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Old December 23rd, 2005, 09:03 PM   #1
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Shooting the Stars

Anyone with experience shooting the cosmos at night? How to connect telescope with video camera?
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 10:23 PM   #2
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I have a friend that's a big nut for video astronomy. His setup is a surveillance camera hooked up to his telescope with the video fed into a MiniDV camera or directly to a computer. Then he has some software that keeps everything on track as the earth rotates.

By the way, the holy grail of amateur video astronomy is a manual, progressive, and extremely low lux camera, nixing pretty much every camcorder I can think of. That's why he uses the surveillance camera. Apparently the average interlaced cam gives less than stellar images, pun intended.

Anyway that's what I remember, it's not my hobby, and it's been awhile since I spoke with my friend, so I'm just responding from memory, but it's still interesting stuff.
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Old December 24th, 2005, 11:05 AM   #3
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On the most basic level, you can attach a C-mount adapter to a surveillance camera, which allows the camera to be mounted in place of the telescope eyepiece. Run the camera's output to a monitor, VTR, whatever. I did that a few years ago for an occultation of Regulus by the Moon.

But video astronomy goes a whole lot farther than that. One interesting use is to take video of bright objects such as planets, then go through the video looking for moments of exceptional atmospheric steadiness (what astronomers call "seeing") to get very high-resolution still images.

The Adirondack Video Astronomy web site will give you an idea what's available and what folks use it for: .

Have fun,
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Old December 25th, 2005, 05:52 PM   #4
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For low cost imaging you want particular webcams like certain models of the Philips ToUCam (hard to find in the US) with an adapter or the Celestron NexImage (which comes as a complete kit). Search astronomy webcams on the web and you will find all the info you need.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 04:20 AM   #5
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Be aware that most video cameras produce still images that are far inferior to those from digital still cameras. Given that the final output is to be a video, unless real-time motion in the image is important, I'd go with a still camera and then drop the resulting images into your NLE and perhaps apply the "Ken Burns" effect for visual interest.
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Old December 31st, 2005, 04:03 AM   #6
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If you want to capture video of the moon and or planets with just a camcorder, you'll need an equatorial mount instead of a regular tripod, otherwise the subjects will start to jog out to one side of the frame due to Earth's rotation (15 degrees per hour).

I'm not sure how good the picture is in your viewfinder but I've been told that the most accurate images are hand guided, which means you peering at whatever you focused on and using levers to keep it in the same place with respect to right ascension and declination. With a normal camcorder lens though you should be able to get away with a motorized drive since the shot wont be ridiculously magnified (i.e. telescope). These can be left unattended for the most part. There are also adapters that will allow a camcorder to be mounted on an equatorial mount. Check someplace like if you need more info on parts, types of mounts, etc.

Probably one of the easiest and most effective ways of showing the night sky without going nuts learning new techniques is to set your camera (if you have time lapse capabilities) at any random spot on a moonless night in a dark location, let it run for a couple of hours and then play it at normal speed. All you need is a normal tripod, a powerful battery and tunes in your ipod.

Happy shooting!

Chris W.
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