Tag : astronomy

Imaging and Image Processing with a High Frame Rate Camera

Imaging and Image Processing with a High Frame Rate CameraMick and I talked at the Cambridge Astronomical Association about Webcam Imaging or really nowadays High Frame Rate Camera Imaging on Wednesday 21st June 2017.

The talk covers a brief history of webcams and high frame rate cameras, it then covers setting up your camera and using camera filters as well as looking at Field of View (FOV).

We look at using camera software for capturing the images, including  Sharpcap and Fire Capture. We also looked at Registax 6 and Autostakkert for processing and the usual Photoshop and Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE) for making lunar mosaics.

Included in the PDF are some of Mick’s best solar, lunar and planetary images.

Dowlonad the PDF version of the talk here – Imaging and Image Processing with a High Frame Rate Camera

Astrofest 2014 Discounts

Will we see a wide range of discounts at Astrofest in 2014? I do hope so, as there was very little discounting at Astrofest 2013.

Keep your eyes out this weekend for retailers who also offer astronomy discounts online as well as at the show, if you cannot make it.

So far I have found:

Cambridge University Press – discounts released Friday 7th February here: https://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/conferences/astrofest-2014/

Telescope House – 10% off all in stock items (except Skywatcher telescopes and mounts nor megadeals) online or at the show.

First Light Optics – discounts on Skywatcher and Helios products for Stargazers Lounge users only with 50+ posts.

If you find more please tell me.

By Daniel Coe

Stargazing Basics Book Review

Stargazing Basics BookStargazing Basics is a book for the beginner, it mainly covers what to look for when purchasing basic astronomy equipment including binoculars or your first telescope.

Stargazing Basics is divided into two main sections, the first describes the different types of telescopes you can buy and what to look for when purchasing binoculars. Every type of telescope is described, with a focus on those coming under a certain price bracket, in reality all those telescopes that you may choose when first making a purchase. But the first section is not just about telescopes, the book also briefly covers astronomy accessories which you may purchase at a later date.

Part two of the book entitled “What’s up There?” gives you an overview of the types of objects you may well see when using a beginner’s telescope. This is done using images and giving descriptions about the Moon, Sun, Planets, Nebulae, Galaxies, Stars etc.

There is a very large glossary at the rear of the book which takes up around 25 pages; this is a lot when the whole book is only 140 pages in total. But it can be very useful to have a glossary when you are starting out on as new topic and a lot of unknown words are used in the body of the book.

After the glossary there are some simple start charts you can use, as well as a list of the constellation names with descriptions.

Overall this is a very nice book for the beginner who wants to get into astronomy, it will certainly provide you with a lot of knowledge before you visit your local astronomy store and make a purchase of either binoculars or a telescope. Reading this book certainly would have helped me at the time.

It’s also nice to see that the author has not included images which represent objects what you won’t see through your first telescope. He has instead used his own images which mean you won’t be disheartened when you use your telescope for the first time and you don’t see in the eyepiece astronomy images like those produced by the big NASA telescopes.

Stargazing Basics is available at Waterstones

Microsoft World Wide Telescope Talk

Last night I attended a talk at the Institute of Astronomy by a Microsoft employee named Jonathan Fay about the World Wide Telescope program.

It was great talk, and good to see a live demo on a piece of software from Microsoft which is free to download and use on Mac/PC and soon Linux or you can use the web client version.

The World Wide Telescope is an initiative from Microsoft that allows anyone to browse the Universe from the comfort of their own laptop. Combining up-to-date images from space- and ground-based telescopes with features such as expert guided tours, it is a project that can both inspire and educate anyone from the complete novice to the informed amateur.

The program is very similar to Starry Night Pro or Stellarium, but it includes lots of different images including Hubble Telescope images and X-ray images. The amount of features in the program is amazing.

There are some major features of the World Wide Telescope, such as being able to view images in 3D by wearing standard 3D glasses. We were treated to views of Jupiter and it’s moons in 3D as well as viewing valleys on Mars in 3D.

You can also control your computerised telescope via the program, via the ASCOM platform (not available in the web client version). The program can also show you what your imager (e.g. Celestron or Meade) will also see in the sky.

There are also some amazing panorama images such as the Apollo landings, and the program allows you to zoom-in on say the astronauts footprints.

The interface is really easy to use, you can also zoom in and view the Earth.  You can also view the sky from different angles and actually leave our galaxy and look back at it.

The only downside to the program, is that you need a fairly new PC to install the client application, it says you need at least a 2Ghz Dual Core CPU. I don’t think a lot of people keep this kind of powerful PC in their observatories, but most people should have this power in their home PC.

If you don’t have this type of PC, then you can use the web client version which runs through a browser, you will have to install Silverlight first though. The disadvantage of using the program through a browser is that the program runs a little slower and that some features get omitted from this version, such as viewing in 3D and the Telescope control via ASCOM.

But do give it a go, it may become your main astronomy program.