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Lecture: Understanding Signal, Noise, and Resolution

Last night, I was honored to present a lecture to the New Jersey Astronomical Association’s imaging meeting. It’s a great group of people, and I’m sorry that I’m only connecting with them now.  Special thanks to Mike Franzyshen and Jim Roselli for the invitation.

In about an hour, I cover broad range of related topics:

  • The statistics of shot noise, including the connections between Simeon-Denis Poisson and the particle theory of light
  • Signal-to-noise ratio, with examples
  • The effects of skyglow, with examples
  • Resolution and sampling
  • Aperture, focal length, and focal ratio

It was a lot of fun to put this lecture together, and during the research for it, I uncovered how Poisson’s life led to multiple insights about photons, none of which he was able to appreciate during his lifetime.

NOTE: At 40:30, I second-guessed myself, but the math on the slide is correct as written. The additional read noise is indeed 32. Since read noise is 10 per exposure, per the previous slide the additional noise is: SQRT(10^2 + 10^2 + 10^2 + 10^2 + 10^2 + 10^2 + 10^2 + 10^2 + 10^2 + 10^2) = 32.

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