Wednesday, 23 January 2008

A possible breakthrough

I was looking back at my attempts to focus on a CD across the garden for practice. I was struck by how much more fuzzy the LPI image was than how it looked through the telescope. I also compared some images I'd taken with the digital camera held up to the eyepiece compared with the LPI camera. I'd also found images others had taken on the web with the LPI camera, and they all looked far better than my images. OK - some of them had much better telescopes than mine, but not all of them had.

So during yet another wet day, I took a careful look at the LPI camera. There isn't that much to it really. There is a dust cap to take off, and that's it. If you look down the tube, you can just about see a small electrical chip, but there is no lens or anything.

So anyway, I wondered how the digi camera would compare with the Meade LPI, if my hunch that the digital camera was outperforming the LPI direct by some stretch.

So - another set up, focusing on the same CD. I took a short digi film through a reasonably high powered eyepiece. Then I got out the LPI again. I had another quick look at it, and wondered if there was a possibility there might be some dust or something on the CCD. Just in case I pushed one end of the lens cleaning cloth gently down the tube and gave a gentle twist just in case.

Then I fired up the laptop and got the software running. A few tweaks on the new flexible focusing knob, and I was astonished. The image was vastly better than before. There was so much detail evident I could hardly believe it. I mean - just compare the before and after:


I mean - tell that isn't at least 100% better!

I didn't even bother taking the movie off the camera for comparison. Of course now I'm itching to try this out on something celestial, but the weather is not cooperating. There was a brief patch of clear sky monday night, and I rushed to get the telescope out and set up. Even as I was carrying out though the 4 or 5 stars I could see were fading. By the time I had it ready, there was a slow drizzle which gradually got worse until it was full rain.

Sigh, this waiting lark is tough!

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