Making a print of a photo of Jupiter
February 5, 2016 8:39 AM   Subscribe

I love this map of Jupiter as seen from its south pole. Would it make sense to turn this into a print suitable for framing and hanging? And if so, what's the best way to go about doing so?

The largest version of this image I've been able to find online is this one (2,266 x 2,231 pixels). Is that large enough to turn into a print? And is the image of sufficient quality that I'll be happy with what turns out, or do I risk a muddy, not very vivid print?

If you think it would work, though, what size print should I be aiming for? And where can I get one made? (I'm in NYC, though online options ought to work, too.)

(And in case there were any concerns, this image was created by NASA, so as a federal government work, it is not copyrighted.)
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
There's so much that goes into preparing an image for printing that it's hard to say what you're going to like. My general rule of thumb is that if something's going to be viewed at book distance, then I want the picture to be at least 300 pixels per inch, but behind a couch 150 pixels per inch is fine (and may be even lower). But plenty of relatively famous 35mm nature photographers have done huge prints of pictures that I think didn't stand the blowing up terribly well.

So by my aesthetic, I think you'd want to go about 15x14 max on that print. However, not only are those not the sharpest pixels near the pole, but there's that big round circle where they didn't have more data (because this picture is put together from a bunch of photos taken closer to the equator and reprojected).

CVS wants $18 for a 16x20 poster print. FedEx office has similar prices. Chances are they're all using roughly the same inkjet technologies for those prints. I'd take that picture, add a side bar with a grey scale and maybe some color swatches at different intensities, and get a print. If what they give you looks awesome, cut off your calibration side bar, mat that sucker, and throw it on the wall. If what they did you looks sucky and you think you can do better with color adjustment, the grey scale and color swatches will give you an idea of how to fix that (gamma if the grey isn't evenly distributed, etc).
posted by straw at 8:59 AM on February 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

The largest version of this image I've been able to find online is this one (2,266 x 2,231 pixels).

That's the biggest you're going to get- that's the mosaic map from PIA07784, stitched together and reprojected by CICLOPS, using 36 separate images taken with Cassini's ISS narrow angle camera.
posted by zamboni at 9:04 AM on February 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

You could also blur the edge of that grey disc right in the centre so that it’s a bit less noticeable.

I think you could take that print to 16"x20" and be pretty happy with it hung on the wall. Would it be pin-sharp & perfect in every way? No, but it would still be an amazing picture.
posted by pharm at 9:05 AM on February 5, 2016

You might get a slightly better quality print using the TIFF file from Zamboni’s link rather than the compressed jpeg.
posted by pharm at 9:08 AM on February 5, 2016

I would go with a canvas print. A couple years ago, I made one for my wife's birthday of Frits Thaulow's The Water Mill (original in the Philadelphia Museum of Art). I was able to get a 1500x1000 version of the image from the museum's Web site, which was the largest I could find online. Our canvas print is actually a fair bit larger than the original painting and it looks magnificent. If you get close you can see the artist's signature is a little blurry but from a normal viewing distance it's a knockout. I would imagine that the Jupiter photo is going to have similar characteristics to a painting and would look just as great. If you know a little about Photoshop, you should be able to blow that up yourself and add some sharpening, rather than leaving that to whatever printing company you use, which could give better results.
posted by kindall at 10:23 AM on February 5, 2016

I tweaked the color/contrast/etc of the image, removed the jpeg artifacts, etc. I wouldn't go over about 16x16". If you have access to a big office printer, print the photo at 11x17 (tabloid), and see how it looks.

I really like Adorama's Metal Prints for astronomical objects; it gives them a neat glow. Plus, the metal prints look great on the wall, they're durable, and you can just wipe them down when they get dusty.
posted by gregr at 10:42 AM on February 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

you should take the TIF to the printers (from the PIA07784 link). they should be able to print it and it won't have any artefacts to "remove".
posted by andrewcooke at 11:05 AM on February 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

If the idea hadn't occurred to you but you would like a 3D print instead of / as well as a 2D print, the Jupiter model from the larger of these solar systems is available on its own, as a 9cm (3.5 inch) diameter model.
posted by anonymisc at 12:12 PM on February 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

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