Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina, USA
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First Light with New Astro-Video Camera

Bringing Space Exploration & the Night Sky Down to Earth

First Light with New Astro-Video Camera

I recently purchased a color video-astronomy camera from Astro Video Systems (AVS), the Advanced Cam MKIII.  First light for the camera happened to coincide with the Morehead Planetarium’s SkyWatching session for May.  If I could get it working, it would be a great way to show off views of deep space objects to the visitors.

I connected the camera to my CPC 1100 and used AVS’s VarioReducer to run the whole system at f/2.3 rather than the native f/10.  Using a frame-grabber to connect the analog signal out of the camera to a USB port on my laptop, I was able to display live video on the laptop.  I was able to provide views of Jupiter, M65 in Leo (couldn’t fit the M66 or NGC 3268), M51 the Whirlpool Galaxy, M104 the Sombrero Galaxy and Saturn.

Viewing from the laptop was a great hit.  Even though providing a live view to a screen (laptop) eliminates folks queuing up for a peek in the eyepiece, there was still a crowd of folks trying to get a view of the laptop screen.

I managed to change a setting the camera about 30 minutes into the session which resulted in the hand controller not working.  After an email to the designer and maker at AVS, he educated me on the fix and the where that information can also be found in the manual.  With the hand controller for the camera not working, changing the setting on the camera became quite difficult so I basically left the settings as is.  Needless to say I did not get a chance to play with the different setting to allow for better views.

I recorded some of my captures.  Again this is the first time with the camera and I’m not even close to leveraging all that the camera can do.  Hopefully future postings will show much improved views. I later figured out I was using too much focal reduction thus causing the stars to loo like cones towards the edge of the field of view.  However the time being, here is the capture for M51 the Whirlpool Galaxy and M104 the Sombrero Galaxy: