Level of Expertise
OPT's knowledgeable staff is always here to help you find the perfect telescope camera for your needs. The decision can include not only the style of telescope camera, but the manufacturer, connection interface, accessory and software compatibility, price and much more. Astronomy cameras are used for astrophotography, the practice of photographing astronomy phenomena such as nebula, galaxies, planets, or the moon. This is one of the fastest growing areas of astronomy, because it lets you capture the beautiful things you're seeing each night through your telescope on film and immortalize those fleeting moments, both for your own future repeat enjoyment and to share your passions with your friends and family. There is no better way to share the night sky with others than taking images of what you can see through your telescope using a suitable camera.
There are a large number of astronomy cameras that are best suited for planetary and solar work. These cameras excel at capturing detailed images of targets like the red spot on Jupiter or the Rings of Saturn when used with the correct telescopes and accessories. Many of these cameras are also well suited to use with Solar Filters, and can capture high quality images of the Sun when used appropriately. Planetary imaging is a great place to start for those interested in moving from observation to imaging, and these Cameras are sure to help.
Some cameras are exceptionally well suited for capturing images from the deepest and darkest reaches of space. These cameras are great for capturing nebulae and galaxies in the immortality of photography, letting you capture some of the most breathtaking sights in the night sky to enjoy forever. These cameras are characterized by extremely long exposure times and the powerful cooling systems needed to take advantage of those exposure times, letting you spend as long as you need to capture the perfect image of your chosen target.
There are specialized cameras for guiding that can help your overall astronomy accuracy and act as support when you are imaging with another camera. You can look at these as support units for your main camera, additions to your setup that help everything else run smoothly. They help guide your mount, which helps your camera and telescope track your target.
Some cameras are heavily specialized, and perform extremely specific functions. This can range from astronomy video cameras to polar alignment tools to things like 'All-Sky' cameras which show an extremely wide field of view. These cameras are great for getting the job done when you need something out of the ordinary, and are some of the more interesting and unique cameras we stock.
CCD cameras are capable of the most outstanding possible astrophotography image quality. Unlike traditional cameras, the CCD camera uses a small, rectangular chip of silicon called a Charge-Coupled Device to gather and record incoming light instead of film. The silicon chip is a solid-state electronic component comprised of light-sensitive cells called photo-sites. Each photo-site is its own pixel. Just one tiny area in a photograph can contain hundreds of thousands of pixels. When incoming light strikes the photo-site, the photoelectric effect creates and builds an electron charge for as long as exposure occurs. The electrons are then "stored" in their individual cells until the analog-to-digital converter unloads the array, counts the electrons, and reassembles them into the "big picture" that is sent to your computer. These traits make them incredible for high resolution imaging and photography, but also mean that you will need to use a computer to process your images. Specialized software is available for processing your CCD images, and can be provided alongside your camera purchase if you are interested.
CMOS is the alternative to CCD when it comes to astrophotography. CMOS cameras tend to be less expensive than CCD cameras, and have lately experienced a dramatic surge in technological advancement that has put many of the finer models on even footing with their CCD cousins. CMOS cameras are very similar to CCD cameras, but have certain fundamental differences in design architecture that drastically effect them and establish firm and predictable differences between the two kinds of camera. CMOS image sensors can incorporate other circuits on the same chip, eliminating the many separate chips required for a CCD. This also allows additional on-chip features to be added at little extra cost, and again increasing the efficiency of manufacture.
If you'd like to have even more fun with your telescope, consider an astronomy video camera. These awesome tools can broadcast real time images of deep space objects to a monitor and function as cameras. You could teach a class while watching globular cluster resolve on screen, or share the views of Saturn during an outreach program. Perhaps you might like to make a film of a shadow transit on Jupiter or record the day’s solar activity. Maybe you'd just like to record motion pictures of comets or record a lunar eclipse... the possibilities are endless! Planetary cameras and digital imagers are a wonderful, low cost way of introducing yourself to astrophotography. These fascinating tools can be as easy to use as inserting the eyepiece camera into the telescope and turning on the screen! This is one of the coolest ways to share your hobby with others in an easily accessible way, and can produce truly breathtaking views that are by their nature preserved for others to share.