K3's AstroPhotography
"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have set in place, what is Man that You are mindful of him?" -- Psalm 8:3,4

In the age of CCD chips astrophotography is much easier now than it was before. The main advantage of CCD chips opposite to conventional emulsion based photography is high sensitivity. The result of it is that deep-sky images can be obtained in a few minutes. Furthermore the images can be processed by computer.

The disadvantage of astronomy CCD cameras is their high price. But if you are planetary observer, you can use much more cheaper web cameras, which sensitivity is sufficient for such bright objects like planets, Sun and Moon.
!September 2001! The above sentence is not valid, now. Steve Chambers invented modification of Philips (and other similar) webcam for LONG EXPOSURE. So deep-sky photography is available not only for rich amateur astronomers, now.

When prices of astronomy CCD cameras are above your budget, you have several other possibilities:

  1. Using webcams
  2. Using surveillance video cameras
  3. Using digital cameras
  4. Using commercial video cameras (VHS, Video8, Hi8, Digital8, miniDV...)

Mostly I use my modified webcam (because it offers very comfortable use) and digital camera (higher image quality). Most of my photos in this website were taken by my webcam.

Example of using Philips Vesta Pro
web camera
for astronomy purposes
Example of using digital camera
for astronomy purposes

Philips Vesta Pro (PCVC680K)

CCD chip: SONY ICX098AK (Type 1/4")
Image size: Diagonal 4.5mm, 3,87mm x 2,82mm
Effective pixels: 659(H) x 494(V) ~330K pixels
Total number of pixels: 692(H) x 504(V) ~350K pixels
Unit cell (pixel) size: 5.6µm(H) x 5.6µm(V)
Chip size: 4.60mm(H) x 3.97mm(V)

Integrated lens: Focal length 4.8 mm, F3.0
Sensitivity: <1 lux
See Picture quality tests, Long exposure modification

Nikon Coolpix 995

CCD chip: SONY ICX252AK (Type 1/1.8")
Image size: Diagonal 8.93mm, 7.2mm x 5,35mm
Effective pixels: 2088(H) x 1550(V) ~3.24M pixels
Total number of pixels: 2140(H) x 1560(V) ~3.34M pixels
Unit cell (pixel) size: 3.45µm(H) x 3.45µm(V)
Chip size: 13.8mm(H) x 12.0mm(V)

Integrated lens: f=8.2mm-31mm / F2.6-F5.1
Sensitivity: ISO100 - ISO800
Color filter: Complementary CYGM

See Using Nikon Coolpix 995 for astronomy

Various (mostly homemade) equipment useful for astrophotography

Homemade webcam adapter New!
SC Long exposure modification
Using webcam in my balcony observatory (Remote Control) New!
Cooled SC2 Long exposure modification
Steven's Mogg adapter and
0.6x focal length reducer
Adapter for using standard camera objectives
Homemade electronic focuser Homemade computer control interface
for equatorial mount
Homemade sun filter made
from Baader AstroSolar™ foil
Serial Port to Parallel Port adapter for SC modified cameras

Under Cover or Useful Hints and Tips, Tests

Philips Vesta Pro picture quality tests Still Digital Camera versus Webcam
Fighting against hot pixels
Tested on my "personal sky"
Barlow Lens and Focal Reducer calculations
Measuring of Position Angle (P.A.) Equatorial Mount Tracking Errors
2 Webcams connected to a single computer Resolution tests of Video8, Hi8, Digital8
camcorders and and Vesta Pro webcam
Barlow lens & Focal reducer
(useful calculations)
Prime Focus Astrophotography
(useful calculations)
Infra Red Blocking Filter Tests   Hydrogen Alpha Filter Test
Vesta Pro versus ToUCam Pro tests ToUCam Pro versus Meade LPI tests
ToUCam Pro exposure tests Getting precise timing information about captured video frames
Lumenera tests Comparison Table for SONY CCD Chips

Computer generated images, real images, drawings and texts are property of the author and may not be reproduced or used without permission of author.


Last Update: 10.06.2006