Astrophotography

Many people have used a webcam to do astrophotography before so I decided to give it a try. These are the steps I took and some mediocre results from night one.

Take a Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000.

Prise open the outer case and then unscrew all the nearly microsocopic screws with a jewlers screwdriver until the base circuit board is separated from the rest of the case.

I then used Araldite (2 part epoxy glue) to glue the cable to the back of the circuit board to hold all the fine cables in place. Once that set I used some Blue-Tak to stick the circuit board onto part of a broken star diagonal.

Make sure the CCD detector is as close to the center as possible. The Blue-Tak allows it to be recentered if need be and holds the circuit board well enough in place.

The stripes across the detector in the above was actually a finger print (gives scale to how small this all is) and destroyed the initial daylight tests. Cleaning it is not easy. I found the best result was one of those microfiber cloths that you use to clean eye glasses. Even that left a few unseen spots that are still visible on the movie capture, so try and keep the CCD as clean as possible.

Once the circuit board is attached it is all screwed to the back of the scope (Celestron Nexstar 5 that has seen better days but still has excellent optics and tracking).

Capture movies with AMCap and process with RegiStax.

Seeing was poor to say the least tonight for my first test and bloody cold with a biting wind, but here is a test moon image stacked with RegiStax.

Here is a movie sample of seeing conditions. First part is the moon moving across the field of view. 25x magnification. Second part a quick test with 2x barlow for 50x magnification.

With more time on a more steady night I will have another attempt. It would be interesting to have a try with Saturn and Jupiter using the barlow.

Jason.

4 responses to “Astrophotography

    • The telescope tube is 11 inches. The tube the camera is attached to is an inch or two long.

      The length doesn’t really matter as long as the camera is within the telescope’s focal range it will work.

  1. I had length of the tube on the webcam on my mind, not the telescope itself. I tried plastic case from film as adapter, but it’ probably too short.

    • OK, well as long as the length of the film canister is something close to your usual eyepiece then you should be able to focus the scope onto the camera. You want the webcam camera detector to be in the same general position as your eyepiece lens. Most scopes allow a lot of focus movement both sides of the sweet spot so even if the film canister doesn’t match the eyepiece length you should be able to focus it.

      Like I said, try first during the daytime so you can focus on a distant building. Once that works you know you will be able to focus on the moon at night. If you leave the focus at a distant horizon in the daylight then you probably won’t have to adjust it much (or not at all) for the moon.

      Good luck.

      I need to give it another go myself to see what I can see from Saturn and Jupiter. They would be the limits for my old 5 inch Celestron NexStar.

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