Saturday, October 5, 2013

New Camera!

Here's an image of the cloudy skies over my home taken yesterday night with my new ZWO Optical ASI 120MC. The image is a 30-second exposure. The Summer Triangle stars Vega (top right), Deneb (top left) and Altair (bottom) are clearly visible. You can also see from the treeline why I had to build Walnut Ridge Observatory--there's not a lot of sky visible through the foliage!

The camera comes packed in a pleasing box and has a really useful accessory--a removable 180 degree all-sky lens (which I used to take the picture above).
The Camera Box
The Camera and Fisheye Lens

The camera has a very respectable QE of 55, is capable of high framerates at reduced resolutions (up to 65FPS) and can handle single exposures of up to 1024 seconds. The I120 is not cooled, which means long exposures can be noisy. However, I plan on adding a removable peltier cooler to the back of the case. For less than $25 extra, I'll get very superior performance. The camera also comes in a monochrome version. While the monochrome camera has some advantages (no Bayer Matrix and slightly higher sensitivity), the cost of adding a filter wheel was prohibitive, so I opted for the color version, which will do pretty much everything I need in a single shot. I'll post more on the mods, as well as more images (when the inevitable clouds clear).