ImageJ Activity Guide and Related Materials

As scientists, astronomers do not only take pretty pictures, but also must produce quantitative (mathematical) analyses of these pictures. There are many different methods for analyzing astronomical images, and therefore many different software tools for doing this analysis.

The ImageJ Activity Booklet below provides instructions using a software program called ImageJ. The advantages of this program are that it is Java-based (so it can run on any computer), it is free, and it is relatively user-friendly.

The booklet begins with instructions on how to download ImageJ plus some additional astronomy-related plugins, followed by directions on how to install everything correctly (for both mac and pc). After you have everything installed, there are 4 lessons (about 15-20 minutes each) that will help you get oriented with some of the most basic image processing skills needed for analyzing astronomical images and making color pictures. The images you will need for the lessons are included below as well. There are questions throughout the booklet to help guide your thinking (answers provided at the end). Enjoy!



  • ImageJ Activity Booklet (.pdf format) includes instructions for downloading and installing ImageJ and related software.
  • Material for Lesson 1: kermit.jpg (28 kB)
  • Material for Lesson 2: quintet.fits * (4.1 MB) right-click to 'Save Link As...'
  • Materials for Lesson 3 (making a color picture of M16 [the Eagle Nebula]): M16B.fits   M16V.fits   M16R.fits * (15.9 MB each) right-click to 'Save Link As...'
  • Material for Lesson 4: ngc7063_u.fits * (4.1 MB) right-click to 'Save Link As...'

* Note: To save the .fits images to your computer, either right-click (PC) or option-click (Mac) on the file name, then 'Save Link As...' to your desktop. DO NOT plain click on the image, as your browser will try to open it, and your browser will crash.

More in-depth lessons on using ImageJ can be found in the extensive online book An Introduction to Astronomical Image Processing with ImageJ.

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