Dark Horse Observatory

Dark Horse Observatory
Kimberton, PA US


Video Equipment

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When I recently started out in astronomy I found myself frustrated by the difficulty new observers' frequenly have seeing deep sky objects. Aside from the challenges of finding the objects, the light-polluted suburban skies of my driveway made faint objects almost invisible to my eye. Bending over an eyepiece can be a painful experience. I am absolutely artistically challenged when it comes to pencils so drawing was out of the question if I wanted to actually remember what I saw.

Then I read about the StellaCam II in Sky&Telescope magazine. I was intrigued by this and purchased one. Little did I know how much equipment it would take to run and even less the miles of wires and pounds of connectors that I would acquire! You can see the contents of the transport case I had to use to get to the field with all this stuff!

The StellaCam II is near the center of the case behind a focal reducer I sometimes used. The wired hand controller is in the right front corner and the labelled power supply is behind that. The large white video box is the Canopus ADVC110 which converted the analog signal to digital while allowing an analog pass through to a monitor to permit live viewing. The digital signal was sent via firewire to either my Canon A1 Digital video camera or to my laptop. The former allowed me to draw less power and record hours of video images for later processing. On the left of the case are connecting wires and a wireless distribution system for transmitting the image to a monitor. This eliminates one wire to trip over in the dark.

My first optical systems were the Meade LX200 GPS and also the Televue TV-102 on a Vixen Sphinx mount. All of this equipment has moved on to new homes but it served me well. One interesting video that I have held on to is this movie of geese flying by my field of view while I was imaging the moon. I think that it was a very unique occurrence! Click on the image of the moon below to run it.

All of this served to wet my appetite for astro-imaging. I began with stacking images with a program called Registax. Some of the images are still available on the Early Images page of this site. Considering what I was working with and my limited understanding of processing I am pretty proud of them!.

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