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R. L. Hurt (Spitzer Science Center)
The steps involved in transforming one or more astronomical FITS datasets into a print-friendly picture are similar to the photographer's role in taking a photograph. For many images, a key step is compressing dynamic range so that it can be viewed in print or onscreen. Since astronomical datasets can span many magnitudes of dynamic range, they must generally be transformed by the application of a stretch function to render into viewable 8-bit graphics. Many tools for this exist, including the Photoshop FITS LIberator which has a flexible system for stretching data. The quality of the final product can be improved by a proper understanding the characteristics of common stretch functions and how to renormalize the datasets through background subtraction and scaling. This paper will present a practical overview of these topics and show how stretch functions can be used most effectively.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.