Mira AL Feature List

Displaying Images


(click image to view details)

  • Single or multiple images per window (image sets).
  • Open, process, and save images having 8 to 64 bits per pixel, integer or real, plus 24 bit RGB images.
  • Multiple image blinking and animation, ranging from manual blinking to many frames per second, for any format, image size, or bit depth.
  • Image Toolbar, Animation Toolbar, and Image Cursor can be displayed or hidden.
  • Monochrome, pseudo-color, and RGB color.
  • Real time contrast stretching and palette manipulation of one image or an image stack, even during animation.
  • Image Bar control panel with thumbnail magnifier and full-image views; provides coordinate readout and commonly used command buttons; displays current settings.
  • Zoom ratios of 1/16 to 16x, live panning at any magnification, live image cursor sizing and adjustment. You can even adjust these parameters and the image palette during animation!
  • Animation Bar control panel for image sets; controls animation, blinking, speed, frame selection.
  • Overall, Mira's image display and animation performance are unparalleled on the Windows platform.

Image Toolbar - the image command center

(click image to view details)

The Image Toolbar is a control center located locally in each Image Window.  This toolbar has two main functions:

  • Displaying image data, including the "live" pixel value, the pointer position in world coordinates and image coordinates, a thumbnail view of the entire image, and a magnified view of the region centered on the pointer.

  • Access to commonly used commands. are placed near your line if sight so that you don't have to go hunting for pull down menus.

Most toolbar commands are duplicated in menus, so the Image Toolbar is handy but not mandatory. If you do not want to use the image toolbar, it can be hidden for a given window or it can be hidden as the default setting. Both configurations are shown by the image windows above.

Visual Enhancements
(palettes, transfer functions)

  • Interactive adjustment of R, G, and B, as well as total contrast and brightness stretch in real time, even during high speed image animation.
  • Includes grayscale, random, and level-slice palettes as well as a host of other standard pseudo-color options. Adjust these in an infinite variety of ways or create new palettes.
  • Highly versatile transfer function adjustment, with fine control over sampling, range enhancement, and stretch parameters.
  • Linear, Logarithmic, and Gamma Power adjustments, Percentiles, and Absolute limits.
  • Make transfer function adjustments for one or all images in a stack in real time, even during high speed image animation.



  • Plot intensity along an individual column or row.
  • Plot intensity along a range of columns or rows (separately or as a single, average line).
  • Choose mean, median, or sum of adjacent lines.
  • Plot single image or stack of images (image set).
  • Plot data along an angled line between two points.
  • Plot in pixel coordinates (column, row, value) or in celestial coordinates and brightness units for WCS and/or BUNIT calibrated images.
  • Live cursor readout displays in plot coordinates, including celestial coordinates for WCS calibrated images.
  • Full plot configuration, including axes, scaling, positive/negative direction, major and minor ticks, grids,  labels, fonts, colors, background, line thickness, etc.
  • Generate publication quality plots. Plots may be printed or copied and pasted into other applications such as Microsoft Word.
  • Plots can be printed in grayscale, strict black & white, or color.
  • Plot light curves with error bars for any selection of target stars, standards, and check stars.

Image Cursor


As a unique Mira invention, the Image Cursor is a dedicated marker that is available for every Image Window. It is used for measuring statistics, centroid positions, and making column and row plots. the image cursor may take several forms. But its key advantage is that it can be moved and sized, but it is decoupled from the roaming mouse pointer. So it can be precisely positioned and it stays where you place it.

  • Various styles: crosshair, rectangle, or full-image lines. It can be hidden or disabled if you don't want to see it.

  • Adjustable position, width, height, and color.
  • Independent of the mouse pointer and toolbar mode cursors; stays where you place it until you move it again.
  • Live readout of pixel coordinate and world coordinate positions while being moved in Cursor Mode.
  • Can also be positioned precisely using the arrow keys, then stays where you leave it.

Image Headers


FITS format is the required standard for working with astronomical images, especially for doing science. Mira AL provides tools for working with the rich content of the FITS image description, which is usually called the "FITS Header".

  • FITS format header editor provides automatic handling of string and number keywords so you can edit or enter values without understanding the details of FITS format.
  • Mira AL also provides an Image Information editor for non-FITS format images and RGB color images.
  • A separate Author Information command facilitates adding authorship and copyright information to images.

Image Math and Filters

  • Add, Subtract, Divide, and Blend images.
  • Add, Subtract, Multiply, Divide image by a value.
  • Square Root, Byte swap, or Change the Data Type (8, 16, 32 bit, etc.)
  • Sharpen filter, De-speckle filter to reduce noise, and custom 3x3 filter kernel used for special effects.
  • Create bias, dark, and flat field frames using the Combine Images command (see Image Combining, below).

Data Types 

Mira AL supports all pixel data types found in astronomical science images. You can also change the type during math operations, as is often needed to preserve the quality and dynamic range of the data.

  • Native data formats: 8, 16, and 32 bit integer, 32 and 64 bit real, 24 bit color. Mira AL opens, displays, plots, measures, processes, and saves  2-D images having any of these data types.

Image Combining


Image Combining is a tremendously powerful technique that merges separate images into a single image by precisely accounting for the intensity similarities and differences in each. Combining is typically used to increase the limiting magnitude of the field of view, find image similarities and differences, to reduce noise, and to create master bias, dark, and flat field calibration images.

  • Combine pixels of the component images using the Mean, Median, Sum, or Mean with Zero Masking.
  • Automatically normalize the component images by scaling or offsetting (needed to correctly handle image statistics of the combining process).

Image Coordinates & FITS World Coordinate System (WCS) support   

Mira AL supports the FITS World Coordinate System (WCS)  standard. This means that images having a WCS coordinate calibration show positions in units of right ascension and declination, mm, kilometers, or other units. Most images obtained from professional observatories, government facilities, and satellites have a WCS calibration applied.

  • Measure astrometric quality, precision positions, angles, and distances in celestial coordinates on WCS calibrated images.
  • Mira AL preserves the WCS system through geometric transformations (e.g., reverse, transpose, rotate, crop). This means that the coordinates of objects in the new image match those in the old image.
  • Apply alternative calibrations, such as linear arcseconds or distance in km.

Aperture Photometry


Mira AL includes a major subset of the acclaimed aperture photometry package used in our Mira Pro software. This package is both efficient and accurate when measuring a single image or a stack of images, with any number of objects and any number of standard stars.

  • Reports 23 parameters for each measurement, including magnitude, flux, background, S/N ratio, 2 error estimates, date, time, Julian Date, and more.
  • Julian Date can be computed for the beginning, middle, or end of exposure.
  • Mira can track objects marked on one image through a stack of images, auto-compute the photometric zero points, and measure everything with one mouse click.
  • User adjustable aperture sizes for the object, inner, and outer sky radius.
  • Auto-Find command automatically detects and measures any number of objects at a specified threshold above the sky level.
  • Use the Scatter Plot command to graph magnitude and Julian Date or any other pair of quantities from the photometry report.
  • Easily prepare an AAVSO report using the new extended format for single star and ensemble photometry.
  • Plot light curves with error bars for any selection of target stars, standards, and check stars.

Markers & Labels


  • Interactively add markers to images with multi-line text labels.
  • Choose from a selection of marker styles, including crosshairs, circles, and lines.
  • Choose position of marker relative to location and select the font.



  • Measure statistics over a region of interest or the entire image (mean, median, min, max, standard deviation).
  • Measure positions using astrometric quality centroid calculations.
  • Measure distance, position angle, and endpoint coordinates between any two points. Measure between refined centroid positions or the literal points marked on the image.
  • Perform high precision aperture photometry on one or more objects in one or more images using circular apertures (see separate description).
  • All measurements are reported in a table format in a Report Window. All Reports share a common user interface with a number of useful commands.
  •  Report data may be exported to editors like Microsoft Notepad®, Word®, or Excel®
  • Report data may be sorted, column-arranged, copied to the clipboard, or saved to a file.
  • Report data may be graphed as a scatter plot showing any data column against any other column, including optional x- or y-axis error bars.
  • Where pixel coordinates are involved, measurements are listed in both pixel coordinates and world coordinates (example, RA, and Dec)..

RGB Image Support

Although Mira AL is optimized for viewing and measuring images, it provides a number of tools for working with RGB color images.

  • Display, plot, print, process, combine, register, measure, and filter color images.
  • Convert numeric images (8 to 64 bit) to RGB or RGB grayscale images, or convert RGB to numeric images.
  • Merge monochrome images to make RGB and LRGB images.
  • Split RGB channels into monochrome images.
  • Compute world coordinates, region statistics, centroid positions, distance, and angle on RGB images..
  • Open or save using TIFF, JPEG, and BMP formats.

Image Registration & Alignment


Image registration is used to make high-precision alignment between images for the purpose of comparison, combining, or making animations. Precise image registration is essential to many scientific pursuits and nothing does it better then Mira. Mira AL includes the same registration package found in our most expensive software to assure the best possible results. How good is that? Mira users usually achieve alignment having random errors of only 1/10 to 1/30 pixel across the image.

Mira AL provides 3 image registration options:

  • Distortion correction: Register (align) any number of images that differ by any combination of position, rotation, image scale, or may have non-perpendicular axes or even non-square pixels. For example, you can register images that are rotated by 150 degrees, shifted 150 pixels, taken with 2 different cameras on different telescopes, and 1 of the cameras has non-square pixels.

In addition, Mira offers 2 high-precision "1-click" alignment tools for use when the images do not differ in rotation or scale. Use these to align a series of tracked images:

  • Point Source: Single-click alignment on a centroid position using a star or other sharp feature.
  • Extended Object: Single-click alignment on an a planet or a diffuse object.

Image Rotation


Image Rotation is used to align images to a similar orientation or to match charts or other comparisons. Mira AL provides all possible options:

  • Reverse horizontally or vertically, or transpose about the opposite corners of the image.
  • Rotate 90, 180, or 270°.
  • Rotate precise angle about image center or about an exact point. The image may be fixed in size or enlarged to hold the entire rotated data.

All procedures preserve the world coordinate system and the world coordinates of measurement markers and the Image Cursor.

Text Editor

Integrated Mira Text window for logging of results and preparing reports. Text Windows may be created by Mira commands to receive messages from processing functions or may be created by the user.

  • Mixes Mira messages and user content that can be edited by the user.
  • Supports copy/paste between windows or from inside/outside Mira.
  • Window contents may be saved to a file, opened from a text file, or printed.

Screen Capture

  • Helps you record procedures and save records of results. This Mira utility allows you to capture a window or a rectangular region to a clipboard or to the Windows clipboard where it can be pasted into other software.
  • Capture triggers on a selectable hot key.


  • Print images, plots, text, and measurement tables.
  • Get publication quality results on any monochrome or color printer supported by your Windows operating system.
  • Set print scale, size, and location.
  • Print rulers, grid overlay, and text comments.

Supported Image Formats

Mira AL works with a rich assortment of file formats you may encounter with astronomy science data from both internet or local sources. Mira AL offers the following support:

  • FITS, TIFF, JPEG, BMP standard formats.
  • Camera formats: Princeton/Roper SPE format, Photometrics/Roper IMG format, Photometrics Star-1, SBIG STx format, PixCel images, and Spectrasource Lynxx and other camera images.
  • All CCD Camera image formats that save images in FITS or TIFF format.
  • Mira provides a standard programming interface for using plug-ins to open files that have non-standard, unsupported, or user defined formats. File Open Plug-ins specify file filters that appear in the normal File | Open dialog. Plug-ins may be written by Mirametrics, the Mira user, or acquired from other authors.

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