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.