Monday 14 June 2010

Thermal @Bristol

There is an exhibition of thermal wildlife images running in the @Bristol café until July 7th. According the the press release ...
This exhibition builds upon a previous thermal imaging collaboration between Paignton Zoo, Plymouth University, the Butterfly and Otter Sanctuary at Buckfastleigh Devon, and two keen excellent local photographers, Ray and Jean Wiltshire, which has been viewed by over 80,000 people across the South West of England so far.
It has been put together by Dr Chris Lavers, Head of Sensors and Telecommunications at Plymouth University (although he's based in Devonport).

I am particularly taken by some fascinating shots showing 'blood' flow in butterfly wings. (It's not actually blood ... it's hemolymph fluid.) If you're in the south-west of England you'll know @Bristol but otherwise, here's the web site.

That reminds me of the nature of colour in butterfly wings. It's not pigment: most of the colours are caused by diffraction patterns due to the minute scales on the wings.

[Later that same day] Web page for the exhibition

Friday 11 June 2010

Most famous infrared photograph

What is the most widely seen infrared photograph? It may be Anton Corbijn's cover for the U2 album The Unforgettable Fire. It may be one of the images released from the Herschel space observatory. It may be Minor White's Cobblestone House.

What do you think? What was the first infrared photograph you remember seeing ... the first one that stuck in your memory. Let me know by comment or by email (link to the right).

Monday 7 June 2010

RPS Infrared Centenary Events

As hinted before, the Royal Photographic Society is celebrating the centenary of infrared imaging with a number of events. Programmes for two of them are now released and, rather than repeat the information, I will link to the RPS Imaging Science Group pages here.

Infrared 100

Two-day symposium jointly with the Royal Astronomical Society.
October 7th and 8th, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London
More information here

Good Picture 2010: Hot Topics in Imaging

Good Picture is an annual event and this year's is mostly (but not exclusively) on aspects of infrared.
December 4th, University of Westminster, Regent Street, London
More information here

Friday 4 June 2010

Remote IR detection of volcanic ash hits headlines

Easyjet have announced that they are trialling a system to detect volcanic ash from their aircraft. Most of the coverage I've seen refers to this as radar but it is an infrared system not centimetric and it is also passive not active.

AVOID (Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier and Detector) has been developed by a Norwegian academic spin-off called Nicarnica led by Anglo-Australian climate scientist Dr Fred Prata. It is presumably a specialised development of their CyClops Infrared Imaging Camera which uses an uncooled bolometer (a type of radiant energy detector invented in 1878) to detect heat radiation in five separate but adjustable wavelengths. The company say that their camera can identify volcanic ash particles and sulphur dioxide gas (a common part of volcanic eruptions) at a distance that is presumably only limited by line-of-sight.

This isn't strictly an imaging system (it does not show recognisable objects) but it does produce an image analogous to radar, showing cloud boundaries mapped against distance. Using spectroscopic analysis CyClops can differentiate between ordinary water/ice clouds and more hazardous types. AVOID will presumably offer similar facilities to allow pilots to navigate around hazardous clouds even if they are invisible to the naked eye.

Dr Prata (together with Ian Barton) produced what looks like their first patent in the field (Detection system for use in an aircraft United States Patent 5602543) in 1991 where the abstract says that the "system is able to detect the presence of volcanic ash cloud ahead of the aircraft". So this is something of which Dr Prata and his team have long experience. Incidentally, the associated advance detection of clear air turbulence from aircraft using infrared goes back even further, to at least the 1960s.

To go back even further, we find bolometers used on ships back towards the start of the 20th Century to try to detect icebergs; at a time when the Titanic was a recent memory.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

BBC Sky at Night on Herschel images

Next Sunday's edition (June 6) of the Sky at Night is an infrared special, looking at images of star formation from the Herschel space observatory. The BBC web site describes it thus:
The many star-forming areas of our galaxy are obscured by interstellar dust, but Herschel, a new space telescope, can see these areas in infrared light. Sir Patrick Moore is joined by Professor Derek Ward-Thompson and Dr Chris North to examine the latest stunning images from Herschel.
I phoned Patrick last week to appraise him of the centenary - he knew of Prof Wood of course - and I hope he will be able to mention Infrared 100 on the programme. Whatever happens it will be worth a view. Transmission is on BBC One on the 6th and on BBC Four on the 8th and 9th ... and it'll be on the iPlayer.