GRAS Proudly Announces Incredible Tool for Photometry is Now Available at New Mexico Facility

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Photometrica is the first Browser-based Photometry Analysis Tool that is seamlessly integrated into the GRAS global network system at New Mexico. Photometrica is a GRAS proprietary, browser based, scientific software analysis application; a tool that provides the ability for GRAS subscribers to perform instant photometry of images taken with the remote telescopes at GRAS. Unlimited access to this service is provided as a monthly subscription at extra cost.

Geir Klingenberg-02, Author of Photometrica

There is a strong possibility that Photometrica will greatly bring about a significant change in the way photometry is performed today. The technological advances achieved with this software will enable much more efficient use of telescope systems like the ones in use at GRAS

GRAS announced today the availability of Photometrica, a web-based photometric analysis program that works in concert with the telescopes available through subscription to the Global Rent-A-Scope (GRAS) (http://global-rent-a-scope.com) observatories. Like access to the GRAS Global Telescope Network, Photometrica is available through subscription ($9.95/month). An informative tutorial that takes the investigator through the various steps of analysis and options is available.

On a typical run, the observer selects the option to save images for analysis by Photometrica before taking a series of images. Photometrica then harvests each image to a server where it is calibrated and made available for analysis. The investigator then opens Photometrica (password protected) and selects the image sequences to be analyzed by date of observation. The status of each image is displayed, including the position and time of observation as well as the calibration status (for example, BDF means the image is fully calibrated by applying bias, dark and flat frames).

The images are then analysed through a highly interactive user interface to extract the pertinent information. Once satisfied with the results, the investigator can automatically generate an AAVSO report as a text file. In addition, the investigator can save the comparison star results as either a text file or an excel file for future reference.

Typical projects where Photometrica can enhance the experience and productivity of those interested in photometry.

  •     Monitor variable stars
  •     Measure the magnitude and position of novae, supernovae and gamma ray Burster's (in near real time)
  •     Measure light curves of short period variables
  •     Eclipse timings of binary stars
  •     Observe extra solar planets
  •     Measure color and approximate spectral type of stars
  •     Create H-R diagrams of clusters
  •     A quick way to establish a suitable exposure time based on SNR before an imaging session starts

Basic operation and selected features (see images to the right):

  •     GRAS Photometrica lets you do both image acquisition and analysis through the browser!
  •     Image remotely using the GRAS science scopes
  •     Control the scopes in real time, or set them up to launch scripts automatically and unattended
  •     Proper calibration of the CCD images is essential for doing accurate photometry. The user is shielded from this complicated process since all images will automatically be calibrated (bias, dark and flat).
  •     Also, the images will be plate solved. This makes identifying stars easier
  •     When the imaging software is done, the images will be available for analysis in Photometrica:
  •     View essential information in an intuitive list format
  •     All FITS header information available on a detailed level
  •     Stack images to increase Signal-to-Noise ratio (and thus bring out weaker stars)
  •     Download images for your own archive
  •     Inspect and analyze an image by clicking the object name link:
  •     Do aperture photometry on the CCD images
  •     RA/Dec is displayed as the mouse moves across the image (provided a successfully plate solve)
  •     Add as many target, comp and check stars as needed
  •     Can be done manually, or automatically imported by file or from the AAVSO comparison star database (provided a successfully plate solve)
  •     Inspect each measurement in detail:
  •     Gives about as much information about the star as any investigator might wish to examine
  •     Star profile
  •     Photometric growth and SNR curves
  •     3D-view of ADU data
  •     ADU data in tabular format
  •     Comprehensive result report
  •     Comparison star list that makes it possible to identify bad comp stars
  •     Export to Excel or text file for further analysis
  •     Create AAVSO report file (extended format), ready to be submitted

Geir Klingenberg, the author of Photometrica, who resides in Rana, Norway with his wife and two daughters commented, "There is a strong possibility that Photometrica will greatly bring about a significant change in the way photometry is performed today. The technological advances achieved with this software will enable much more efficient use of telescope systems like the ones in use at GRAS,"

Geir added, "As many others I have always been fascinated by astronomy. Once I bought my first scope I was hooked, and not long after that I had built my own backyard observatory. I soon developed an interested in photometry, the art of measuring the brightness of astronomical objects. My observatory has mostly been used to do photometric time series of short period variable stars for my own projects, as well as in collaboration with AAVSO, CBA (Center for Backyard Astrophysics) and others. Although I managed to do some interesting work and got a few publications, the bad weather in this part of Norway has always been a source of frustration. Not to mention the summer nights, which are too bright to do any observing. The summer period lasts from May till September, so combined with the poor weather conditions the number of useful night per year is pretty low."

Geir continued, "A couple of good things have come out of that. For one, it has given me time to deepen myself in astronomical photometry theory, and to write custom software to ease the photometric analysis process. Secondly, it brought me to GRAS."

With a big smile Klingenberg added, "Of course, once I had tried the Global-Rent-a-Scope.com (GRAS) scopes there was no turning back. The quality of the equipment, sky conditions, availability of the scopes...and the comfort was too much to resist. Given the choice, I would think that everyone would also agree. The comfort of observing in daytime from in front of a computer compared to staying up all night fumbling with wires in -20 degrees immense. My private observatory is now once again used to admire the universe visually. My CCD observing is done remotely."

GRAS subscribers are involved in the following areas of research and exploration: Identifying astronomical objects, making measurements of brightness, intensity and direction, astrometry, robotic operations, education, optics slooh, astrophotography, galaxies, nebula, planet, space, camera, minor, planets, deep, astroimaging, photography, cameras, filters, supernova, and stars. GRAS provides access to the following resources; paramount mounts , Takahashi Telescopes, SBIG CCD Cameras , FLI Cameras, The RAS Observatory, technical support, experience, optical, systems, Instructional Tutorials presented on You Tube.

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ARNIE ROSNER
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