I haven’t been out with the telescope in a long while, but have decided to get back into it. The biggest change since I was last out is that I have a more modern laptop, now running Windows 8.1, so I needed to get the NexImage software and drivers re-installed.
My first obstacle was the fact that I have lost my NexImage installation CD-ROM! Thankfully there is a way around it, the details of which can be found here in the Celestron Knowledgebase.
Essentially, you need to download the drivers for the Philips SPC900NC/00 camera application (which the NexImage camera is based on) – the download links are on the Celestron link above, along with clear step-by-step instructions.
Then you can download AMCap (for the actual video capture) and RegiStax (to turn a stack of images into one SUPER image) from here.
So, my software and drivers is set up and ready to go …. now I just need to re-assemble the telescope….
I’ve just ordered a reducer lens for NexImage, which will double my field of vision – meaning I’ll be able to record more of the moon (or whatever my subject is!) in one shot. Ordered from Telescope Planet again, so fingers crossed they’re quick off the mark! Hopefully should get it in the next few days.
If there’s one thing yesterday’s video recording has taught me, it’s the need for polar alignment and a drive motor. Without a drive motor, the object being recorded drifts out of view in the telescope (as you can see above). A drive motor allows the telescope to automatically track stars as they move across the sky and they will therefore appear stationary in the telescope’s view.
I’ve tried doing what I think is called Afocal Coupling (where I just point the camera right up at the lens and shoot). I’ve only tried this in daylight (thanks to the lack of clear skies at night) but the picture was quite fuzzy and affected badly by vignette. (Vignette is when an image is missing its sides – e.g. a square image shown with round edges). I still need to try this at night.
Adapting a webcam – I’ve seen a couple of tutorials on different ways to “adapt” a webcam for astrophotography. One pretty much just involves screwing it into an adapter whereas the other one is a more complex taking-the-webcam-to-bits procedure. I think I do have an old webcam sitting around somewhere so I might look into this one! Minor detail is that I have to use the telescope outside due to the view being obstructed by neighbouring buildings, so I’m not sure how I’m going to power up the webcam without a laptop. This is also a problem for the NexImage CCD Imager.
So it seems that I either need a specialist camera, or a mount of some kind to use my existing camera.