The team has always been passionate about space. Team member Geoff has recently had a go at astrophotography using a webcam with a 4.5” F/9 reflector telescope. Below are some of the best images captured to date.
To capture these, the webcam (here a purpose made NexImage 5) is placed directly into the telescope’s eyepiece assembly. This lets the mirrors project straight onto the CCD or CMOS sensor and essentially lets the telescope become the lens for the camera.
Friday 13 Full Moon
As the magnification provided by the webcam is too great to have a full view of the moon, the picture of the recent Friday 13 full moon was made by creating a mosaic from screenshots of the object passing by (without a motorised mount to track the object in the sky, the Earth’s rotation is surprisingly fast). The mosaic was assembled in MS Paint then contrast differences between the various shots were rendered less noticeable using Photoshop. Some example raw footage of the moon moving across the screen in real time is shown in the gif below.
The shot of Saturn was made through a process called stacking. Stacking simply involves taking a video of the object for as long as possible then getting the computer to pick a percentage of the best frames and placing them on top of one another to bring out detail and remove distortions caused by the Earth’s atmosphere.
Again without a motorised mount to track the planet as the Earth rotates this becomes slightly trickier and results in lower quality images. Hitting “record video” just as it came into frame and “stop” just as it got to the edge, 1500 frames were captured. The resulting picture consists of ~1100 frames stacked on top of one another and de-noised.