Kevin Watson used a "Hubble" bi-colour palette (R=50/50, G=Ha, B=OIII) to produce this image of the Helix Nebula with the RASC Robotic Telescope data. (Kevin Watson/RASC Robotic Telescope)

RASC Robotic Telescope Contest: September 2020

Want to put your image editing skills to the test? Do so this September in the RASC Robotic Telescope image editing contest.

In collaboration with SkyNews, each month the RASC Robotic Telescope team will release the data for an image for the public to edit. Judges from the team will pick a winner out of those submitted.

This month, the RASC RTScope editing contest target is the Helix Nebula, or NGC 7293.

Located about 650 light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius, NASA writes that the nebula is a typical example of a class of objects called planetary nebulae. Planetary nebulae develop from the remains of stars that once looked like our Sun — shedding gaseous layers, they leave behind a tiny, hot, dense white dwarf core that lights up the surrounding gases.

How to enter

To be eligible, submissions must be received by September 30, 2020. One entry per person. The RASC Robotic Telescope team will choose the best submission and publish the winning image. There are no entry fees.

To enter, send your image by e-mail to Be sure to include your name, contact information, and the processing details.

This contest is open to residents of Canada only.

The files

You’ve read the rules and you’re all set to go. This month, there are three options in terms of file sets. Here are the details:

  • Level 1 – Master Dark, and Master Flats (Ha E/W, OIII E/W) so entrants can calibrate the lights themselves
    • Note: there is no master bias needed as that has already been used to calibrate the flats
  • Level 2 – Calibrated lights (individual Ha & OIII files) that entrants can align and combine themselves
  • Level 3 – Calibrated/Combined Master Ha & OIII that entrants can post-process themselves

Other details to note about the files:

  • 10 hours each in Ha & OIII for 20 hours total integration
  • File formats are 32-bit .fit and 16-bit .tif, to accommodate entrant preferences
  • Basic-stretched, full-size .jpg previews are included to show the data that is available

The prize

The winner of the September competition will get one-year access to all the RASC Robotic Telescope data, once the program becomes available.

They will also receive a super-awesome RASC fanny pack.