Make an AstroCam
What is astrophotography?
is a specialized type of photography that entails making
photographs of astronomical objects in the sky such as the Moon,
Sun, planets, stars, and deep sky objects such as star clusters
Before the development of photography, observations were gathered in the form of sketches made at the telescope. Modern-day electronic innovations, notably charge-coupled devices (CCDs), provide a more efficient light-gathering capability than photographic film as well as enabling information to be transferred to a computer for analysis and modification. However, CCD images are expensive and very small in size compared to photographic plates. CCDs are often used for individual objects, which may be very faint, within a narrow field of sky.
Astrophotography ranges from simple images of bright objects to very complex exposures designed to reveal objects that are too faint to observe with the naked eye. With only a few exceptions, almost all astrophotography employs time exposures since both film and digital cameras can accumulate and sum light photons over long periods of time. This is just one of many distinct aspects of astrophotography that sets it apart from conventional photography.
Astrophotography poses challenges that are distinct from normal photography, because most subjects are usually quite faint, and are often small in angular size. Effective astrophotography requires the use of many of the following techniques:
are of course other ways to take astronomical photographs. One is
simply to use your digital photocamera. Even with a basic model
you can shoot your own impressive images. I use a simple Kodak
EasyShare C330 (see here) mounted with a Universal Camera Adapter
that is available for cameras with or without thread.
What is a astrocam?
The CCD cameras
was more a revolution than an simple evolution in the small world
of amateur astronomy. CCD sensors (Charge Coupled Device) are
very sensitive, and they reduce the time exposition in a dramatic
way. By using long time exposures like only few minutes to see
plenty of very faint luminous objects in deep sky observation.
There are more advantages: one can see immediatly the image on
the computer screen, numerical image processing is very easy and
powerful often improving the image immensly.
You can build/modify your own webcam or you can buy them. There are several astrcams out there, like the StarShoot Solar System Color Imager II which has a four times greater resolution than its most older webcams - 1.3 megapixels to be exact. Or a ATK-16IC CCD-camera which allows changeble exposure times! All these can be used for prime focus photography with your telescope.
Let's go modify the webcam
This webcam/Astrocam is a homemade DIY Telescope Camera (astrocam) that could be built quite cheaply. Transforming a Trust SpaceCam is very simple to realize, and no knowledge in electronics is required. The main step in the Trust SpaceC@m modification consists in removing the integrated optical device.
of the many ways a webcam can be converted to a camera for a telescope. This is kind of an old mod but it shows pretty
well the kind of things you would need to do. There is no limit
on the design on these cameras, everybody pretty much goes their
own way. You can check the web for all kinds of links for designs
and free software, but I have made a special kind of software
just for this purpose called "SpaceSnap".
keep in mind that this modification will erase the company
guarantee (if any is left, because these oldies do not) and is
done at your own risk.
Here is one and my very first photo
took with my modified Trust webcam without ANY filtering, NO
digital processing and NO other filters on the telescope,
painfully as raw as could be, meaning it can not get any worse
then this very first quick as-is shoot! Too much light for sure!
It was mounted on my SkyWatcher SKP13065EQ2
(D130mm/F650mm) pointed at the moon in the middle of my city (and
those darn city lights). Oh yes, at that time my Skywatcher
telescope was not flocked nor did I use a dewcap.
Looks better now doesn't it? You need to experiment with the software, your telescope and with the settings of your webcam to get the best images. Practice makes art.
Much more can be found here:
look at my personal astronomical photographs on this site that I took with this modified webcam and with my Kodak EasyShare C330.
I also would like to recommend my freeware program SpaceSnap which can be used with any webcam/astrocam and has several imaging processing tools.
More about astrophotography here
Astrophotography, info about telescopes,
tips & tricks, homemade scopes and lenses etc.