I have a lot of data taken in R, B, V, Luminance and Halpha-bands which I want to analyse photometrically (one target in the frame).

The frames are already reduced (with flats, darks etc.) and have a correct wcs-header. I also already have the instrumental magnitude of my target and other stars in the frame (using APT).

My question now is, how do I calculate the real magnitude of my targets?

The most simple way would be comparing the other stars' instrumental magnitude and real magnitude and then applying the (logarithmic/linear?) transformation to the instrumental magnitude of my target. But I don't know how exact that would be and how I could calculate the error of the photometric solution (by applying the same transformation to the error of the instrumental magnitude APT gave me?).

For more exact photometry I don't have enough data, aka air mass or calibration fields.

Do you have any ideas or solutions?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Though I'm not expert enough to answer your question without doing some research myself, it's worth explaining what you mean by "real" magnitude. Do you mean bolometric magnitude? Or absolute magnitude? Or some other type of magnitude? $\endgroup$
    – Warrick
    Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 8:37

1 Answer 1


The easiest method of photometry is by comparing the measured instrumental intensity of the unknown target with one or more other known targets in the same field and then converting the difference into magnitudes. This is called differential photometry, and is easier because you don't have to worry about things like atmospheric extinction. The more comparison stars you use, the better your result. There are tools that will automatically do this analysis and calculate your error bars. I use MaximDL.

Visit http://www.aavso.org and use the Variable Star Plotter (VSP) tool to generate a chart for your star of interest. This will give known magnitudes of comparison stars in the same field. You can use those to determine the magnitude of your target. While you're there, check out some of the FAQs and documentation on variable star observing, and submit your results to the online database.


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