Using CCD Cameras for Astrophotography

When it comes to astrophotography, your camera choices are DSLR cameras, DSC cameras, webcams and CCD cameras. CCD cameras that are used for astrophotography are typically used in conjunction with a telescope. Many people use CCD cameras for astrophotography because they reduce noise and are great for wide angle shots. CCD cameras can be used for scenic and planetary shots, but they are the best cameras for deep sky shots. This guideline will go over a few tips for using CCD cameras for astrophotography.

Required CCD Cameras Equipment

You must have a computer in order to use CCD cameras for astrophotography. In addition to owning a computer, you will need specific software, a telescope, and a mount. If you plan on using CCD cameras for astrophotography, software that you should look into includes CCDSoft, CCDOPS and MaxIm DL. You can hook a CCD camera up to any computer as long as it meets the specifications of the software that you are using.

You can use any mount in conjunction with a CCD camera, but fork mounts, German equatorial mounts and dobsosian mounts are recommended for astrophotography. The most important equipment for CCD cameras is a telescope. While you can use any telescope that fits your CCD camera, you may want to look into SCT and high end refractor telescopes, such as those made by Ritchey-Cretian and Maksutov-Cassegrain.

Focusing CCD Cameras

If your CCD camera is not properly focused, your astrophotography shots will be blurry and of low quality. To begin the process of focusing a CCD camera, use your telescope to locate a star or any other stationary object in the sky. It is best that you focus in on stars or other objects that are of medium brightness when you are focusing CCD cameras for astrophotography. Once you have focused in on an object in the sky, change your CCD camera to full resolution. When you are in full resolution, or unbinned mode, you will see maximum pixel readings on your CCD camera.

You want to focus your camera in and out until you find the highest average maximum pixel readings. Once you find the highest average maximum pixel readings, your CCD camera will be perfectly focused for astrophotography.

Types of Shots

Unfortunately, you cannot use CCD cameras for all aspects of astrophotography. When you are using CCD cameras for astrophotography, you should focus on lunar and solar shots, stars and constellations, and large planets. You might be able to get away with photographing small planets, but your CCD camera will need to be equipped with tracking. You should never use CCD cameras to capture photos of DSOs.

If you are taking lunar and solar shots with your CCD camera, it is likely that you will need to make some minor adjustments to the contrast and sharpness of the photo, but that can be done with the most basic software. You do not need a telescope to capture lunar and solar shots with CCD cameras, but you will need a telescope for shots of stars, constellations and large planets, such as Jupiter and Saturn.