Webcam Astrophotography  

  The Canon 350D camera is hopeless for taking pictures of the planets. For example, Saturn forms a tiny image on the camera sensor, and atmospheric turbulance will cause surface features to swim about. This is the best I can do with Saturn: (Note that the rings are almost edge-on to a viewer on Earth at the moment).

Many people have put ordinary webcams to good use in astrophotography. One of the most popular webcams is the TouCam Pro which is no longer in production.

I found one on Ebay.

The lens is unscrewed and replaced by an adaptor which enables it to be connected to the telescope.

  I used the Philips software that came with the TouCam to capture a 66 second video of a roof that is about 500 yards from my house.

A program called 'Virtual Dub' was used to split the video into 1041 individual frames.

These were put into Registax which combined the best 150 frames.

Photoshop was then used to increase contrast.

Below is one of the individual frames and the final processed version:

If similar results can be obtained with Saturn I will be more than pleased. All we need now is clear skies.

4th April 2009

I tried the Toucam on the Moon. It was quite difficult finding the position at which the image was focussed on the
camera sensor. Once the position was located I made a mark on the focuser tube to make it easier next time.
Exact focus was also difficult as looking at the laptop screen and adjusting the focuser was awkward.
The slightest touch made the telescope shake about badly. (I don't have a Bahtinov mask for the 10" scope).
I made videos with approximately 2000 frames and selected the best 200 for stacking with Registax.
To avoid transferring the files to the main PC I started processing all the images on the laptop. The results
were dreadful and I was most disheartened, having spent quite a bit on getting the Toucam from Ebay.
Everything looked very noisy and after a while I gave up.

The next day I decided to try again and transferred files to the PC. Amazing! Images were now quite acceptable.
The poor quality of the laptop screen had been the problem all along.
Mosaics were made with iMerge which needs manual positioning.
A day later I remembered I had AutoStitch for creating panoramas and tried that. It worked flawlessly.

As you can see, I didn't plan ahead and didn't manage to cover the Moon's surface evenly,
or get the Moon aligned correctly. I will know better next time.
However, I was pleased with the images. Overall magnification was greater than when using the Canon 350D,

and the image quality is considerably improved.