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Posts Tagged 'telescope-accessories'

Blog Archives

LPI-G: Planetary cameras and autoguiders from Meade

November 27 2018, Stefan Taube

 The abbreviation LPI-G stands for Lunar and Planetary Imager & Guider. These cameras from Meade are ideal for astrophotography involving the Sun, Moon and planets. Even small telescopes can safely carry these lightweight cameras. They plug into the telescope like an eyepiece and are connected to the laptop via USB.

Meade-LPI-G-LifeStyle1

Delivery includes Meade SkyCapture software – this allows intuitive operation and use of other programs via the ASCOM interface. The ST-4 socket means the cameras can also be used perfectly well as auto-guiders – that is, for the tracking control of your mount.

The standard version of the LPI-G series has a 1.2 megapixel sensor. The LPI-G Advanced camera offers a wider dynamic range, a 6.3 MP sensor and a high 59 fps frame rate. It has a USB 3.0 port to allow it to handle this data stream,.

The reasonably priced standard version is eminently suitable for beginners who would like to first get some experience. The Advanced model goes way beyond this and allows an intensive experience with planetary astrophotography to develop over many years.

Both versions are available as black-and-white or colour cameras. The black-and-white cameras have the advantage of higher sensitivity and resolution. The cost of colour imaging is higher as you will also need the appropriate colour filters and a filter wheel.

All the models available in the LPI-G series can be found here in the Astroshop.

New Smartphone Mount by Celestron: NexYZ

August 28 2018, Stefan Taube

The trend of using smartphone cameras for photography with optical instruments has remained steady. This is, of course, an obvious choice because everyone has this camera with them, ready to send pictures; and these cameras are always improving. The large range of smartphone mounts  has been extended by Celestron, adding a very interesting model.

NexXY

The  Celestron NexYZ is not only particularly robust; it can be adjusted in all three axes using a rotary knob. This means you’ll be able to set the perfect distance between the eyepiece and the adapter. This feature, in combination with the ease, with which the smartphone can be changed, is interesting for public shots at observatories, because all visitors want to take their personal moon photo home with them.

NexYZ-1

The clamp of the NexYZ adapter is also wonderfully suited for use on spotting scopes.

NexYZ-2

With the NexYZ adapter, we are offering you a smartphone holder with the usual clever design by Celestron.

5 Simple Ways to See and Photograph the Lunar Eclipse and the Opposition of Mars

July 13 2018, Marcus Schenk

Attention all lovers of nature, amateur astronomers and night owls: the night of the 27th of July, 2018 will be totally different.  In this particular night, we will experience the Opposition of Mars and a rare Total Lunar Eclipse in Europe!  It is sure to be a midnight Summer dream, in the middle of warm temperatures and mystical experiences.

In this article, you will learn about, that which you can use to observe and photograph the Total Lunar Eclipse and Mars.

Another interesting point: currently, there are a number of other planets to see. Now is the perfect opportunity to jump into Astronomy.  You will be rewarded with a fireworks show of planets.  Mars, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn are waiting for you to rediscover them!

As the night slowly falls, the Moon will rise in the southeast.  Our satellite will look unusual and simultaneously fascinating.  Almost completely eclipsed, it will rise higher and higher.  The “blood Moon”,  which evoked fears and superstitions of death and destruction in earlier times, will be visible for us to witness with our knowledge and science in a relaxing manner and with a smile.

The highlight of this year: at a length of 1 hour and 44 minutes of totality, we will get to enjoy the longest Lunar Eclipse of the century! More information about this event is available below.

Now you can read on to learn about the 5 ways and effective products, to observe the Moon and the Planets. Let’s go!

 

1. Discover the Sky with Binoculars

The lunar eclipse is visible with the naked eye,  but with a pair of binoculars, the Moon in the Earth’s shadow becomes an especially intense experience. For an great observation, we recommend the Omegon Binoculars Nightstar 20×80.  These binos are a great alternative to a telescope or as an entry into Astronomy.  They are bright and something that you can always carry with you.  Just point the binos to the sky or mount them on a tripod.  Then you will see the Moon in all its glory and innumerable craters.  It is amazing with both eyes, as if you were there.  But there is more.  You can can even view  Jupiter and its moons as well as starclusters, such as the Pleiades or the Andromeda Galaxy.

Großfernglas 20x80

The Omegon Binoculars 20×80

2. Getting closer with a telescope

Much like a mega zoom into the cosmos: A telescope allows you to see real detail. Observe the entire Moon, singular lunar craters, Jupiter, or Saturn with its massive system of rings. However you want.  The possibilities are endless!  With a greater magnification, only available with telescopes, you will be able to see Mars for the planet that it is and not just the red “star” in the night sky.  The Omegon AC 70/700 AZ-2 is the most budget-friendly entry point.  With a 70mm aperture, it collects 100 times more light than the naked eye.  The eyepieces enable a 35x and 70x magnification, or in combination with a barlow lense up to 140x.  More details and more resolution is available in the Omegon AC 90/1000 EQ-2.  The telescope is our tip for entry into lunar and planetary observing.  With a 90mm aperture, you will be able to see many details, such as the cloud bands on Jupiter or the polar caps on Mars.

Einsteigerteleskop

The Omegon AC 90/1000 EQ-2 – Recommendation for entry into Astronomy

3. The simplest way to your own astrophotos

A photo of the lunar eclipse?  It’s possible with the simplest tools.

With a telescope, the path to your own photos is just a small step.  The best camera for such a task is right in your pocket: your smartphone!  Pick up a Smartphone adapter, which will keep your phone perfectly positioned above the eyepiece.  We also offer the more budget-friendly Omegon Smartphone Adapter, which demands a bit of finesse or the Omegon Easypic Universal.  This smartphone adapter is a self-centering and easy-to-use device.  It only takes one minute and you will already have taken your own lunar photo.

Smartphoneadapter

Omegon Easypic Universal Smartphone adapter

4. The right eyepiece is decisive, when it comes to details

With eyepieces, you often must separate the wheat from the chaff.  An eyepiece is essentially an extended arm of the telescope’s optic and you should put a lot of stock into selection, just as you would with a telescope itself.  A good tip would be to replace old or standard eyepieces with high quality ones, which can provide you with a significantly better image.  Excellent crispness and great contrast can be found in the Omegon LE Planetry Eyepieces for all 1,25“.  The customer reviews range from “just fantastic” to “you cannot believe it”.

The Family of Omegon LE Planetary Eyepieces

5. Color filters for better contrast

Much like a chain, the planets of Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will appear to us in a line, and all after darkness has fallen, during the most comfortable time of year.  The constellation of planets is so rare, that now is the time to jump into astronomy.  Amateurs can easily pinpoint the planets and see details of each.  Polar caps and other structures on Mars, or the big red dot on Jupiter become more visible with the appropriate color filters.  Placed into the eyepiece, filters can lead to an epiphany for any motivated observer.  The Omegon Color filter set features the most important ones for all planets.  Other contrast filters or our Lunar Filter are also a helpful inclusion to your collection.

Farbfilter für die Planetenbeobachtung

Color filter set with 6 color filters

 

Other information about the Total Lunar Eclipse and the Mars Opposition is available here:

Infographic: Total Lunar Eclipse on the 27th of June 2018

Mars Opposition 2018: How to Observe Mars and its Details

 

Mars Opposition 2018: How to Observe Mars and its Details

June 29 2018, Marcus Schenk

On the 27th of July, 2018, the time will finally be upon us: our neighbor, Mars, will stand in opposition to the Sun.  Such an event happens every two years, but this time around is something much more special.  The last time Mars was so close to Earth, during opposition, was back in 2003.  This year, the red planet will come within 57 million kilometers, which is about the same distance as 15 years before.  Mars will appear to be about half of the size of Jupiter, something only rarely observable, but with numerous details.

For more info about the Opposition, how to observe, which details to look for and which accessories improve your chances of a rewarding observation, read on below:

Photo: B.Gährken

Content:

  1. Mars: The facts about a fascinating planet
  2. The Mars Opposition: What is it?
  3. Why only every two years?
  4. Why will Mars be so large this year
  5. Which Telescope?
  6. You can see this on Mars
  7. Helpful accessories, to improve your observation

1. Mars: The facts about a fascinating planet

With a diameter of 6,000 km, 687 day orbit and a mountain at 27,000 meters – Mars is only half as large as the Earth, but resembles our home very much.  Much like Earth, Mars is home to a rocky surface with mountains, plateaus and canyons.  Valles Marineris is a massive 4,000 km long canyon, with a width of 700 km, and is considered the Grand Canyon of Mars.  Comparatively, our Grand Canyon is relatively small at only 450 km in length and with a 30 km width.

Mars features other similarities, with its polar ice caps and even seasons.  Standing on Mars, you would also see sunrises and sunsets.  You could even see Earth with a telescope.  The planet even features a similar tilt in its orbital path and a day lasts 24 hours and 40 minutes.

What a nice twin, right?  Many space pioneers think so.  And to top it all off, recently NASA revealed clues that the planet was able to support life.  There are, of course, a few disadvantages to lifing on Mars: the cold.  A thick jacket won’t be enough, given that the temperatures drop to -85°C.  Nevertheless, temperatures could reach about 20°C at the equator.

Even the oxygen levels and atmospheric pressure varies greatly: 95% carbon dioxide, 1.8% nitrogen und 0.1% oxygen.  On Earth: 78% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. In other words, breathing on Mars would be suffocating.  Take off your spacesuit and your blood would boil in short time, as if you were at 35 km in altitude above the Earth – 3 times higher than cruise altitude of a commercial jet.

2. The Mars Opposition: What is an opposition?

An opposition occurs, when Mars stands in a straight line with Earth and the Sun.

3. Why only every two years?

Mars orbits the Sun once every 687 days, so roughly 2 years.  We on Earth travel a much higher speed and only require 365 days to orbit.

Imagine that both planets start at the same spot.  The Earth would lap Mars at some point during its orbit.  Given that Mars is also orbiting, one trip around the Sun would not suffice, however.  Only after 780 days will the Earth and Mars be aligned once again.  An opposition!

4. Why will Mars appear to be so large this year?

Mars is pretty conspicuous in the sky this year.  The red planet rises as dusk falls, and will shine bright in the night sky until dawn.  The disk will appear to be enormous!  It will increase to up to 24 arc seconds.  Through a telescope, Mars will appear especially large, meaning we will be able to identify many details on the surface.  It is a unique chance for observers and astro-photographers.  Mars only appeared slightly smaller during the Opposition of 2003.

Mars does not have a circular orbit, rather an off-center orbit around the Sun.  That is why its distance to Earth can vary so greatly.  Depending on the position, oppositions can vary between 101 m and 55 m km.  This year: 57.7 m km.  In 2020, 62.2 m km and two years later 82 m km.  By year 2035, Mars will once again be about as close as this year.

For observers in the norther hemisphere, the close oppositions will take place below the celestial equator, since they occur in the Summer months.  The planet will not be found high above the horizon, but rather just above it: this year, just 15°.

5. Which Telescope?

Mars is bright and an object, that you can see with the naked eye.  It will rise late in the eveing in the south west, climbing ever higher and reaching its meridian on 27th of July, 2018.  Shortly before sunrise, the red planet will once again disappear under the horizon.  You cannot miss Mars, since it will be the only bright object with a very bright and red color.

During the opposition, Mars will be quite large.  That is why you could use just about every telescope to have a look at the planet, even a telescope with a 70-80 mm aperture.  A good beginner’s scope for planets would be the Omegon AC 90/1000 EQ-2.  With an intermediate or large telescope from 150 – 200 mm, you will be able to enjoy a greater resolution, which is important if you want to be able to see the small details.  Keep an eye out that the telescope is well calibrated and adjusted for the temperature outside – important factors for a good, contrast-rich image.  Many observers cherish Dobson telescopes, since they are inexpensive, bright, and easy to work with.

Mars bei 250-facher Vergrößerung

Mars through a telescope

To view Mars, use a magnification of at least 100.  Reason is, the small the planet, the more difficult it will be to see detail.  Shorter focal lengths additionally afford you the greatest magnification.  Magnifications of 200 – 300x are sensible to use.  Hint: high-quality Televue Eyepieces on Sale are available here.

6. What to See on Mars

If you have a telescope of 100x, mars will appears only as red ball.  With patience, you should be able to identify the bright, white polar caps.

Marsdetails

Mars with notations, Image: B. Gährken

The most noticeable dark area on the red planet is the Syrte, which is a large, dust-free, and high plateau with a width of 1,300 km.  The area lies close to the equator and should be noticeable with an intermediate telescope.  The Hellas Basin is a large, bright region, found south of Syrte and often home to storms.  Of course, we will only be able to see these two regions, if Mars happens to be sharing this side of itself.  Additionally, white clouds of meteorological phenomena can be seen with larger telescopes and color filters.

A foldable “Mars Map”  from Orion is helpful in preparing for observations and photography.

7. Helpful Accessories

The ADC Corrector: for more contrast on the horizon

If we observe an object just above the horizon, the object could already set.  The light of the cosmos is often distorted, while passing through the atmostphere or bowed.  We see the same effect, for example, in a glass of water or a straw.  The water is an optically dense medium – just as a straw would in a different way.  Our atmosphere does the same.

ADC Korrektor

A Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope with ADC and a Toupek camera

Is that a problem? Indeed, when we talk about an astronomical object.  Blue and red light is distorted in different ways.  Objects then exhibit a colored edge and appear to be contrast-less.  The images are just less sharp, than those higher in the sky.

The ADC from Omegon produces – if you will – a negative color defect, which works against the atmosphere.  The planet Mars plays a role here.  Mars appears, to float just a bit higher.  When one of our colleagues tested the ADC the first time, he noted, “The effect was massive.  It appeared as if the telescope was suddenly replaced with another.”

Dispersion

The atmosphere has an effect, like a simple lens and the colors of light are dispersed in various ways.  An object appears higher, as a result, than it really is, in addition to color fringes.  Image sources: NASA/JPL Solar System Simulator, Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech https://space.jpl.nasa.gov/.

In the next few years, many of the planets will be found quite close to the horizon.  But, the ADC is your best hope.  You can use it for visual observations, as well as for photography.  Putting it to use is also quite simple: just place it into the recess, where the eyepieces normally is attached.

The advantages of the ADC in a nutshell:

  • ADC corrects atmospheric dispersion
  • Color fringes are reduced or disappear
  • Sharpness and contrast increase, as if the planet were higher in the sky
  • Just put it in the eyepiece recess and adjust the prisms.

Color filters: to unlock Mars’ detailed surface

Color filters are very useful for planetary observations, since they increase contrasts and make many details visible, which you may not see otherwise.  The only requirement is that you should have some experience in observing, because seeing in astronomy is learned.

Color filters are available in sizes 1.25″ or 2″ and are simply screwed into the threads of the eyepiece.

But which details can you see on Mars?

Farbfilter für die Marsbeobachtung

Color filters are screwed directlz into the thread of your eyepiece.

Green filter: with it, you can directly enhance the surface, clouds and freezing fog.

Blue filter: only used for freezing fog and clouds.

Yellow filter: Great for seeing the occasional several week-long dust storm on the surface, by brightening such areas.

Orange and Red filters: Orange filters enhance the bright/dark structures of the surface and are the standard filter for observing Mars. The red filter does the same, but only utilized in large telescopes.

Tip: There are also special Mars filters, which increases greatly the contrasts of the red planet.

Filter wheel: For the quick switch

When you want to use several different filters, we recommend the filter wheel, for a quick switch between filter types.

Camera: Capture Mars

Do you want to photograph Mars? Then get your hands on a Touptek Camera G3M178C, which offers a high sensitivity and a resolution of 6.4 megapixels.  Plus, it is extremely fast.  With 59 images per second, you can put the shortest moments to use, resulting in sharp images of the red planet.

Aufbau für Planetenfotografie

The assembly of a successful Mars photography session: a Touptek camera, a barlow lens with a flip mirror and an eyepiece.

Flip Mirror

A great aid for planetary photography, making centering the planet in the dark hours no contest.  With a flip mirror, you can switch between an eyepiece and camera in mere seconds.

Get out and observe!

Don’t wait until the year 2035! This Summer is a great opportunity to marvel at Mars in all its glory.  In contrast to the opposition in 2003, camera technology has come quite a long way.  Instruments like the ADC additionally enable you to view objects on the horizon.  Get your telescope read and have a look at our nearest neighbor this Summer!

Product tip: Want to show your enthusiasm? Then get your hands on the Mars T-shirt!  The backside features all the info of the opposition: distance, size, and brightness.  Order now!

Mars T-shirt

Mars T-shirt

New mount from Skywatcher: EQM-35 Pro SynScan GoTo

May 16 2018, Stefan Taube

Many amateur astronomers started their hobby with the EQ-3 by Skywatcher. There’s one reason: The mount is excellent value for money and easy to transport. It can be used as an equatorial mount with motorised tracking for astrophotography and offers the functionality of larger mounts with its SynScan control.

Skywatcher has developed the EQ-3 mount further. We would like present to you the new EQM-35 Pro SynScan GoTo!

 

Die neue Montierung von Skywatcher: EQM-35 Pro

Combine the EQM-35 Pro with a 6-inch telescope. The much-loved Newton optics N 150/750 is very suitable. You will receive this telescope with an improved eyepiece holder: N 150/750 PDS Explorer BD. It has a gear reduction that is useful for astrophotography. If you are interested mainly in photography, the new apochromatic refractor EvoStar 72 ED would be a great choice!

The special highlight of the EQM-35 Pro is the removal declination axis. This way you can use it as a photo mount , with a camera and lens taking the place of the telescope. The EQM-35 Pro then tracks the sky’s rotation, allowing long-exposure shots of larger constellations.

Die EQM-35 als Fotomontierung

With the new EQM-35 Pro, you’ll be getting a versatile and very light mount on a sturdy steel tube tripod. A very good choice for taking up astronomy as a hobby without breaking the bank and a good travel mount for experienced astrophotographers.

Solarquest, the new mount by Skywatcher for observing the sun

April 19 2018, Marcus Schenk

Adjusting your telescope while observing the sun is not as easy as you might at first think. The telescope should, of course, already be oriented towards the sun using a sun filter before setting up. When attempting to orient the telescope towards the sun, you can quickly become careless and peer without eye protection through the telescope at the blazing sun. Help is at hand here with the solar finder or the new Solarquest mount by Skywatcher.

Skywatcher Solarquest

The Solarquest mount has GPS, an automatic level and an electronic solar finder, Heliofind®. You only have to fit the mount. After a short initialisation, the mount moves by itself to the sun. But, of course, the  Solarquest can do more than that: The mount guides the telescope as the sun moves across the sky, so that it is always in line with the eyepiece or camera sensor. This precise tracking can also be done via the built-in Heliofind® finder.

Skywatcher Heliofind

Of course, you can also correct the orientation of the mount by hand, for example, if you are working with greater magnification, and would like to move to a specific place on the solar disc. To do this, there is a slider button on the mount so you can guide the movement yourself.

Solarquest

The azimuthal single arm mount, Solarquest, can hold small optics weighing up to four kilos, making it especially light and quiet. The Solarquest, in combination with a small sun telescope, forms an easy-to-transport system that is quick to set up – that is both particularly comfortable on your balcony at home and ideal for travel or for training purposes.

Skywatcher Vixen

You can also place a small refractor on the Solarquest and fit a sun filter  to it. In combination with a QUARK by DayStar, it is even possible to observe in H-alpha or Calcium-H light. You can even use it for night astronomy without a sun filter using the Solarquest mount. The Solarquest mount becomes a part of your versatile system for night observation.

New, high-performance astrophotography computer, the EAGLE series

April 10 2018, Elias Erdnüß

With the brand-new models, EAGLE 2 and EAGLE 2 Pro, as well as with the upgraded EAGLE CORE, the innovative Italian company, PrimaLuceLab, is taking astrophotography into the 21st century.


Many astrophotographers use a laptop: to control the wide range of camera equipment, autoguiders and filter wheels and to save the shots you take, a portable computer is essential. All devices must be connected separately to the battery and be connected to each other properly. It takes times and you end up with cables all over the place. When using heater bands, you need ever more controls, and this creates even more cable chaos. This hardly bothers those who have their own small observatory: All the equipment can remain permanently and perfectly set up with ideal cable routes and cable ties, and everything is controlled via a PC that is installed in the observatory.

EAGLE 2 makes this comfort also available to astrophotographers without an observatory! The EAGLE 2 computers are full, high-performance Windows 10 computers on which you can install any software, just like a PC. Using USB connectors, cameras, mounts and autoguiders can be connected to the EAGLE 2, and it also features 12V outputs to supply the power for mounts, camera cooling systems and heating bands. The power supply of all the equipment operates like that via EAGLE 2 and can be set and controlled. A compact battery with just one single 12V direct current output is now all that’s needed! The EAGLE 2 is not just another device that takes up extra time every night to set up and for all the cables to be connected. It has many mechanical connection possibilities so it can be permanently connected to your equipment. The idea is to set up the optimum mechanical connection and perfect cabling once, and then carry it as a whole without stumbling or getting tangled up.

The greatest highlight of the entire system is, however, the Wifi capability of the EAGLE 2. From any terminal you want, whether it be your smartphone, tablet and even a Mac, you can control the EAGLE 2 remotely and wirelessly. On the terminal, you’ll see the familiar Windows 10 interface of the EAGLE 2 and can use it like any normal PC.

The pro version of the EAGLE 2 computer is fitted with more working memory, a more powerful processor and a larger hard drive. It is perfectly suited to more CPU-intensive image processing or other advanced application that go beyond simple telescope and camera control. The inexpensive small brother is the EAGLE CORE. There’s no Windows 10 running on this; instead, it has special software for controlling DSLR cameras and autoguiding equipment. So, the EAGLE CORE is the right choice for DSLR astrophotographers who want to use an autoguider without having to take an extra laptop with them.

If you’ve been thinking about buying a new laptop for astrophotography for a while, you really ought to consider the EAGLE 2 computer as an alternative. A permanently installed solution, no messy cables, no problems with power supply and comfortable wireless remote control all speak for themselves!

Until End of April: 10% Discount on all ToupTek Cameras

April 1 2018, Marcus Schenk

Beautiful astro-photos taken by you. Would that not be wonderful? The modern Planet Cameras from ToupTek give you the best chance, to eternalize your passion for Astronomy in the form of a photo.

 

Huge Spring Sale: 10% discount now on all ToupTek Cameras. Only until the 30th of April.

Take advantage of this opportunity, because the fantastic Opposition of Mars is coming up!

 

 

ToupTek offers an all-in-one solution: Each camera comes with the applicable software, making capturing the planetary photos that you have always wanted child’s play – crisp and detailed! New developments in sensors and electrons make a significant difference!

 

Futher Highlights:

  • Highly modern and extremely sensitive CMOS Sensors
  • Cameras for planets, guiding and Deep-Sky Objects
  • Choose between 2.1 and 6.5 megapixel resolution
  • Monochrome and color cameras available

 

Mars with ToupTek Astronomy camera

Mars as capture by Bernd Gährken. Get ready for the Opposition of Mars 2018 now!

Get your hands now on a ToupTek Camera of your choice for a great price!

Did you know? With help of two info-graphics, you will be able to quickly find the best camera for you.
Touptek: Which camera is for me? Find out here – all at a glance.

The new Sony Exmor R sensor: What does it mean for astrophotographers?

March 26 2018, Marcus Schenk

“Where there’s a lot of light, there’s a lot of shadow”.

These words come from no less than Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. When he wrote these lines, nobody had even conceived of digital cameras. And the famous poet expressed this in a totally different context.

And yet: This sentence is so well suited to astronomy camera sensors that we simply had to use it.

But how does it all fit together? And why does this quote no longer apply to cameras with new Exmor R sensors? We’ll come back to that.

100% more sensitive cameras by ToupTek

This is news that many friends of astronomy will be pleased with: The latest ToupTek cameras are up to 100% more sensitive (source: Sony) than older, conventional CMOS cameras. For recently, great things have been achieved in sensor technology. To put it briefly: Thanks to the new Exmor R sensor, it’s now possible to put even more object information on the chip with short exposure times.

The cameras by ToupTek have already been fitted with these latest, brand-new sensors: Here’s the link to the cameras.

Until a few years ago, people still preferred CCD sensors. This was because they created less noise, were sensitive and you could recognise more details. But CMOS sensors have been improved. Fast data transport and super-fast digitalisation round out the achievements. Noise was markedly reduced, making this technology interesting for astronomy.

These CMOS sensors are also referred to as front-illuminated sensors. And this is where Goethe’s quote: “Where there’s a lot of light, there’s a lot of shadow” becomes interesting. Because it’s got something to do with the architecture or the construction of the chip.

Der Front-Illuminated Sensor: Lichtstrahlen treffen auf den Sensor, werden aber zum Teil abgelenkt.“Classic” CMOS sensors

Front-illuminated sensors contais quite a few elements that the photons must go through before they reach their target land on the pixel.

First, there are the microlenses, then the colour filters and then finally the electronics. The latter were placed on the chip from above. This means: at this spot, there are aluminium strips, wires and transistors. The photons must go through them, too. After all that, the light finally reaches the long-awaited pixel.

The electronics, however, unfortunately, acts like a shadow-caster. It’s a little like what we experience with telescopes with large secondary mirrors: some of the light is absorbed and diverted.

Some photons simply don’t have a chance. They are not let through or they are simply reflected by the metal wire. This consequence is unavoidable: Less light reaches the sensor.

Sony, however, thought about how current chips could be made more sensitive. And something amazing occurred to them and which is now being used in astronomy cameras: “Back-illuminated” CMOS sensors.

 

The new “back-illuminated” sensors by Sony

Sony has taken sensors apart and put them back together quite differently. Now, the photons pass through the microlenses and then the colour filters. So far, so good. But after that, they go straight to the pixels.

The electronics, wires and transistors are located behind. The photons now reach the photo cells without being diverted. The silicon substrate is illuminated from behind instead of from the front. Another advantage is STARVIS technology, a sub-group of the Exmor R sensors that possess even higher sensitivity. This technology realises its greatest benefit precisely where there is little light.

Thanks to numerous improvements, the Exmor R sensors are extremely fast , produce even less noise, and are twice as sensitive (source: Sony) and even have higher transmission in the infra-red.

This technology has been used in research for a long time already. But until now, the price of such cameras was astronomically high. Thanks to the fall in price, amateurs can now enjoy the benefits of these CMOS sensors.

What does this mean for your astronomy shots?

  • More light in a shorter time
  • Shorter exposure times – and therefore fewer problems with tracking
  • Galaxies and nebulae can now be photographed without cooled cameras
  • Extremely high frame rates – resulting in even sharper planet shots
  • Higher sensitivity in the close infra-red range – for images of Mars and Venus
  • Brighter celestial objects often possible as live video

Conclusion:

These new “back-illuminated” sensors by Sony offer new and exciting possibilities for astrophotographers. Thanks to the lower costs the prices are low. And the gain is beautiful astronomy photographs with little outlay. But the best of all is: The cameras by ToupTek are already fitted with this technology. Perhaps, we could now say: “Where there’s a lot of light, there remains a lot of light”. At least, as far as these new cameras are concerned.

P.S.:

If you want to use these cameras, too, then go here.

The new Atik Horizon is finally available!

March 20 2018, Elias Erdnüß

The new highly promising astronomy camera Horizon by Atik will be available very soon. This actively-cooled CMOS camera – available as a colour and mono version – comes with Infinity Live Stacking software, offering an easy introduction to astrophotography. At the same time, this high-performance camera has all the functions that experienced amateur astronomers could wish for. If you would like to take the bold step of taking up the fascinating hobby of astrophotography, with this camera, you have a product that will offer features that go way beyond beginner level.

The 16-megapixel CMOS MN34230 sensor by Panasonic is used. With an active chip diagonal of 22 mm, the sensor surface area is comparable with that of the popular APS-C format on SRL cameras. This large sensor, with a much high pixel density, is a great benefit compared with the well-loved Atik Infinity that comes under the same price category. The extremely low noise level of modern CMOS chips in conjunction with active cooling make the Horizon ideal for deep-sky photography.

If you have already gained experience in astrophotography with an SRL camera , the Atik Horizon is perfect for the leap to a specialist camera. The active cooling reduces not only sensor noise dramatically, it means that a stable sensor temperature can be obtained. You no longer have to shorten the valuable observation time just to take a few dark frames for image calibration. Thanks to the cooling, you can maintain the same sensor temperature throughout the day, thus collecting valuable dark frames for hours on end.

This camera is, however, not suitable for planet shots – for example, with a lucky imaging process – because you can only take around one image per second. If you are looking for a high-quality planet camera with which you can take lots of images per second, you need look no further than the models by ToupTek or The Imaging Source.

The company, Atik Cameras Limited, has made a name for itself in recent years with its high-quality CCD astronomy cameras. With this first step to rapidly improving CMOS sensor technology, a camera is being offered that should be considered by both beginners and professionals.

11.07.2020
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