The simple truth is - the easiest, least expensive, way to get started imaging the night sky is to use a Webcam.  Out of the box, these standard commercially available cameras can do remarkable things with planetary and other bright object images......and with some modification, you can tackle DSO with longer exposure times.  I bought my webcam to capture planetary images, not because my SBIG camera couldn't do a credible job, but because the results people were achieving were pretty amazing.   So I ordered a Philips ToUcam Pro (PCV740K).  For about $140.00 you've can get the most recommended webcam with a reasonably capable CCD chip.  Inside the box you find an odd looking egg shaped carrying case that stores the camera.







The webcam has a base and threaded lens, that each have to be removed.  In place of the lens, I installed a Mogg Universal Webcam Adapter which is nothing more than a threaded adapter that replaces the lens and provides a standard 1.25" barrel that fits in place of any 1.25' eyepiece.  The other things that you'll want to add is an IR filter and, of course, a cap to keep the dust out.






The lens that comes with the webcam just unscrews from the cam, to expose the CCD chip of the camera in the image to the right.  This make way for the Mogg adapter which threads right into the cam replacing the original lens.  The adapter is made from delrin, and provides a standard 1.25" barrel that replace the 1.25" eyepiece of your scope. 






The image on the left shows the Mogg adapter installed.  You'll want to remove the little plastic stand from the camera, as it just isn't required on your scope






The Mogg adapter has standard 1.25" filters threads that allow you to install an IR blocking filter.  I bought a Schular Filter for about $35.  I think there are a couple of reasons an IR blocking filter is needed.  First, the CCD chip is sensitive to IR at wavelengths beyond the ability of even the best APO refractors to focus.  You'll get shaper images if you block this light, and with something as bright as Planetary objects - you just don't need the IR contribution.  Second, the filter helps to keep dust off the CCD chip.




Making the Webcam ready for use in your scope is a simple process that takes a very few minutes.  Setting the drivers up on your computer will likely be a more time consuming and frustrating process.  Here is what the camera looks like ready for use.


The software, image capture, and processing part of using a webcam is a bit more of a challenge.  I'll work to write more on those subjects as I get more familar with the them myself.  Until then, let me offer you these links for QCUIAG and their Yahoo Group.  There is a great deal of the information ( and other links) needed to help get you started contained in those sites.  Enjoy........and share your images with other!




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