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Participate in the 2021 Summer NASA's Astrophoto Challenges

Dean Frias, Arizona State University
Image of the NASA Astrophoto Challenges logo


The challenges are open from July 1, 2021 through August 16, 2021.

Join NASA's Universe of Learning for an exciting opportunity to use real astronomical data and tools to create your own images of the iconic active galaxy M87. Use your images to explore the impact of M87’s supermassive black hole, or just create an image that you think is beautiful.  You can capture your own real-time telescope image of M87 using the MicroObservatory robotic telescope network.  You can also work with an archived set of data files of M87, taken with 3 multi-wavelength NASA space telescope missions (Hubble, Chandra, and Spitzer) and one ground-based radio image from the NRAO’s Very Large Array.

Experts working with 2021 Astrophotos challenge

The NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges provide learners of all familiarity levels authentic experiences using real astrophysics data, including those from NASA space-based missions.  Participants engage in the scientific practices of a scientist through accessible data tools and experiences while they create and share their composite images.  

The NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges include instructions on how to turn the data into beautiful composite images with a simple and free web-based image processing tool used by professional astronomers.  The JS9 image processing tool is widely used by the astronomical community to process and analyze the data from the world’s premiere research telescopes.  NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges uses a version of this tool, JS9-4L, developed for learners.

The challenges also feature short videos by professional astronomers.  These subject matter experts provide science content knowledge of the electromagnetic spectrum and M87.  Submit your creations to the challenges and they may be highlighted as standout entries commented on by scientists.

Join the NASA's Astrophoto Challenges, here:

You can also learn more about other opportunities to discover the universe for yourselves at NASA's Universe of Learning:


space guess quest game board showing space objects

Connections to Explore Science: Earth & Space activities

These activities from past toolkits can help build connections to astrophysics concepts for learners interested in the astrophoto challenges.