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Digital Cameras

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Posted by Daniel Johnson on June 1, 2003 12:43:52 UTC

The bad news: yes, you would need a laptop. The good news: you can in fact achieve similar results with a digital camera--I've done both. You'll need a special adapter to couple your digital camera to an eyepiece. Visit scopetronix.com , which both sells the adapters and has an informative article about using digital cameras.
A few thoughts: Jupiter is about 50 arcseconds across. A typical amateur scope of 8 inches or larger can resolve details about 0.5 arsceconds. So, choose a zoom level that puts Jupiter at least 100 pixels wide, and preferably 150 to 200. You'll find a tradeoff between zoom and exposure time, i.e. more zoom requires longer exposures. Shorter exposures freeze the atmospheric fuzz better.
If you can rig your camera to take multiple pictures successively, do so, i.e. snap off 10 or 20 in a row. If you can keep the picture resolution down to VGA or XGA resolution, you may still be able to use Registax, one of the programs mentioned in the webcam article, to combine the exposures. You'll need to get several in a very short time without rotating the camera at all relative to the scope (which can be done if it is coupled to the eyepiece--see scopetronix.com).
A webcam can record pictures far faster and average hundreds of them, but a digital camera gives better quality for each individual frame. So far my success with the two has been about the same, i.e. averaging 12 fairly good photos comes out about the same as averaging 150 mediocre ones.
Finally, you can get a few not-too-terrible shots just by holding your digital camera to the eyepiece and taking a single photo.

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