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Open AccessArticle

The Colour of the Night Sky

1
Department of Physics, Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) BDPK, 1053 Budapest, Hungary
2
Hungarian Meteorological Service, 1024 Budapest, Hungary
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Imaging 2020, 6(9), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/jimaging6090090
Received: 30 June 2020 / Revised: 16 August 2020 / Accepted: 2 September 2020 / Published: 5 September 2020
The measurement of night sky quality has become an important task in night sky conservation. Modern measurement techniques involve mainly a calibrated digital camera or a spectroradiometer. However, panchromatic devices are still prevalent to this day, even in the absence of determining the spectral information of the night sky. In the case of multispectral measurements, colour information is currently presented in multiple ways. One of the most frequently used metrics is correlated colour temperature (CCT), which is not without its limitation for the purpose of describing especially the colour of natural night sky. Moreover, visually displaying the colour of the night sky in a quantitatively meaningful way has not attracted sufficient attention in the community of astronomy and light pollution research—most photographs of the night sky are post-processed in a way for aesthetic attractiveness rather than accurate representation of the night sky. The spectrum of the natural night sky varies in a wide range depending on solar activity and atmospheric properties. The most noticeable variation in the visible range is the variation of the atomic emission lines, primarily the green oxygen and orange sodium emission. Based on the accepted models of night sky emission, we created a random spectral database which represents the possible range of night sky radiance distribution. We used this spectral database as a learning set, to create a colour transformation between different colour spaces. The spectral sensitivity of some digital cameras is also used to determine an optimal transformation matrix from camera defined coordinates to real colours. The theoretical predictions were extended with actual spectral measurements in order to test the models and check the local constituents of night sky radiance. Here, we present an extended modelling of night sky colour and recommendations of its consistent measurement, as well as methods of visualising the colour of night sky in a consistent way, namely using the false colour enhancement. View Full-Text
Keywords: light pollution; imaging radiometry; colorimetry; night sky colour; colour analysis; false colour enhancement light pollution; imaging radiometry; colorimetry; night sky colour; colour analysis; false colour enhancement
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Kolláth, Z.; Száz, D.; Tong, K.P.; Kolláth, K. The Colour of the Night Sky. J. Imaging 2020, 6, 90.

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