get SDSS colors and magnitudes for very bright stars

The SDSS saturates around 14th magnitude. However, (a) the gains are set such that the CCD pixels saturate before the analog-to-digial read-out saturates, and (b) the bleeding of charge on the CCD is essentially charge-conserving. Also, when very bright stars cross the readout register in the CCD, they leave a thin 2048-pixel line across the full camera column. And also also, the stars have well-defined diffraction spikes that are visible to large angular radii.

No-one says this is easy; this is a blog of good ideas not easy ideas: For one, the detector may become weakly nonlinear shortly before CCD pixel saturation; that is, the effective gain may be lower at brighter magnitudes; any project would have to look carefully into this, and you don't have variable exposure times to use (all of SDSS was taken at 55-second exposure time for very important reasons). For another, the shape and size of the diffraction spikes might be a strong function of position in the focal plane. However, I have hope, because the charge bleeds are so very very beautiful when inspected in detail.

Some prior work on this has been done by myself and Doug Finkbeiner (Harvard). It would be worth checking in with Fink before embarking.


  1. John Gizis (Delaware) points me to this very valuable and relevant project: http://www.aavso.org/apass/

  2. Also, here is a piece of advice on APASS I lerned from Eric Mamajek (Rochester) posted on the Facebook Low-Mass Stars and Brown Dwarfs page. APASS photometry is incorporated into UCAC4, which is available on vizier. This is a better interface.