Pick out planetary detail with a webcam

For those interested in imaging and image processing with DSLR, CCD, webcam or film.
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rwilkinson
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Pick out planetary detail with a webcam

#1 Post by rwilkinson » Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:32 pm

One of the biggest surprises in astrophotography is the quality of planetary images which can be produced using a humble PC webcam.
Of course you do need a telescope too - and an adaptor to mount the webcam (and perhaps a Barlow lens) at its focus. And given the magnification used, the 'scope needs to track the Earth's rotation reasonably well, so as to keep the planet within its very narrow field of view.
Then it's just a matter of capturing a sequence of hundreds of images (usually as a .AVI file). Subsequent processing of this file using a program such as Registax:
http://www.astronomie.be/registax/index.html
can pick out the frames with the sharpest detail, and then align and "stack" them, so that a surprising amount of latent detail emerges in the final processed image.

Some of the amateur images produced by this technique are better than the best published images from big professional telescopes only 15 years ago - see: http://www.damianpeach.com/

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