Quite a few readers were intrigued by our recent iPhone astrophotography efforts. They asked some very good questions about how to take photos of our other celestial neighbors, photos like the ones on the outside of telescope boxes.
Well, we have some good news, and some realistic news. The good news is it is now much easier to take really good photos of lunar, solar, and nearby planetary objects. The realistic news is, while the tools are relatively affordable, the process is still far from “point-n-click.”
But, with the current worldwide “stay-at-home” break, the is the perfect time to take a deeper dive into the challenging-yet-addictive hobby of planetary astrophotography.
Taking images of the Moon is not hard because it is:
- bright, and
- easy to find in the night sky.
Trying to get a photo of anything else, though, is a whole different challenge. The reasons are many—camera/mount vibrations, atmospheric disturbances, Earth’s rotation, et cetera—but the most significant is proper focus. Without a sharp focus, everything else is irrelevant.
The best setup to achieve the needed focus is a telescope/camera combo tethered to a computer, with adjustments made using astrophotography-specific imaging software.
We think the Celestron NexImage 10 is an ideal camera for such a setup.
- 12 bit 10.7 MP Color camera : live video for quick focusing
- 3856 x 2764 CMOS sensor : 1.67-micron square pixels array
- 1.25″ barrel and C-thread mounts
- USB 3.0, 10′ cable
- iCap capture and RegiStax stacking applications (on CD)
Included with the NexImage camera is everything you need to get started, including Celestron’s easy-to-use software suite of iCap capture and RegiStax stacking software, the same powerful programs included with Celestron’s high-end Skyris cameras.
The housing of the NexImage10 is ABS with an aluminum connection ring, so entire unit weighs just 2 oz (47g). The C mount on the camera mates with the included 1.25″ nose piece that connects to the telescope.
The CMOS sensor has super small 1.67µm pixels. This means that even with smaller telescopes, it is still possible to capture tremendous planetary details with this camera. So it is not a stretch to say that the NexImage10 may be one of the best values in planetary imaging cameras on the market today.
This is important, since the faster the data can be off-loaded from the camera’s 10MP ON Semi MT9J003 Color CMOS sensor, the clearer and more detailed the “assembled” the planetary images will be. (More on the exact process on how to do all that in a future article.)
We are pretty excited to add the NexImage10 to our astrophotography toolbox, and are looking forward to seeing some of the FirstLight results from the camera.
In the next article in this series, we’ll show how to setup the NexImage10 camera for RDM’s FirstUse with our 6″ OTA. Look for it by the end of Spring.
Amazon links to items mentioned: