How to Use a Webcam for Astrophotography

Written by sam surgalski
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Astrophotography refers to the ability to take pictures of space-related objects. While this used to be a hobby only for the wealthy, now almost anyone can participate with a good-quality camera or webcam. With a few items handy, you will be able to get your own shots of the moon, planets and nebulae. So get out that telescope, hook up your webcam and get started.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Telescope
  • Webcam
  • Computer
  • Film canister
  • Knife
  • Glue

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  1. 1

    Remove the lens on your webcam. The lenses that come with your webcam are small and cheap, and unsuitable for astrophotography.

  2. 2

    Cut a small hole in the film canister, roughly the size of your webcam's viewing portal. If you would like to use a film canister, instead of a specific adaptor, you will, however, have to glue your webcam to the canister. This is a simple process: simply outline the hole where your lens used to be with super glue, and stick the film canister onto the webcam.

  3. 3

    At night, put in a normal telescope eyepiece and find a planet or star worth taking a picture of. It is much easier to find space objects with a normal eyepiece instead of the webcam itself, so it is highly recommended that you complete this step before plugging in your webcam to the telescope.

  4. 4

    Put the film canister into the telescope's eyepiece holder, and turn on your computer. The film canister is exactly 1.25 inches, which is what a normal-sized eyepiece is. It should slide right in.

  5. 5

    Turn on your computer, and take the photo from your computer. You may now add some digital effects to the shot if it seems noisy.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have a lesser-quality webcam, you can combine low-res pictures to form one high-resolution picture.
  • If you are in an exceptionally cold area, webcam viewing may not be a good idea, as the cold could damage the electronics.

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