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An Illustrated Bibliography of Astronomical Photography

by David Malin
    The techniques I have developed are a unified system of astronomical photography capable of revealing new information about the both the faintest and brightest of objects in the night sky. They were designed specifically for the unusual imaging requirements of scientific astronomy, but it soon became apparent that some of the images were of interest to a wider audience, especially when the image enhancement techniques were combined with a three-colour process. Essentially, a range of techniques can be used to enhance, modify or manipulate the information on black and white photographic negatives. If these negatives are subsequently used to make a three-colour picture, the enhancements are incorporated in that as well, and this has opened new possibilities for astronomical colour photography. A shorter outline of the colour process available elsewhere, and some practical details are here. What follows is for those who want the - er - full picture.

The key elements are the use of diffuse light contact copying for all stages of image transfer except the last, which usually employs an enlarger, and a simple additive method for combining many plates into either very deep images or colour pictures - or both. All the methods are non-destructive and employ simple equipment and readily-available materials. They are described in more detail in the Technical Appendix of Colours of the Stars by David Malin and Paul Murdin (Cambridge University Press, 1984). Many of the references there are reproduced below, which is an updated version of the bibliographic section of A View of the Universe by David Malin (Cambridge University Press, 1993).

The techniques have been developed over a long period and have resulted in many publications, and a selection of them appear here. A complete listing of scientific papers and other publications is available on line.

Some of the techniques were specifically devised for particular astronomical photographic problems, and are described in the discovery papers, while other publications are of more general nature or are directed to photographic rather than astronomical readers. The following is a list of the main scientific publications with significant photographic content, together with a selection of publications showing the range of useful things that can be done in astronomy with photography. I have also included a few `popular' articles that will be more accessible to the general reader. In most cases the titles of these are self explanatory. A list of journal abbreviations can be found at the end of this document.

Unsharp masking

A technique for exploring the densest parts of photographic negatives to reveal structure in extended objects.

Unsharp Masking

AAS Photo-Bull. No.16, pp10-13 (1977).
This is the definitive reference for application of unsharp masking in astronomy. Full details of the process are given, including establishing the sensitometric and spatial properties of the mask itself. Though these principles have not changed, I no longer use the processing recommendations given here for making unsharp masks, though the preferred film remains the same. This was the first publication of an unsharp masked image of a UK Schmidt plate of the Carina nebula .

Astrophotography with Unsharp Masking
(With W.J. Zealey) Sky and Telescope 57 No. 4, 354-359 (1979). A non-technical discussion of the technique and its possibilities, illustrated with a USM image of the Orion nebula .

Unsharp Masking J. Astron. Soc. of Pacific, (Mercury ) 8 No. 4, 89-93 (1979)
A general article on the topic. Includes black and white images of NGC 253 and the Lagoon nebula (M8) .

New Optical Observations of Galactic Supernova Remnants. (With W.J. Zealey and K.H. Elliott) Astron. and Astrophys. Supp.38 39-49 (1979).

The Structure of the Faint Nebulosity and Obscuration toward M8, M20 and W28. (With H. Hartl, H.T. MacGillivray and W.J. Zealey) Ap J Lett. 23 193-205 (1983)
Photographic amplification and unsharp masking used together to reveal complex, low contrast but sharp edged supernova remnants and other structures in a crowded star field containing diffuse nebulosity.

Direct Photographic Image Enhancement in Astronomy J. Phot. Sci. 29 No.5, 199-205 (1981).
A review of photographic amplification and unsharp masking from the photographic science point of view. The paper also includes a very deep image of Centaurus A (with 'normal' image superimposed), and a demonstration of image superimposition for improving the signal to noise ratio by combining several black and white images.

Shell Structure in NGC 5128 (With P.J. Quinn and J.H. Graham) Ap J Lett. 272 L5-L7 (1983)
The shells in Centaurus A were discovered because this plate was being used to demonstrate the technique of unsharp masking to photographic staff at CTIO.

Structures in the Gas Tail of Comet Halley Nature 320 577 (1986)

Photographic Amplification

To reveal the faintest objects
Photographic Amplification
of Faint Astronomical Images
Nature 276 591-593 (1978)
The first publication of the technique of photographic amplification discusses the basic principle behind the method and describes the process itself. Includes new before and after images of the Puppis supernova remnant.

A Jet Associated with M89. Nature 277 279-280 (1979). Photographic amplification and unsharp masking used together to reveal faint and low contrast features associated with an elliptical galaxy. Though not appreciated at the time, M89 was the first 'shell' galaxy. In the published picture of M89 the original image is inset, to same scale as the main, amplified image.

Giant Shells around Elliptical Galaxies (With D. Carter) Nature 285 643-645 (1980) The discovery of faint shells around apparently normal elliptical galaxies such as NGC 1344 .

Photographic Enhancement of Direct Astronomical Images AAS Photo-Bull. No. 27 (1981, No 2) pp4-9. Reviews of photographic techniques with a more detailed discussion of the mechanism of photographic amplification, illustrated with many examples, including a very deep image of M84 and M86 at the core of the Virgo cluster of galaxies.

A Catalog of Elliptical Galaxies with Shells (With D. Carter) Ap J. 274 534-540 (1983) While the discovery of shells around elliptical galaxies was unexpected, the generality of the phenomenon was very surprising. This paper lists 150 new examples and illustrates some unusual specimens, such as NGC 1344 , NGC 3923 , and NGC 1549-53 , mostly discovered using photographic amplification on UK Schmidt plates.

Faint Object Detection on Photographic Plates. (With W.J. Couch, R.S. Ellis, E.J. Kibblewhite and J. Godwin). MNRAS 209 307-315 (1984). A comparison of the detection of faint images of clusters of galaxies using the eye and automatic measuring machines on photographically amplified images.

Faint Structures in the NGC 2261 Region (With J.R. Walsh) MNRAS 217 31-40 (1985). A study of Herbig-Haro objects associated with Hubble's variable nebula, triggered by photographic amplification of a photographic plate of the region.

Food for Photometrists -- Faint Galaxies Revealed In New Aspects of Galaxy Photometry , J-L Nieto, editor. (Springer-Verlag 1985), pp27-32. (No. 232 in the series Lecture Notes in Physics ).

Infrared Cirrus and HI in Directions near the LMC (With R.X. McGee, R.F. Hanes and R.J.-M. Grognard) MNRAS 221 543-552 (1986). The detection of very faint, large scale galactic reflection nebulosity easily confused with the Magellanic Stream.

Herbig-Haro Objects in the Vicinity of NGC 2023 (With K. Ogura and J.R. Walsh) MNRAS 227 361-372 (1987) The discovery of Herbig-Haro objects within and around NGC 2023 at the base of the Horsehead nebula

Discovery of a Huge, Low Surface Brightness Galaxy: a Proto-disk Galaxy at Low Redshift? (With G.D. Bothun, C.D. Impey and J.R. Mould) AJ. 94 23-29 (1987). The discovery of Malin-1 during a search of UK Schmidt plates for faint galaxies in the Virgo cluster.

The AAO Distant Galaxy Cluster Survey (With W.J. Couch and R.S. Ellis) In The World of Galaxies, Corwin and Bottinelli, editors (Springer-Verlag, NY, 1989). Proceedings of Conference Le Monde des Galaxies, Paris, April 1988 pp25-28.

A uniformly-selected catalogue of distant galaxy clusters (With W.J. Couch, R.S. Ellis, and I. MacLaren) MNRAS 249 606-628 (1991) Photographic amplification used to select images of very distant clusters of galaxies recorded serendipitously on AAT photographic plates taken for other purposes. What are the Emission Line Filaments along the Radio Axis of Centaurus A? (With R. Morganti, C.N. Tadhunter, and R.A.E Fosbury) In BL Lac Objects, L.Maraschi, T.Maccacaro and M-H. Ulrich, editors. Lecture Notes in Physics series (Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1989)

The nature of the optical filaments in Centaurus A: Evidence for a beamed ionising continuum (With R. Morganti, A. Robinson, R.A.E Fosbury, S. di Serego Alighieri and C.N. Tadhunter) MNRAS 249 91-112 (1991) Faint filaments in the outer envelope of the galaxy are examined and considered as evidence that from certain perspectives, the relativistic beam from active nucleus of the galaxy can be `seen' by material at considerable distances from the source. The filaments themselves are quite insignificant, and require image enhancement to make them visible, but are evidence that Centaurus A is the nearest quasar-like galaxy.

An Optical Counterpart to the H I Cloud in the Local Supercluster (with C.D. Impey, G. Bothun, and L. Staveley-Smith) Ap J Lett. 351 L33-L35 (1990) The discovery of a large cloud of hydrogen gas relatively nearby let to the search for a star-forming region with it. This paper reports the discovery of a faint, irregular galaxy in just the right place.

Combined Techniques, Image Addition and Subtraction

To reveal ever fainter objects by adding together images derived from several plates and to reveal differences between photographs of the same objects.

The Interaction Between the Relativistic Jets of SS433 and the Interstellar Medium
(With W.J. Zealey, and M.A. Dopita) MNRAS 92 731- 743 (1980).
The discovery of faint wisps of nebulosity associated with the famous jets of SS433.

Virgo Dwarfs: New Light on Faint Galaxies
(With G.D. Bothun, and C.D. Impey ) Ap J. 330 634-660 (1988)
A follow-up study of a large number of very faint galaxies in the Virgo cluster, initially selected from UK Schmidt plates by photographic amplification and image addition.

The Superimposition of Multiple Plates
Astrophotography, Proceedings of 1987 IAU Photographic Working Group meeting, Jena, April, 1987, S. Marx, editor. (Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 1988). pp125-132.
A demonstration of the value of adding together photographically amplified copies of large numbers of plates. An image obtained by combining 36 plates is reproduced.

Photographic imaging of light echoes from SN 1987A
(With W.J. Couch and D.A. Allen) MNRAS 242 555-559 (1989)
The first publication to clearly show the complexity of the light echoes of supernova 1987A, revealed by a photographic amplification and subtraction technique.

The Extended Red Emission Filaments of NGC 2023
(With A.N.
Witt) Ap J Lett. 347 L25-L27. (1989)
The discovery of filaments of anomalous red emission in the well-know reflection nebula at the base of the Horsehead nebula by subtracting images of two colours after unsharp masking.

Extracting the Image in Astronomical Photography
TechBits Magazine, (Eastman Kodak) 1990, Issue 1, pp1-10.
A well-illustrated, largely non-technical description of the black and white photographic processes that are useful in astronomy, especially as a preliminary to making colour pictures. Part 2 of this article (listed under Colour Photography) shows how the black and whites are made into colour images.


A process necessary to enhance the sensitivity of photographic materials to faint light

The Effect of Environment on the Sensitivity of Hydrogen Hypersensitised Plates.
Modern Techniques in Astronomical Photography, pp107-112 . Proceedings of ESO Conference, Geneva, West and Heudier, editors (ESO, 1978).
Hypersensitising a dried emulsion with hydrogen is an important part of astronomical photography for both amateur and professional. It is not widely appreciated that the dried emulsion rapidly absorbs moisture from its surroundings during exposure, negating the beneficial effects of hypersensitisation. This paper was an early attempt to quantify that loss of long-exposure speed and it recommends exposure in a nitrogen atmosphere, now standard practice at the AAT and UKST.

Colour Photography
A three-colour process that can embody the above techniques

Colour Photography on the 3.9m AAT and 1.2m Schmidt Telescopes.
Modern Techniques in Astronomical Photography, pp235-237. Proceedings of ESO Conference, Geneva, West and Heudier, editors (ESO, 1978).
Early results using colour film and a brief discussion of the reasons for not using it.

Colour Photography in Astronomy
Vistas in Astronomy 24 Pt. 3, 219-238 (1980).
The first, comprehensive technical account of three-colour photography in astronomy, including a review of the origins of colour photography and earlier work in astronomy with colour film.

Colours of the Stars
(With Paul Murdin) Cambridge University Press 1984, pp198.
The Technical Appendix of this book summarises the three-colour process of making astronomical colour photographs.

Astronomical Color Photography
McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 7th ed., 1985.
Encyclopaedia article on colour photography in astronomy.

A Universe of Color
TechBits Magazine, (Eastman Kodak) 1990, Issue 3, 1990 pp3-11.
A largely non-technical, well-illustrated description of three-colour photography in astronomy. The article compares the spectral response of colour film, Tech Pan and spectroscopic plates.

A Celebration of Colour in Astrophysics
Current Science (Indian Academy of Sciences) 60 No.1, 1991, 59pp (complete issue)
The publication that grew into A View of the Universe

General Scientific Articles and Reviews

Special Photographic Techniques Applied to Schmidt Plates
Proceedings of the Second I.A.U. Asian-Pacific Regional meeting, Bandung, Indonesia 1981, B. Hidayat, editor, pp398-401. (Tira Pustaka, Jakarta 1984).

Photographic Image Intensification and Reduction: A Unified Optical Approach.
J Phot Sci. 30 No. 3, 87-94 (1982).
The diffuse-light contact copying process used for photographic amplification can also be used to recover information from seriously under- or over- exposed conventional negatives. This paper demonstrates a direct, non-destructive substitute for chemical intensification or reduction using a direct duplication film designed for graphic arts applications. The paper also includes a novel way of controlling the contrast of direct duplicating materials over a very wide range using a pre-flashing technique.

The Detection of Faint Objects against the Sky Background.
Astronomy with Schmidt-type telescopes . IAU Colloquium No. 78, Asiago, Aug-Sept 1983, M.Capaccioli, editor (D. Reidel, Dordrecht, 1984) pp57-72.

Where to next in Astronomical Photography?
Proceedings of the 1984 IAU Photographic Working Group Meeting, Edinburgh, April 3-6, 1984, M.E. Sim and H. Ishida, editors, (Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, 1984) pp111-118.
Many examples of discoveries made using recently-developed photographic techniques and a discussion of new materials for astronomical photography in its future prospects.

Advanced techniques for astronomical photography and
Additive colour photography in astronomy
Temmon Gaido, Tokyo, pp133-148, December 1986, (in Japanese).

The Age of the Specialist in Astronomical Photography
Astrophotography, Proceedings of 1987 IAU Photographic Working Group meeting, Jena, April, 1987, S. Marx, editor. (Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 1988). pp2-20.
A discussion of the modernisation of the way professional astronomical photography is practiced in the electronic age.

Astronomical Photography under the Microscope
Today's Science Tomorrow's Technology , Brennan and Millar, Editors, pp 87-104. (Pergamon Press, Sydney 1989).
A historical review of the gradual invention of photography and of the contribution astronomers have made to the improvement of the photographic process since its discovery.

The Astronomical Photography of Gerard de Vaucouleurs
In A Life for Astronomy, M. Capaccioli and H.G. Corwin, editors. (World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1989). pp 53-64.
A review which spans 45 years, covering the photographic work of one of the best-known astronomers. De Vaucouleurs' efforts to make photography a quantitative tool has led to many discoveries, especially in the field of galaxies.

'Popular' Articles

Includes several non-technical descriptions of the photographic processes and discoveries made with them.

General articles in serials, magazines

A New Look at Southern Skies
Text by Simon Mitton, pictures by David Malin.
Illustrated London News 265 No. 6953, 39-42 (1977)
The Stars-by AAT Illustrations by David Malin. North West and Hunter Magazine 15 May 1978.
Astrophotography with Unsharp Masking (with W.J. Zealey) Sky and Telescope 57 No. 4, 354-359 (1979)
Unsharp Masking J. Astron. Soc. of Pacific, (Mercury) 8 No. 4, 89-93 (1979)
Exploring the image Astronomy (USA) 7 No. 11, 16-23 (1979)
The southern skies explored Astronomy (USA) 8 No. 2, 4- 14 (1980)
The colors of deep space Astronomy (USA) 8 No. 3, 6-13 (1980)
Capturing ancient light Illum. Eng. Soc. Austral. Rev., 42 No. 4, 100-103 (1980)
Australia's window to the Universe Sundowner October 1980, 42-49 and 98
Astronomical Photography - a Very Peculiar Business
The Southern Sky, CSIRO Publication, February 1981
Improved techniques for astrophotography Sky and Telescope 62 4-7, July 1981.
The deep sky in colorSky and Telescope 62 216-219, September 1981.
The Orion Nebula in color Sky and Telescope 62 414-417, November 1981.
A look at some unstable stars Sky and Telescope 63 22-26, January 1981.
The dust clouds of Sagittarius Sky and Telescope 63 254-259, March 1982.
A View of the Universe the story of the AAT, Compiled by David Allen and David Malin. Published by the Anglo-Australian Telescope Board, 1981.
Searching the southern skies Australian Natural History 20 No. 9, 285-289 (1982)
Der Orionnebel in Farbe Sterne und Weltraum 21 295- 298 (1982)
Uber einige unstabile Sterne Sterne and Weltraum 22 118-122 (1983)
Shooting Stars Qantas Inflight Magazine, 6-10, March/April 1986
In Search of Star Colors Sky and Telescope 72 326-330, October 1986.
The Splendor of Eta Carinae Sky and Telescope 73 14-18, January 1987.
Advanced techniques for astronomical photography and
Additive colour photography in astronomy
Temmon Gaido, Tokyo, pp133-148, December 1986, (in Japanese).
More Anglo-Australian Telescope Photographs from David Malin.
J. Astron. Soc. of Pacific, (Mercury) 16 48-54, March/April 1987.
More about Star Colours Letter to the Editor, Sky and Telescope 74 358, April 1987.
In the Shadow of the Horsehead Nebula
Sky and Telescope 74 253-257, September 1987.
Things to See and Do in the Dark J. Brit. astron. Assoc. 97 288-290, August 1987.
The Developing Art of Star PhotographyNew Scientist 120 23-28, December 17, 1988.
NGC 3576 and 3603 in CarinaSky and Telescope 78 144- 145, August 1989.
Star Trails and Quantum Leaping: Astronomy for new Audiences
Audio-Visual production with Martin Wesley-Smith. In Newsletter of the Australian Astronomy and Space Liason Group, Nick Lomb, editor, No. 15, March, 1989, pp51-53.
Echoes of the Supernova (with David Allen) Sky and Telescope 79 22-25, January 1990.
Deep Space Photography in Guide to Australian Astronomy, Ed. Jon Fairall, Federal Publishing Co., pp56-67, July 1989.
Peculiar galaxies I have known Southern Astronomy2 20-27 (1990)
Photographing the colours of the stars Australian Geographic, pp103, Issue 19, July 1990
Beeldbewerking in de astrophotographie
Zenit, (Utrecht) Dutch astronomy magazine, 1/91, pp4-13.
A Celebration of Colour in Astronomy
Current Science 60 No. 1, 5-32 (1991) Published by the Indian Academy of Sciences
Des geschiedenis van de astrofotografie
Zenit, (Utrecht) Dutch astronomy magazine, 1/92, p4-11.
A Night and a day with David Malin Popular Astronomy, April, 1992. p30
Astronomy in Colour Astronomy Now , May 1992. p7
Kleurrijk heelal Zenit, (Utrecht) Dutch astronomy magazine, 5/92, pp196-203.
Den Mörka Nätters Fargfyrværkeri
Illustreret Videnskab (Copenhagen) No. 11, November, 1992, p67-71. 80.
De Stereenhemel is kleurrijker dan iedereen denkt
Kijk Magazine, Netherlands, Jan 1993, pp34-39.
Images of the CG4 cometary globule. Sky and Telescope 86 (1) 36-37, July 1993
Discovering the Color of the Crab Nebula. (with Jay Pasachoff).
Sky and Telescope 86 (1) 43-46, July 1993
A Universe of Color Scientific American 269 72-77 1993
Images of NGC 1365 in Fornax.Sky and Telescope 88 (4) 40-1, October 1994
The Vela Supernova Remnant. Sky and Telescope 88 (5) 48-9, November 1994
Images of the Antenna galaxy in Corvus. Sky and Telescope 88 (6) 42-3, December 1994
Images of NGC 6188 and 6193 in Ara. Sky and Telescope 89 (3) 52-53, March, 1995
The Nebula Around 30 Doradus. Sky and Telescope 89 (6) 32-32, June, 1995
A Faint Planetary Nebula--Ack 277.7-03.5. Sky and Telescope 90:1 37, July, 1995
Les Galaxies Fantômes Ciel et Espace, 58-63, No. 309, January 1996
The Sculptor Group Galaxy NGC 253. Sky and Telescope 91 (5) 20-21, May, 1996


Slide sets

Published by the The Armagh Planetarium Armagh, Northern Ireland.
Photographs, text and captions by David Malin.

Stars and Galaxies I 30-Slide set of AAT photographs, 1983.
Stars and Galaxies II 24-Slide set of AAT photographs, 1988.
Stellar Camera 24-Slide set of UK Schmidt photographs, 1988.
Stars and Galaxies III 24-Slide set of AAT photographs, 1993.
Stars and Galaxies IV 24-Slide set of AAT photographs, 1996.

Published by Astronomical Society of the Pacific San Francisco.
Photographs, text and captions by David Malin.

Splendors of the Universe I. 15-slide set of AAT photographs, 1986.
Splendors of the Universe II. 15-slide set of AAT photographs,1990.
Splendors of the Universe III 15-slide set of UKST photographs, 1990.
Splendors of the Universe IV. 15-slide set of AAT photographs,1993.
Splendors of the Universe V. 15-slide set of AAT photographs, 1990.



Catalogue of the Universe by Paul Murdin, David Allen and David Malin.
Cambridge University Press (Crown Publishing edition in the USA) 1979, 288pp, ISBN 0-521-22859-X
(2nd edition, 1980).
Catlogo dell'universo Editori Riuniti (Catalogue of the Universe, Italian edition, 1981)

Colours of the Stars by David Malin and Paul Murdin, Cambridge University Press 1984, pp198, ISBN 0-521-25714-X
Couleurs des Étoiles Masson, Paris 1986. (Colours of the Stars, French edition)
Farbige Welt der Sterne CH Verlagsgesellschaft, Weinheim 1986. (Colours of the Stars, German edition)

A View of the Universe by David Malin. Cambridge University Press 1993, pp 264 ISBN-0-521-44477-2
Blick ins Weltall Franckh- Kosmos, Stuttgart 1994 (A View of the Universe, German edition).

Hartung's Astronomical Objects for Southern Telescopes Revised and illustrated by David Malin and David Frew. Melbourne University Press, 1995, pp 448, ISBN-0-522-84553-3.

Explorers of the Southern Sky: A History of Astronomy in Australia
R. and R.F. Haynes, D.F. Malin, R.X. McGee. Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp 527, ISBN-0-521-36575-9

A View of the Universe and Hartung's Astronomical Objects for Southern Telescopes are available from Sky Publishing Corporation in the USA and Cambridge University Press in the UK and USA.


Journal Abbreviations

AAS Photo-Bulletin American Astronomical Society Photo-Bulletin
AJ. Astronomical Journal
Ap J. Astrophysical Journal
Ap J Lett. Astrophysical Journal (Letters)
Astron. and Astrophys. Supp. Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement
MNRAS Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
J Phot Sci. Journal of Photographic Science

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Updated 2003 January 2