Hubble's Hidden Treasures 2012 Contest

How it works:

To enter the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Contest, simply use the online interface in the Hubble Legacy Archive to adjust the contrast and colours of the image. Once you’re happy with the image, save it and upload it to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Contest Flickr group to enter the competition. There’s no limit to how many times you can enter, but remember that only images which have not yet been published on the gallery can be entered into the competition.

Competition news will be posted on our Facebook and Twitter accounts throughout the contest. You can tweet about the competition using the hashtag #Hubbletreasures.

The competition closes on 31 May 2012 at 23.59 CET.

How it really works:

Once you've found a promising-looking set of observations, check if there’s a link marked “interactive display” next to the preview (almost all the data in the archive do). If it’s there, click on it, and your browser will load up the interface which shows you the full-sized image, and lets you access the image manipulation tools through the advanced contrast controls button.

Note that while most images in the archive are compatible with the interactive display tool, a handful (marked with “MAST preview”) can only be processed using professional software.

Once you’re in the interactive display, the full image will display in high resolution. In the top left corner of the screen are buttons to move about within the image, and zoom in and out. You can also click and drag the image with your mouse.

You can do the most basic image adjustments right here: the lighter, darker and invert buttons are self-explanatory. You can safely ignore the strip of check boxes underneath (the ones labelled DAOphot, 2MASS, GALEX, etc) — these are tools which overlay catalogues from other telescopes over the image, which we don’t want to do.

However, you will almost certainly want more control over the image — so go ahead and click the advanced contrast controls button. Here you’ll get options to make adjustments to the whole image (the controls marked all) and each individual colour channel separately.

The options here are:

  • Lighter/darker: makes the picture lighter without adjusting contrast;
  • Saturation: adjusts the intensity of colours;
  • Sky: adjusts the intensity and darkness of the dark background of the image.

The best way to get a feel for what these options do is simply to play around with them. All the edits you make are reversible, so don’t worry if you make a mistake.

Using these tools carefully on the separate colour channels you can make extensive adjustments to how the image looks.

Once you’re happy with it, save it using the floppy disk icon in the top-right corner and upload it to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Contest Flickr group to enter the competition. Important: when you upload your image, make sure you include the name of the object and the URL that’s at the top of the interactive display window in your image’s description – we will need this so we can find the data ourselves.

Further information:


  • First prize: Apple iPod Touch, Laminated wall print, Autograph of astronaut John Grunsfeld (veteran of three Hubble repair missions), Hubble posters, Eyes on the Skies book and DVD
  • Second prize: Aluminium mounted Hubble print, Eyes on the Skies book and DVD
  • Third prize: Hubble poster, Eyes on the Skies book and DVD
  • Fourth to tenth prizes: Eyes on the Skies DVD, Hubble poster
  • People's choice (by public vote): Aluminium mounted Hubble print


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