Astrophotography with the camera board

Cristos Vasilas from Dash One, a lover of astronomy and electronics, has been trying out the Raspberry Pi camera board as an astrophotography tool. He’s captured some amazingly sharp, short video of the moon, and of Saturn, rings clearly visible, swinging across the sky.

Cristos used foam packing material to attach the camera board to the eyepiece of his telescope, and mounted the Pi on the barrel of the telescope with velcro.

He says: “A dedicated Celestron 5M pixel imager costs $200, and I doubt it is nearly as versatile as the rPi.” Since filming the images above, Cristos has also discovered that a group of telescope enthusiasts have released code enabling the Pi to drive Stellarium, the planetarium software that tells the telescope where to point, so he can also lose the laptop from the kit needed to take photos like this in the future. If you haven’t played with Stellarium yet, you really should; several of us here at the Foundation are big fans and use it regularly – you don’t need a telescope to enjoy it.

Cristos says he has more work to do on exposure, gain, contrast and so on, and we hope he’ll be posting the results on his blog.

Updated to add: Cristos took some more video and stills of Saturn, this time with a 6mm lens, making the pictures even larger. They’re amazing – you can very clearly see the gap in the rings, and the shadow cast on the planet by the rings. Check them out.

We’ve found that there’s enormous potential in bringing down the cost of amateur photography – of all kinds – as a hobby with the Pi, whether or not you’re using the camera board. Check out these earlier posts if you’re interested in finding out more.