to h
ave complete control over an automated
observatory any computer with an internet connection.

This has many benefits for
astronomers such as reduction of cost and maintenance on equipment. Also, people who
live in certain areas such as the city are restrict
ed from
dark skies; remote access removes
the light pollution barrier by remote control to a near observatory.


Internet Research

The internet is one of the biggest mediums for data analysis and imagery. It is more than
likely that with deep research that
you won’t even need a telesco
pe. There are many
archives and databases that can viewed online with efficient searching.

There are many
discoveries that have been found by NASA that are available on the web.

As a point of
interest,
the Information Space Sta
tion carries about 50 computers. Recently a laptop was
detected

with malware on the station which NASA said
non threatening.

Questions


Acknowledgements


http://iraf.noao.edu/

http://astronomyonline.org/Science/Computers.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasa