webcam astrophotography? (newbie)

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Unclevodka
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Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 7:55 pm
Location: Oxford
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webcam astrophotography? (newbie)

Post by Unclevodka »

I hope this is the right forum for this question - if not apols.
I am just starting out (powerseeker 127mm newt) and hope I am not asking too stupid a question. Would it be possible to take some astro-photographs through my telescope with a webcam? Looking quickly on the web I see all kinds of wierd and wonderful stuff (adaptors, software to compensate for drift, frame stacking etc.) and am not sure where to start...I noticed that there are electronic eyepieces to project your image onto a TV and computers but it occurred to my that you could do the same thing with a webcam...
Not looking to start out on anything overambitious at this point - even a moon shot would do to get started!
any input greatly appreciated.

Brian
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Location: Wellingborough
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Re: webcam astrophotography? (newbie)

Post by Brian »

Unclevodka wrote:. Would it be possible to take some astro-photographs through my telescope with a webcam? Not looking to start out on anything overambitious at this point - even a moon shot would do to get started!
any input greatly appreciated.
Yes indeed, webcams are a very cost-effective introduction to astro-imaging and the "best" models have been in great demand since the latter part of the '90s. A possible downside though is that use of a webcam requires a PC to be available, connected in order to record the data stream and then to process the images afterwards.

Todays "best" webcams - able to produce excellent images of Solar Sytem objects and brighter double stars - are e.g. the top-of-range (CCD-based) Toucams (840K, SPC900NC) the Logitech QC Pro 4000, 5000 models. This is not an exhaustive list. The Celestron Neximager is a Toucam derivative as well. The SPC900NC is the first webcam which has been designed with the secondary function of an easy modification (easy is a relative term) to a long-exposure camera for DSOs. This is presumably (at least in part) as a result of the pressure put on Philips by users and modifiers of the earlier Vesta and Toucam models :wink:

The standard way of fitting a webcam to your focuser is first to remove the lens (nasty little low-cost plasticky thing) and screw into it's place a webcam adapter. This is a bit like an empty eyepiece barrel which can then be clamped into the focuser exactly as the eyepiece would be. So, no eyepiece, and your main mirror/lens acts exactly like a telephoto lens would, producing an image directly on the CCD chip. Bear in mind that you need to project the image far enough out of the focuser to actually fall onto the chip, which may be an inch further outside your optical tube than is needed when an eyepiece is used. Some cheaper instruments are quite problematic in this respect, but it's a case of try it and see. There are ways around these problems though :)

I would then start by imaging everyday far away objects that don't move, getting used to the new toy, resolving focus problems etc. etc. Then the Moon is the next obvious target. It is bright enough to be imaged with the webcam in "auto" just by letting it pass through the FOV with the camera running. My first webcam images were of the Moon, recorded in daylight on a Feb afternoon. If you instrument has a motor drive to follow celestial objects then so much the better, and this is essential for imaging the planets.

This site has a good record with providing beginners with advice to help them get going with their webcams :lol:

http://www.firmament.tk/

and there are of course many more out there

HTH. Just ask if you need clarification of any points,
Brian
52.3N 0.6W
Wellingborough UK.

254mm LX90 on Superwedge, WO ZS66SD, Helios 102mm f5 on EQ1, Hunter 11x80, Pentax 10x50
ASI120MC Toucam Pros 740k/840k/900nc mono, Pentax K110D
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