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Camera’s

CCD Camera’s

There are a number of CCD cameras in use at the Overgaard Outreach Observatory.  These cameras are very special and use a device called a Charge Coupled Device to store an image.  In time there will be a tutorial or two on how these devices work but for the moment it’s best to think of them as a special class of solid state imaging devices that are designed to take pictures of faint stars and objects in the night sky.

Most of the CCD cameras at OOO come from a company called Atik.  There are three cameras used from this company.  They will each be discussed below.

Atik 320E

Atik 320E camera

This is the Atik 320E CCD Camera

The Atik 320E camera is a CCD imaging camera with the following specifications:

  • Sensor Type – Sony ICX274AL
  • Resolution – 1620 x 1220 pixels
  • Pixel Size – 4.40 μm x 4.40 μm
  • ADC – 16 bit
  • Readout Noise – Typical 3e-
  • Interface – USB 2.0 High-Speed
  • Power – 12Vdc @ 800mA
  • Cooling – Thermoelectric, ΔT = -25ºC Max
  • Weight – 350 grams

This is the main imaging camera used at OOO for deep space and planetary imaging.  It is used in conjunction with a 9 stage filter wheel.  The filter wheel allows us to take full color images of stars and planets.  Since all CCD imaging cameras are black and white imaging devices the only way you can make a full color image is to take successive pictures of an object through red, blue and green filters.  These filtered images are then post processed in software similar to Photoshop to produce a full color image.

filter wheel

This is the Atik EFW2 Filter wheel.

This filter wheel will support 9 different 1.25″ filters at once.  The wheel is motor driven and controlled by software running on the main observatory PC.  When a filtered image is to be taken the computer commands the filter wheel to rotate the proper filter into place.  The image is then taken through the filter.  When the image is done, the computer commands the filter wheel to change the filter and another picture is taken.  This continues until all of the necessary filtered pictures are taken to produce the final image.

Atik 314L+

atik 314l+

This is the Atik 314L+ camera.

The Atik 314L+ camera is a CCD imaging camera with the following specifications:

  • Sensor Type – Sony ICX285AL
  • Resolution – 1392 x 1040 pixels
  • Pixel Size – 6.45 μm x 6.45 μm
  • ADC – 16 bit
  • Readout Noise – Typical 4e-
  • Interface – USB 2.0 High-Speed
  • Power – 12Vdc @ 800mA
  • Cooling – Thermoelectric, ΔT = -27ºC Max
  • Weight – 400 grams

This is the main imaging camera that is used with the Spectra – L200 Littrow Spectroscope.  This is a favorite camera for this application due to it’s very sensitive response and resolution.

Atik Titan

atik titan camera

This is the Atik Titan ccd camera.

The Atik Titan camera is a CCD imaging camera with the following specifications:

  • Sensor Type – Sony ICX424
  • Resolution – 659 x 494 pixels
  • Pixel Size – 7.4 μm x 7.4 μm
  • ADC – 16 bit
  • Readout Noise – Typical 5e-
  • Interface – USB
  • Power – 12Vdc @ 550mA
  • Cooling – Thermoelectric, ΔT = -20ºC Max
  • Weight – 350 grams

The Atik Titan camera is used as the guide camera for the L200 spectrometer.  Both the Titan and the 314L+ cameras are essentially fixed connected to the spectrometer.  The calibration of the spectrometer is so sensitive that it becomes pointless to try to use the guide and imaging cameras for any other use than dedicated to the spectrometer.

 Orion Starshooter

orion starshooter

Orion Starshooter guide ccd camera

The Orion Starshooter camera is a CCD imaging camera with the following specifications:

  • Sensor Type – Micron MT9M001
  • Resolution – 1280 x 1024 pixels
  • Pixel Size – 5.2 μm x 5.2 μm
  • ADC – 8 bit
  • Readout Noise – Typical 10e-
  • Interface – USB 2.0 High-Speed
  • Power – 12Vdc @ 550mA
  • Cooling – none
  • Weight – 114 grams

The Orion Starshooter camera is the main guide camera that is attached to the Orion 80mm guide telescope that sits on top of the main telescope assembly.

Celestron Skyris 274M

skyris 274m video camera

This is the Celestron Skyris 274M video CCD camera

The Celestron Skyris 274M camera is a monochrome video CCD imaging camera with the following specifications:

  • Sensor Type – Sony Super HAD ICX274AL
  • Resolution – 1600 x 1200 pixels
  • Pixel Size – 4.40 μm x 4.40 μm
  • ADC – 12 bit
  • Readout Noise – Typical 3e-
  • Interface – USB 3.0
  • Power – Powered by USB
  • Cooling – none
  • Weight – 102 grams

The Skyris 274M camera has basically the same imaging sensor that is found on the Atik 320E.  The only difference is the Skyris has been designed as a video camera.  It can maintain a constant 20fps video rate at full resolution.  This camera is primarily used with the Coronado 90mm Solar telescope to capture images of the sun in the Ha visible spectrum.  It also makes a very good camera for capturing planetary images.  This camera has been designed for Celestron by The Imaging Source.  They manufacture a full line of industrial and scientific cameras.  The 274M is really an upgraded version of their older DMK51AU02. This was a USB 2.0 interface camera with an internal 8 bit D/A.  The newer 274M has a high speed USB 3.0 interface and now uses a 12 bit D/A for much higher resolution.

Mallincam Xtreme X2 Color Video CCD Camera

mallincam x2 ccd video camera

This is a Mallincam Xtreme X2 CCD Video Camera

The Mallincam Xtreme X2 camera is a color video CCD imaging camera with the following specifications:

  • Sensor Type – Sony ICX418AKL
  • Resolution – 768 x 494 pixels
  • Pixel Size – 8.4 μm x 9.8 μm
  • ADC – N/A – Analog NTSC output
  • Interface – NTSC and S-Video, RS232 for control
  • Power – 12Vdc, custom cable
  • Cooling – Peltier and fan

The Mallincam Xtreme X2 color video CCD camera is a very interesting camera we are lucky to have at the observatory.  This is a very sensitive color CCD camera.  We’ve not had much chance to use this camera yet but hope to in the near future.  This camera allows one to capture color images of deep space objects like galaxies and nebula in a very short (seconds and minutes) period of time as compared to the very long (hours and days) that it takes to create a color image from the CCD still cameras like the Atik 320E.  Nature’s constant is one never gets something for free so the price one pays for getting full color images so fast is their resolution is much lower.  Still that being said many people are taking quite fantastic images with these cameras.  They will enable OOO to have live viewing sessions that can be broadcast over the web.  We are looking forward to exploring this capability in the future.

 Moonglow AllSkyCam

allskycam

This is a Moonglow AllSkyCam.

The Moonglow AllSkyCam camera is a color video CCD imaging camera with the following specifications:

  • Sensor Type – Sony 1/3″ Super HAD CCD II
  • Resolution – 546 x 457 pixels effective across FOV
  • Pixel Size – unknown
  • ADC – N/A – Analog NTSC output
  • Interface – NTSC video
  • Power – 12Vdc
  • Cooling – none
  • Minimum Illumination – 0.0002 lux (starlight)

Last but not least, our Moonglow AllSkyCam is fixed to our observatory and shows the weather at all time giving us a full 180 degree horizon to horizon exposure.  You can see the output on a regular basis by visiting our Weather page.