Astronomical CCD & Night Vision Devices

© Brooke Clarke 2000 - 2016


Cameras - CCD Astronomical Cameras Spreadsheet - sorted by Area of a pixel


Satellite Orbit Determination (Search)

OTA Optical Tube Assembly
Astronomical CCD Camera
CMOS Cameras
Night Vision Devices
Star Trackers - Navigation Instruments - Star trackers are used in aircraft, missiles and space craft and can work day & night
Scientific CCD Cameras - Scientific - Industrial -Security CCD cameras - spreadsheet
Frame Grabbers
Low Light TV Cameras
GOTO Equatorial Mount - Mount Spreadsheet
Imaging Satellites 


Automated CCD camera Searches
Near Earth Objects
Northern Light (Auroras)
Variable Stars
Satellite Searches


My Ideal Telescope -

CCD Chips

Manufacturers -
EG&G - Reticon - RA0512J (512x512),  RA1024J (1024x1024) $1,200 to $12,000 - Area Scan -
Hamamatsu  - S7170-0909 - 532 x 520 12.288x12.288
Fairchild Imaging - both chips and cameras (cooled and rm temp)
HiRho CCD -
IBM - is getting into the digital still camera CCD business - maybe in the future monochrome units for astronomy
Kirk Gilmore, University of California, Santa Cruz - - CCD Design and Data Center -Lick Observatory -

Kodak - Solid State Imaging - KAF Series - KAF Blue Plus Series -
           DS 02-009 KAF Series Full-Frame CCD Sensors Binning Mode Operation -
           DS 02-006 Blue Plus Image Sensor Overview -
           DS 03-003 KLI-10203 Reference Design  -
           When Digital cameras Need Large Pixels -
           Digital Evaluation Boards - KAF Series -
                       Supports  0261, 0401*, 1001, 1302, 1401, 1602*, 2000, 3000, 3040, 4204, 4300, 6302, 6303, 16801 and Blue+ version of each
                       * the KAF 0400 and 1600 CCD chips plug directly into the eval board, the others are on daughter boards
        Altera - makes the two  7000S PLD used by the Kodak Eval board -EEPROMs that can be programmed on the eval board by means of a 10 pin JTAG connector.
           Analog Devices - AD9816 12 bit, 6 Msps A/D converter for Kodak Eval board (3 chan A/D but only 1 chan is used for eval board)
           BitFlow - has a Raptor frame grabber board that can accept the 12 bits of differential TTL (RS-422) signal data and the sync signals

Loral - General Description -
Marlow Industries, Inc. -  thermoelectric cooling technology
Melcor - Peltier coolers -
MIT Lincoln Laboratory CCID20 - 2048 x 4096 = 2 ea, 2046x2046 arrays side by side, GTS-2 Telescope,  NEO system detects satellites:  1998 KH17 -
           History of Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) Project (2560x1960 Lincoln Laboratory CCD)
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan CCD Detector Lab -
Mitsubishi - artificial retina - CCD array & image processing in one package 32x32 or 128x128 pixels not intended for astronomy, but who knows?
Orbit -Sunnyvale, CA (800)331-4617  General Description -
Philips - 7k x 9k -
Rockwell & Boing - IR Focal Plane Arrays -
Sanyo - LC9931 - is teaming with Philips on CCD development & production maybe because they both don't have web pages
Scientific Imaging Technologies, Inc. (SITe) (Formerly Tektronix) - SITe 512 x 512 Thermoelectrically Cooled - Tutorial on CCD technology.pdf -
                                                                                    Tektronix  - TK512CB - TK1024M -
Sony Semiconductor - Area Sensor - ICX085AL progressive scan monochrome 2/3" 1300 x 1030, 6.7 x 6.7 um pixels 20 pin DIP pkg. (ICX061?)
Suni Microsystems -
Texas Instruments - Video and Imaging Products - CCD chips - CCD AREA IMAGE SENSORS Family - Device Listing -
           CCD Image Sensors and Analog-to-digital  Conversion -
                             Interlace Operation in TI Virtual-phase CCD Image Sensors -
Thomson-CSF - Area Array -
UCO/Lick Observatory -

CCD Astronomical Cameras

An astronomical camera needs to have provision to cool the CCD chip otherwise the noise for exposure times over a few seconds will degrade the image.  This is the main separator between conventional CCD cameras and astronomical cameras.
Sky & Telescope CCD web pages - introductory material

For very rough cooled Astronomical CCD camera pricing try 1 cent per pixel or $80 per square mm of active area.

CCD Astronomical Cameras Spreadsheet - sorted by Area of a pixel

Adirondack Video Astronomy - Astrovid - Starlight Xpress - CCD Tutorial -
Allthings - Do It Yourself CCD cameras and supplies (not astronomical)
Amber Engineering - 5756 Thornwood Dr Goleta 93117 692-1200 fax 692-1402  - near IR systems
Apogee Instruments, Inc. - white papers - Links - LISAA -
ATM - CCD web page - Comparison of Various CCD Chips -
Axiom - Apogee produced the AX and AX Viper systems sold by Axiom in 1995 and 1996 - Contact Apogee for support of systems sold by Axiom
Black Cat Technology - uses an uncooled chip with special construction giving 0.00009 Lux sensitivety. 1/60 sec per frame 1/5 sec between frames.
                                    A near IR version is in the works.  Only 1 1/4" or "T" mount.
Cohu - 4920 -
Cooled QuickCam  -
Dage-MTI, Inc. - CCD-300T-RC - CCD-300T-IFG - CCD-72 -
Electrim - uncooled, reasonable priced CCD cameras with some astronomical capability but with small chips
Finger Lakes Instrumentation - $3,000 to $5,000 camera + CCD $250 to $15,000. DF1 digital focuser - board sets - Nomographs for 9, 16, 20, 24 um pixels @ATWB -
Hi-SIS - 22  5,000 to 25,00 Italian Lire
Hale Research - EAC512-II for the SITe 512 x 512, Iflex imager -
ISI Systems - The VS1 cameras are cooled integrating digital cameras featuring 12 bit 5 MHz and 14 bit 2 MHz data rates, and support CCD array sizes from 512 X
512 to 4000 X 4000.
Micro Luminetics - $12,000 + nice cameras
Micro Photonics - CCD Camera Systems - straight & Intensified -$24,800 and up, very nice units
PixelVision -
RS Photometrics -
RS Princeton Instruments - CCD imaging products -
SAC - 8 bit monochrome uncooled - in box with 1 1/4" adapter (others available) & USB interface 800x600 & 1024x768 versions, < $250
Santa Barbara Instrument Group - white papers - Drift Scan Imaging the Search for Near-Earth Astroids -
                                                    used a Losmanday G-11 mount needs slow dec slew while RA tracking
                                                    6" f4 Newtonian (8" f6.3 would be better) SBIC ST-6 & custom software
                                                    How would the BRC-250 work with a KAF-1001E CCD?
                                                   Could 4 each KAF-1001E CCDs by used with the space < the CCD size (about 1" square)?
           Digital Integrating Video Camera and Autoguider - long exposure VIDEO camera for astronomy
                                                  Celestron Fastar f1.9 Telescope & ST-6B CCD camera
           Using an ST-6 for Drift Scan Imaging -
                                            SBIG cameras can reach to magnitude 18 in 20 minutes with a 8 to 10 inch telescope
ScopeTronix - Digital Camera Adapter - a clamp for 1 1/4" eyepiece and bracket to hold a camera
Sirius Instruments - uncooled but good for up to 1 minute exposures. 8" scope, 20 sec. exp. gives MAG12.5  (Sanyo 378x240 LC9931 CCD chip) (OUT OF BUS)
Southwest Cryostatics - parts or camera( $9,000 w/o CCD) - for >= 10" scopes
Spectral Instruments -
SpectraSource -    - CCD Specifications table - Teleris CCD Selection - Orbis CCD Selection -
S&U CCD - Germany TI TC-245 chip
TAEYM Digital Vision - dealer in various cameras & accessories
University Optics, Inc. - CCD Cookbook & Supplies -

CCD Software

Clear Sky Institute, Inc. - Unix & Linux astronomical control and analysis software
COMSOFT - software products, a control system called PC-TCS™ for equatorial mounted telescopes and SATPRO™ - an earth orbiting satellite tracking program which can be used in conjunction with PC-TCS™ to accurately track earth orbiting targets.
Cyanogen Productions Inc. - MaxIm DL image processing software
GKR Computer Consulting - fast image acquisition and processing
Rhea Corporation - KestrelTM Systems for CCD Spectroscopy - Catalina Scientific Corp -
Software Bisque - The book "FOSTER" = Focus, Optics, Seeing, Tracking, Experience and Review
                            by Michael Palermiti founded the Palermiti Observatory -
Tpoint Software  - TPOINT analyses pointing observations to discover and measure misalignments and flexures, which the telescope's control system can then allow for.

Satellite Orbit Determination (Search)

I am interested in satellite Orbit Determination (Search) which is different from satellite prediction or tracking where the orbital elements are already known.
I have found these different ways of searching the sky.  There may be more. Different scanning methods would be used depending on the speed of satellite being looked for.  The first method above would use very short exposure times for low orbiting satellites and longer exposure times for higher orbits.
Orbit determination from observations  - compute orbit parameters from observations, aimed at NEOs.

There are trade offs in choosing the parts of a system to do this.

OTA Optical Tube Assembly

24 April 2005 - The KStar Telescope seems ideal for this application and probably was designed for the Air Force to do just this.
It has a 5 degree FOV and uses spherical mirrors (much lower in cost than any thing but a flat mirror) and has an adjustable f number (just the thing to match the CCD array to the seeing conditions.
Oceanit web page with KStar overview -
pdf Brochure describing Scope - 16" model shown but could be between 250 mm and 2 m
Review by the A.F. AMOS Fall 2002 Newsletter
It's either Pat. Pend. or I can't find the patent.

One of the RAVEN A.F. Projects uses the KStar scope and the Paramount Mount and software.

"Raven is not an acronym; the name refers to Odin’s ravens from Norse mythology. A Raven telescope is not a specific configuration of telescope, mount, camera, and computer hardware and software. Raven is the concept of combining commercially available components and integrating them into a system supporting a specific requirement. Just as you can go into a camera store and purchase a system optimized for a specific need, such as telephoto coverage of sporting events, you can configure a Raven telescope system to support a specific mission, such as follow up observations of near-Earth objects."

Raven Automated Small Telescope Systems -
Brief Report on "Informal NEO Meeting" at CfA, July 27, 1997 -

The Richey-Chretien telescope  (Wiki) uses two hyperbolic mirrors and makes a great scope for silicon based imaging, but it's an expensive design and so far I haven't seen them offered with fast f numbers, most are around f/ 10.
RC Optical Systems -

Cassegrain -> uses two parabolic mirrors (Wiki)

The military systems typically use 1 meter scopes with low f ratios and very large CCD arrays.  They are looking for very small objects meaning star MAG numbers that are quite large (maybe MAG 20+).  A system that would do the same job but with a much more conservative visual MAG limit (like MAG 12) should be possible with a much smaller diameter scope.  This implies a refactor telescope so that there is no blocking of the light by objects in the scope.  It also points to using a high quantum efficiency CCD like the SITe series.  The widest possible Field of View (FOV) is very desirable because the time required to search the sky will be reduced.

My interpretation of "all about Telescopes" is that the linear image size of a star in microns (um) is approximately the same as the f ratio.
That is to say that an f 4 OTA will have an image size of 4 um, f8 will be 8 um etc.  The image size is independent of FL if the seeing is perfect.  If a video camera is used with an optical system whose objective diameter <=12" then some frames will have perfect seeing.  To image also requires a mount that can point extremely accurately, the LX-200 can track a satellite as a point of light, and as a fuzzy image (see the Sat Track software).  The Merlin mount or equivalent pointing accuracy type of mount is needed.

For larger diameter objectives or exposure times > 1/100 second the seeing will enlarge the star image to about a few arc seconds to a dozen arc seconds.  In that case the focal length will be the lever that converts the angle into distance.  This is the basis for the recommendations about astronomical CCD camera OTA focal length.

In the GEODSS system at Peterson AFB and other locations: " The main telescopes have a 40-inch ( 1 meter) aperture and a two-degree field of view. The auxiliary telescopes have a 15" aperture and six-degree field of view."
CELESTRON FASTAR 8 - approximatly an f 1.95 Schmidt camera with the camera mounted in front of the scope, but only 30 by 40 minutes of arc field of view.

Astronomical CCD Camera

There is a question in my mind about matching the CCD pixel size to the scope FL (popular for star imaging) or to the f ratio which determines the image size or some other criteria.  The classical 2 pixels per star is based on the appearance of star images.  For this purpose I don't think that is important.  For example for widest FOV there would be many stars per pixel.  If the satellite moved across many pixels during an exposure it would show up as a streak.  If a wide angle lens was used the satellite would be exposing the pixel all the time that it was on that pixel.  If multiple stars were on a single pixel it would just add them up.  I think you would still see the streak because most of the sky is black.  A low orbiting satellite will cross the 5 degree FOV of my binoculars in a few seconds.

For high orbits where satellite movement is slow the time between two or more exposures needs to be long so that blinking will find the satellite.  There is a trade off here between FOV and limiting MAG.

More investigation is needed. - My current thinking is to use a night vision device and conventional TV camera.

If a streak appears that starts or ends at the edge of the frame then you do not know when the satellite started or ended.  If the exact time the exposure was started and stopped is recorded then you will know that the satellite was in the FOV of the frame sometime during the exposure.  If a mechanical shutter is used to block the exposure for a short time every so often then the exact position of the satellite could be determined.

CMOS Cameras

These are based on CMOS memory chips which are much lower in cost than CCD chips.
cmos Video Camera Modules - using the OmniVision chip
OmniVision Technologies, Inc. - OV7110 644x484 B&W data sheet has reference camera design- Eval Modules -
Agilent -  HDCS2000 640 x 480 cmos imager
KBGear Interactive - JamC@m 640x480 VGA digital camera $ 89.99 -
Logitech -USB  QuickCam Express PC video camera - $49.95 MSRP
Xirlink  -USBC-It cameras  $80-$130 depending on software-  IBM PC cameras -

Night Vision Devices (NVD)

Quote about a GEN 3 device "One thing I remember about the instrument is how many moving satellites and aircraft were visible in the night sky. With the naked eye, you don't see these dim moving objects readily, but through the night vision scope, they stand out. The sky was being criss-crossed with them!"

Night Vision Devices have a phosphor very much like early cathode ray tubes (CRT).  And like a CRT they will burn if a bright image is left on the screen for a length of time.  If a NVD is left running in daylight the tube will be permanently damaged.  To fix this just remove the DC power during the daytime.

The NVD has sparkles.  The I3Piece has an optional averager that reduces these.  A better approach would be to have the computer remove them by comparing the prior and following frame to the current frame.  If there is a pixel that is bright but the prior and following pixels are black, then set that pixel to black.  These are the kind of image processing steps that the IMAQ image processing package from LabVIEW is designed to do.

This looks to be a more cost effective way to see dim satellites and also have a wide field of view.

This is an interesting way to see sats.  You do not need night adapted eyes to use the NVD since it has a bright output.  I use my strong (left) eye in the NVD and keep my other (right) eye open and the right eye does get night adapted.  Last night (11/2/99) I saw a sat to the  East about 10 deg above the horizon going to the North, later I saw a formation of 2 sats (should have 3 or 4) going overhead to the South.
1939 - 1945 WWII Vacuum-enveloped photon detectors poor
1960 Vietnam era tri-alkali photocathodes 1,000
early 70's microchannel-plate (MCP) amplifier 20,000
  improved bias voltage and construction  
  sensitivity  to IR & optical  
  no ion -barrier film  
1999 drum to rotate NVD to allow 24 hr use

An Ideal NVD Design for a Staring System to View Satellites or Meteors

Adirondack Video Astronomy - who makes the Astrovid 2000 also has their own DSI-25 which is a Gen 2, 25 mm intensifier for astro-video use & Integral Technologies Flash Bus MV Lite  frame grabbers - slightly less $ than the I3
Alista Ltd.- lower cost products
Allied Signal - Night Vision System  -
B.E. Meyers & Co. - many NVD and IR devices & systems -
Bresser - german
Dedal-NV - Russian manf, English pages - Gen 2, 2+ & 3
Delft Electronic Products BV - manufacturers a line of intensified image sensors
Collins Electro Optics LLC -Real time ccd video using the I3 system - Drawing- Block Diagram - has 18 mm tube system based on a model 2000 - review by Ed Ting & reply Collins reply, Product Images, maybe 1998 vintage
Astrovid video camera - a 42mm FL camera lnes (I have the AF Nikor 35-70mm 1:2.8D zoom lens already) will give a 1 inch = 1 degree FOV on a 15" monitor!  For the 8.4x9.4 micron pixel in the Astrovid 2000 a lens working at f 8 or f9 would produce an image about 1 pixel in size. Sky & Telescope Review - uses Fast
a 50 mm f1.3 objective lens is now available @ $250 for the I3 system (see Sky & Tel Dec. 99)
ITT Industries Night Vision - how light-amplifying works -
Edmond Scientific - has a C-mount & T-mount  modular system of lens holders and relay lens that may make the basis for a system similar to the I3.
EEV - also repair & repair equipment
Electrophysics Corp. - AstroScope 9350 - is an 18mm system very similar to the I3PIECE but much more expensive
Excalibur Electro Optics, Inc. - good selection of tubes
First Defense Systems, Inc.-
Fort Rucker - US Army - Library with many on line manuals -
GSCI - low cost products
Hamamatsu - many years in photo optical business, excellent products - Image Intensifiers (many types)
ITT Night Vision -
ITT - Image Intensifier Tubes - AN/PVS-14 - variable gain, GEN3, camera adapters $3,495
Kalimex - night vision devices Czech Republic, difficult ordering - long waits -very iffy - no response to email -
Lan Optics International - Russian optics
Laser King - ITT price list - AMT prices -
Litton- Poly-Scientific (comercial products) - NightVision CCTV light intensifiers - @ NightLine - M944
Litton Electro-Optical Systems - Image Intensifier Tubes - M944 - modular system (M942 GEN2, M944 GEN3)
MOD-3 ASTRO C-Mount Night Vision Monocular - At Ultimate Night Vision - is a version of the AN/PVS-14 that accepts a C-Mount adapter in place of the normal objective lens, thus can be used at the back of a telescope at prime focus, not afocal mounting. Maybe 2004 vintage. Similar to the Collins EO I3.
Multimedia model AV Master 2000  frame grabber & software -
nightline - M944 Night Vision Pocketscope by L-3 EOS
Nightquest -ITT dealer
Night Vision - official ITT web page
Night Vision Devices - More Information - Links -
Night Vision Systems -
Night-Vision Goggles Operations Weather Software - Air Force
Night Vision Mall -
Night Vision Optics - a division of RTC Inc, Iowa, USA - looks like mostly GEN1+ tubes, maybe imports
Night Vision Systems Fleet Support Team - Navy - AN/AVS-6, MXU-810/U, AN/AVS-9
Micro Video (TM) Products  - Night Vision Equipment - ITT 160DX
Optics HQ - many brands & types of NV devices
Proxitronic - German company, English web pages NVD & cameras fitted with NVD
 EL4 camera with  electron multiplying CCD sensor
Raso Rod & Rifle - carries ITT night vision devices with prices on the web-
Sagem - electro-optic technology
Seiler's Electro-Optical - day & night weapon sight with either straight tube or image intensifier
Sovietski Collection - I got the T3C-3 device ($143+). Although it is claimed to have a 13.7 deg. field of view, outside the center 5 deg it is very fuzzy on stars.  The relative brightness of the stars is maintained so star hopping is easy.  Since the tube looks like a capacitor, just a press of the trigger keeps the tube going for minutes.  You do not need to hold it all the time.  I have asked about the out of focus condition and the preliminary response is that this is normal.  At the very center of the FOV there are sparkles but they are not objectionable.  The number of stars that can be seen is greater in the center 5 deg. than what you would see in the Orion 9x63 binoculars.  I think that the objective optics are not focusing on the tube causing the fuzziness.  A good system would use an objective that was a 35 mm camera lens (i.e. it is designed for good focus over a diameter of about an inch.).  This appears to have a tube with 1" input and 1/2" output.  Since it is Russian it must be GEN2 or below.
Spy World -
STANO Components - Night Vision SystemsAN-PVS4 - modular system - SC/PVS-200 - uses 35mm camera lens ( included?)  & c-mount output
Star Lazer -
Star-Tron Technology Corporation - 900 Freeport Road - Pittsburg, PA 15238 - comprehensive line of scope systems! - Chapter 11 -
Tasco - night vision -
Zeiss -

Scientific CCD Cameras

Camera Interface Guide by Matrox - talks about various standard & non-standard video formats
These cameras typically have square pixels and higher resolution that a TV format video camera.  They typically use RS-170 Video format.
Graftek - software company thathandles cameras, frame grabbers, optics, etc.

Scientific - Industrial -Security CCD cameras - spreadsheet

If only the RS-170 (or CCIR) analog camera output is fed to the frame grabber then there can be a pixel of jitter due to timing variations.  If a digital output camera is used the correspondence between each pixel and the data will always be the same, but for more money.  I much lower cost way to lock the data to the pixel is to get an optional pixel clock output from the camera to sync the frame grabber.

If RS-170 format is used a S-VHS VCR will record hours of images with very high quality and allow freeze frame playback into the frame grabber, but without the pixel clock.

Direct recording of the frame grabber to the hard drive is possible using specialized video workstation computers.  Optionally direct recording to computer RAM from the frame grabber is also possible, but with limited time capability.  If the computer is fast enough it might be albe to extract the moving objects.

Frame Grabbers

In order to analyze the data from a staring video camera you need to be able to stream the video onto hard disk.  The low resolution B&W images involved here should not tax the hard drive.  For full color streaming video Ultra Wide SCSI drives are recommended.  To get the required camera to RAM or Disk transfer speed most frame grabbers use the PCI buss with "bus mastering".
Pulnix - Frame Grabber Compatability chart -
Alacron - Basic FastFrame - includes some image processing right on the board
BitFlow -
Coreco -
Data Translation - DT3152 $995 -DT3155 $695 -
D a t a c u b e - rejected because they require registration to see their on line data
Engineering Design Team - digital video frame grabbers, not analog
EPIX - 4MEG VIDEO Model 12 has on board 12 MIPS TMS320C25 DSP
Foresight Imaging (Imagraph) - I-25 -
Imaging Technology Incorporated - PCVision - $1250
Imperx - Frame Grabbers for laptops
Integral Technologies - FlashBus model MV Lite -  used by Adirondack Video Astronomy - $395
Mikrotron - Inspecta-2 - 24 bit - Industrial Cameras -
MuTech - M-Vision 500 $500 -
Visicom - hi power FG & image processing
Ronald A. Massa Associates -
National Instruments - PCI-1407 - 8-bit RS-170 & CCIR Monochrome PCI buss frame grabber $695
           PCI-1422 - 8,10,12,14,&16 bit RS-422 & analog inputs $1295 - both can stream video to disk
Snappy Video Frame Grabber - $100 -but can only capture a single frame to the PC
Snap Magic Frame Grabber - a single frame grabber
Matrox - Meteor-II Family is used by the Metor people and has software app support - Camera Interface by Manf - can stream video to disk

Video Software

Cognitech - Video Investigator -

Low Light TV Cameras

This is a much more economical approach than image intensifiers.  There are a number of ways that the light gathering capability of a TV camera can be made lower:
  • Chip design
    The PC104 camera runs a normal frame rates with good low light sensivity.
    1004x board camera can be modified for astronomical use
  • Stacking images - where the stacking is done after the observation
  • Stacking images in the camera - like with the Mintron cameras - but this method is not suitable for fast moving satellites
Note that there are two different images possible:
  1. Satellite appears as a point of light which is the easiest and can be done using video or 35 mm camera lens on TV camera.
  2. Imaging the shape of a satellite which requires an astronomical scope and tracking mount, although some have been able to use non motorized mounts.  After the observation each video frame is examined to find the ones where the seeing was good.

GOTO Equatorial Mount

The relative accuracy of the mount needs to be matched to the FOV of a single pixel.  For declination scanning the mount needs to support multiple scan rates in declination.  The mount must be able to easily carry the OTA and camera while still providing very good tracking.  Some people feel that the mount is THE most important part of a CCD imaging system.  While compiling the spreadsheet below I found that the pointing accuracy, or whatever it's called,  specification on mounts is not at all standardized and in many cases is not specified.  That makes it difficult to tell which mount is giving the best performance for the money.

There are some web pages where an image of some satellites can be seen.  In all of the other satellite viewing cases the satellite shows up as a point source of light with some brightness variation.

The Mead hand controllers can only be used for leap frog tracking, but the LX-200 (and a couple of mounts that have full LX-200 emulation) will also allow continuos tracking so that video imaging can be done usingSatTrack software.

Because of atmospheric "seeing" effects 99 out of 100 frames will be blurred.  By searching the video tape frame by frame a good image may be found.  Note that because of "seeing" you can NOT use a scope larger than 12" and that's the size used for the web imaged photos.

The newer Mead LX-200GPS scopes hae not yet been qualified with SatTrack (19 Aug 2002) but the older LX200 scopes will do continous tracking.  Most all other socpes can only do leap frog tracking.

May 30, 2003 - the LX-200GPS still is not where it need to be in terms of firmware.  Also the GPS can not update the computer clock with enough precision.  Note that a satellite will pass through the FOV of an astronomical scope that has enough magnification to image the sat in a fraction of a second.  If the computer clock is off by that fraction of a second then  you will not see the sat.

Mounts HTML Spreadsheet with web links

Home Made Mounts

German Equatorial Mount Project -
precision machine from junk -
Amateur Telescope Makers (ATM) ARCHIVES -
Rob Hunt's ALT-AZ Page -
Idea - use car/truck axles, housing & center section & maybe add better bearings
Anssen Technologies - Mounts - AT4000 drive controler -
Sidereal Technology - controller for Pittman 8000 series DC Brush servo motors -
Ametek (Pittman, MAE) - Motors - AC Synchronous, DC Brush, DC Brushless, Stepper 


As far as I know there is not any amateur software available for Satellite Orbit Determination (Search).
Bester Tracking Systems -Unix software SatTrack Version 4.1.6 - working on Orbit Determination software system
Earth Orbiting Satellite Tracking Capabilities using Steward Observatory's 90 and 61 Inch Telescopes - 3 people & 2 computers

Imaging Satellites

When a satellite is "tracked" using a telescope you see just a dot of light, like a fast moving star.  Imaging takes much more magnification and a very smooth mount.  The ideal case is a professional mount on a good pier.  Some of the best images from Ron Dantowitz were taken in the daytime.

Astro Spider - hobby garage equipment and very good results.
RC Optical Systems - High Speed Cinematography... - truly amazing video of  747-200 at 36,000 feet at 1,000 frames/second!
John Locker - Satcom images & video SIGINT.
Ron Dantowitz -  has not been up the last few times I've checked it - Meade OTA, better mount
Visual Satellite Observer's Home Page -


CCD Web Pages

Automated CCD camera Searches

Near Earth Objects

Automated Asteroid Search - T. Wesley = combines DC3 for LX-200 control, Cyanogen Productions MaxIm DL/CCD for CCd control & PinPoint Astrometry Engine for plate position analysis then micro jog the LX-200 for extremely precise pointing
BAO Schmidt CCD Asteroid Program (SCAP) -
NEO Search Programs - links to CCD automated telescope search programs
Catalina Sky Survey - classical Schmidt design with a 69 cm spherical f/1.78 mirror
Japanese Spaceguard Association (JSGA) - 1-meter telescope, whose field of view is 3 degrees . . . mosaic of 12 CCD detectors each one of which will have dimensions of 2096 x 4096 pixels
Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) - CCD cameras for finding comets
Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search (LONEOS) -
Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT)  - classic 1.2-meter- diameter (48-inch) Oschin Schmidt telescope - photos -
OCA-DLR Asteroid Survey (ODAS) - 0.9 meter aperture Schmidt telescope, equipped with a 2096 x 2096 CCD
OH5IY - amateur radio & meteors + MS-Soft (Meteor shower Software) - Meteor Video Camera Project - Meteor Burst Communications The Gap Filler -
Sandia All-sky Camera Bolide Detection Network - Woodinville WA - hemishperical mirror & TV camera runs 24h x 7 days
Spacewatch 1.8-meter and 0.9-meter telescopes on Kitt Peak -
Minor Planet Mailing list -

Comets & Meteors

Analysis of Video Meteors - Hardware requirements for video observations - Meteor Astronomy Links -
NASA Near Earth Objects - comets, asteroids, etc.
Computer-Aided Astronomy - comet and asteroid astrometry - CAA System Requirements - CCD Astrometry Freeware -
Chapter 5: Observing Technique - Radio -
International Meteor Organization (IMO) - Video Observation of Meteors - Image Intensifier & TV camera system - good articles - M O V I E -
Mount Allison Meteor Group -
R_Meteor - PC DSP radio detection
Spectrogram Downloads - just a PC based audio spectrograph

Northern Light (Auroras)

FMI All-Sky Cameras - Image Intensifier & TV camera system

Variable Stars

StarDial- CCD w/ 50mm-f2 camera lens drift scanning the night sky
TASS, The Amateur Sky Survey - looking for new variable stars with drift scan CCD cameras - typically a small field of view

Satellite Searches

Full-sky Astrometric Mapping Explorer (FAME) - The CCDs will be  used in a time-delayed integration (TDI) mode to synchronize the charge transfer with the rotation of the spacecraft.
Hipparcos - Design -  two photomultiplier tubes
Hubble Space Telescope -
AAVSO Network to Search for Optical Counterparts of Gamma-Ray Bursts - which are found with the BATSE (Burst and Transient Source experiment) instrument aboard the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory satellite - but they need CCD equipped telescopes to look for the after glow.


All You Want to Know About CCD's - Orange County Astronomers - Coast Community College Dist. -
AO ( Active Optics ) for Amateur Imaging - using "fast" guiding to correct for seeing
Astro Imaging Hints Page -
Rick's - Amateur Astrophotography and CCD Image Links - to many pages with CCD mages
astccd - What u see -
AstroCam -using Connectix QuickCam for astronomy - TC255 - 324x243 10µm square pixels
Audine - KAF-400 Cookbook French - English - Canada - England-many star photos taken with a Cannon FL=300mm f4 camera lens. F4 -> 170 u"->4.3 um image size - Personal Upgrades & Modifications - Electromechanical Shutter - Genesis CCD is a newer version of the Audine
BlackBoxCameraTM Company Limited - uses the STV5730A and a PIC16F84 to add text to video.
CCD Astronomy and few other things - Eddie T.
CCD Atlas On Line
CCDTalk - on line forum for Fastar 237 camera
CCD-world mailing list is an electronic forum for the discussion of all matters relating to the development of CCDs and SWIR detectors for professional astronomical purposes
Charles Genovese' Astrovideography  -
Chuck Faranda's CCD Astrophotography -
David Haworth- Astronomical Observing with Cameras - CCD Astroimaging Web Resources -
Digitized Sky Survey search - SIMBAD astronomical database -Set of Identifications, Measurements, and Bibliography for Astronomical Data
Earth and Sky Adventure Products -
Ed Cannon - Visually Observing Satellites - ISS photo by LX200 -
ESO - Optical Detector Team -
Fourier and the Frequency Domain -
Half Moon Obs. - Tak FSQ106
High Resolution Images of the Moon & Planets on Video Tape -
Horita - SMPTE time code generator - PWC -$229 - inserts time code into video vert. interval, not on the screen - more accurate
Images of Earth´s satellite by Philipp Salzgeber -
Imaging Solutions web site - LabVIEW Webring - Graftek Imaging -
In situ CCD testing -by Tim Abbott - Links -
Intermediate CCD Astroimaging Books -
Jean-Francois Mourron's QuickCam Lunar-Planetary Images -
Jim Ferreria's Video Capture Astrophotography Page -
KAF400 is 9x9 um pixel so OK.  - Association des Utilisateurs de Détecteurs Electroniques -
Kitty 237 - French do it yourself CCD camera
K. Okano - author of Digital Eye - Logical Approach to the PHOTO QUALITY - how to process a CCD image so that it looks like a film image
Marshall Electronics - security CCD &  CMOS TV cameras & related
Melles Griot - shutters
Mobile Astronomical Society - Art of Astrovideography -
Moon Imaging with a Color QuickCam VC -
NASA - Pulse Tube Refrigeration - Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) Imaging Arrays - a lot of CCD information
network of Active Bay Area Observers-
NuCore - 3-CCD color quality to 1-CCD cameras at 50 megapixels per second and 12-bit resolution
Optec MAXfield -  0.33X telecompressor
Optical Guidance Systems - builder & dealer - Takashi, Takashi Mounts, OGS Mounts -
Patrol CCTV - Weatherproof pan-tilt CCTV that mounts to Thule roof rack or under house eves
Polaris Industries - security CCD &  CMOS TV cameras, Pan/Tilt & related
QuickSet - MIL-2001 combined mount & Hitachi CCD camera with continous 360 deg pan +/- 95 deg tilt
Regulus - on line astronomy newsletter
Richard Berry - Cookbook CCD Camera - Choosing And Using A CCD Camera - Introduction to Astronomical Image Processing  -
Ron Dantowitz's Skyshow - Sharper Images Through Video -
ScanCam - home made line scan camera for Sun & Moon
SDSU Astronomy Department CCD Lab -
Silicon Sky -
Sivo Scientific Company - spectrograph that can work with your CCD camera
Sky Publishing - Optimizing a CCD Imaging System By Alan Holmes
Steve Massey's Astronomy Page -
Steward Observatory CCD Laboratory -
SuperCircuits - PC23C (0.04 lux & $80) -  Topica TP-505D/3 (
True Technology, Ltd. - @Adirondack Video Astronomy. -
Touring The Solar System With Your Video Camera -
Toyama Astronomical Observatory - video of ISS using their 1 meter reflector -
Univ of Oregon - Evolving Towards The Perfect CCD -
Universal WebCam Adapter - 0.6 Focal Reducer for C Mount to 1.25" or 0.965 Eyepiece adapter & 0.3 extender
Video Capture Astrophotography  -
Video Astrophotography E-Mail Discussion Group - links - FAQs -
Wayne's Amateur Astronomy Page -
William McLaughlin - Informational Pages -
Wil Milan's Astrophoto Equipment - he says "Takahashi Epsilon 130 is an extremely fast (f/3.3) Newtonian-focus astrograph capable of extremely high resolution"  this is consistant with my idea about the f number being equal to the image size in microns.

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