Homemade Astronomical CCD Cameras

Written by joel douglas
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Homemade Astronomical CCD Cameras
You can modify a CCD-based webcam to photograph the moon and planets. (webcam image by RéGIs Verger from Fotolia.com)

Charged coupled device (CCD) cameras excel at capturing images of the moon and planets. You can modify a CCD-based webcam and attach it to a telescope to photograph the Earth's natural satellite and planetary neighbours.

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Function

You can modify CCD-based webcams---including the Philips ToUcam Pro 740K, Creative EX Pro and D-Link NetQam---to connect to the focuser of a reflector or refractor telescope. Modifying the webcam involves removing the lens to expose the CCD chip and attaching a plastic tube that is 1.25 inches in diameter.

Use

A modified CCD webcam fits into the 1.25-inch focuser used on most telescopes. You must use the webcam with video capture software running on a computer to record the images produced by the telescope. You can then inspect the individual frames from the recordings and select the best frames to use as still images.

Considerations

Not all webcams use CCD chips. Less expensive models tend to use complimentary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) chips, which are unsuitable for astrophotography. Make sure you purchase a webcam that uses a CCD chip if you want to use the camera for capturing images of the moon and planets.

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