MEvsNASA Image Contest: Whirlpool Galaxy

#MEvsNASA

Compare Your MicroObservatory Image to NASA's Great Observatory Images

For the past 30 years, NASA has explored the mysteries of outer space through images taken from a fleet of telescopes orbiting around the Earth, collectively known as the Great Observatories. With MicroObservatory, you — yes, you! — have the remarkable opportunity to control telescopes, capture images, and explore the same mysteries alongside NASA.

The Challenge

Request and process a MicroObservatory image of the Whirlpool Galaxy using the JS9 software.
Then compare yours to a NASA image of the Whirlpool Galaxy, taken by one of the Great Observatories:

  • Hubble Space Telescope (ultraviolet and visible light wavelengths)
  • Chandra X-Ray Telescope (x-ray wavelengths)
  • Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared wavelengths)

What To Do: the short version

What To Do: the long version

Who Can Participate?

Anyone can participate! You just need an email address to receive the images you request through the MicroObservatory robotic telescopes.

If you are 12 or younger, you will need a parent or guardian to submit your photos for you.

How Do I Enter?

To enter the contest, fill out this form with your processed image, as well as a NASA-processed image for comparison.

Contest Winners

The Science Education team at the Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory will review all submissions, and choose a winner in these two categories:


Best Image Processing
that demonstrates your ability with MicroObservatory

Test your creativity! There are many different ways to process an image. If you want some new ideas, check out the MicroObservatory Tutorials that are included on the Tools & Training page. They might help you think of new ways to bring out the most in your images!

Most Interesting Comparison
between your image and a NASA-processed image

It's quite all right if your image and NASA's image look very different. You and NASA are looking at one object from two different perspectives. Maybe that means using two different wavelengths of light, or maybe two different creative interpretations. What story does your image tell?

We will announce the winners of this season’s contest on our facebook page, our twitter page, as well as on the Observing with NASA website.

By entering this contest, you agree to allow Smithsonian to publish the images and information you provide in your submission form.
We will only use this information to recognize you on our website and social media if you win.

THE WINNERS' CIRCLE
Winter 2018 Contest: The Orion Nebula

Best Image Processing
Daniella O.
for Orion's Photoshoot

Image taken and processed by Daniella O.
Daniella O's Orion Nebula
Image taken by Spitzer, processed by NASA
Daniella O's Orion Nebula

Daniella's Comparison:
"Similar colour scheme, and perpendicular to NASA's image. Much more minimalistic!"

Most Interesting Comparison
Tera L.
for Orion Nebula Piece

Image taken and processed by Tera L.
Tera L's Orion Nebula
Image taken by Hubble, processed by NASA
Tera L's Orion Nebula

Tera's Comparison:
"Well it obvious I'm not quite as talented as whoever did this NASA photo but I am getting a lot better than when I started off. My Orion is a bit simple I'll admit but I feel that I have improved a lot so I think it's OK if I compare this photo to the NASA photo and say it pretty good."

What To Do: the short version

Here are the four basic steps to participate in the contest. But if this isn't informative enough, read What To Do: the long version below.


  • Request an image of the Whirlpool Galaxy on the Observing with NASA page.
  • Process your image of the Whirlpool Galaxy with the JS9-4L web application.
  • Choose a NASA image to compare it to.
  • Fill out this form, where you will submit your images to the MEvsNASA Image Contest.

What To Do: the long version

MicroObservatory is a free and easy web application that allows you to control telescopes from your computer. You can request images through MicroObservatory, and then turn them into informative or artistic photographs using our JS9-4L image-processing software.

STEP A: Request Your Image

  • Go to www.microobservatory.org.
  • Click on the Observing with NASA portal, and then the Control Telescope tab.
  • Find the Whirlpool Galaxy, and then click the Observe button below it.
  • Fill out the necessary fields, and then submit your image request.
  • Your image will be emailed to you the next day.

Not sure what to do?

Watch the following tutorial:
How to Request an Image

Find other useful tutorials on the Tools & Training page.

STEP B: Create Your Image

  • Go to www.microobservatory.org.
  • Click on the Observing with NASA portal, and then the Analyze Images tab.
    • ➭ Open the image of the Whirlpool Galaxy that you were emailed in Step A.
    • OR!
    • ➮ Choose from the images of the Whirlpool Galaxy in the Archived Images dropdown.
  • Use the processing tools included with the JS9-4L processor to enhance your image. Get creative!

Not sure what to do?

Watch the following tutorials:
How to Open an Image
How to Process a FITS Image
How to Create an RGB Image
How to Create an Advanced RGB Image

Find other useful tutorials on the Tools & Training page.

STEP C: Submit Your Image

  • Save your image to your computer as either a PNG or JPEG file.
  • Choose a NASA image of the Whirlpool Galaxy that you'll compare your image to:

  • Fill out this form, where you will submit your images to MicroObservatory’s MEvsNASA image contest.
  • While you’re at it, why not share your photo on Facebook and Twitter, too! Use the contest hashtag #MEvsNASA, and mention @MicroObs (Twitter) or @MicroObservatory (Facebook).

When does the contest end?

The contest will end on July 15th, at which point we will choose winners and announce them on Facebook, Twitter and the MicroObservatory website.