Planetary Imaging Cameras

Cameras for planetary imaging have a very different set of requirements than those of deep space imaging cameras. This may seem counter intuitive at first, but Planetary rely very heavily on frame rate and small pixel size, whereas deep space cameras require greater dynamic range for longer exposures. Planetery imagers are actually video cameras where CMOS sensor technoldy is clearly dominant.

The planets are very bright objects from an astronomical perspective, so long exposures are not necessary. Anyone who has spent any time observing the planets at high magnification knows that they tend to slip in an out of focus do to turbulence in the atmosphere, which is a phenomena that astronomers refer to as "seeing." Using a video camera with a fast frame rate allows you to quickly gather many individual photo frames, some of which will be in sharp focus while others are not. Most planetary cameras are supplied with Registax image processing software, which is capable of sifting through video frames to separate the good frames from the bad, and automatically stack the good frames to create a composite image.

  • Celestron NexImage 5 Solar System Imager
  • Celestron NexImage 5 Solar System Imager

  • High resolution planetary imaging has never been easier. The Celestron Neximage 5 will make you look like a pro! read more...
  • Our price: $155.00

  • RRP: $159.95
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  • Celestron Neximage 10
  • Celestron Neximage 10

  • Capture clear and detailed planetary images with more than ten million 1.67 micron pixels coupled with high speed USB 3.0 data transmission. read more...
  • Our price: $244.00

  • Celestron NexImage Burst NexImage Burst Color
  • Celestron NexImage Burst NexImage Burst Color

  • Capture high-resolution planetary, lunar and solar images with the NexImage Burst Solar System Imager. read more...
  • Our price: $199.95

  • Celestron Skyris 132 Color CMOS Planetary Imager
  • Celestron Skyris 132 Color CMOS Planetary Imager

  • Skyris 132 features Aptina’s AR0132 sensor which offers the perfect combination of speed, sensitivity, and value. read more...
  • Our price: $299.95

  • Orion StarShoot Solar System Color Imaging Camera IV
  • Orion StarShoot Solar System Color Imaging Camera IV

  • The fourth generation planetary imaging camera provides an affordable way to acquire stunning astrophotos of our neighbors in the solar system read more...
  • Our price: $79.00

CMOS based cameras have two primary advantages over their CCD counterparts that are important to planetary imaging. First, they require far less power, meaning they can be powered directly through the USB port of their supporting PC or tablet device. Second, the readout speed of a CMOS sensor is far greater than that of a CCD sensor, which is essential to achieving high frame rates. The higher the frame rate, the greater the probability of catching in-focus frames during those fleeting moments of excellent seeing conditions.

While not important from a technical perspective, CMOS sensors are far more economical to produce than CCD sensors. As a result, the very best planetary imaging cameras cost less than the least expensive CCD cameras available today. Given the extremely short exposures involved, there is also no reason to worry about the added cost of an autoguider and guide scope; altazimuth mounts are perfectly suitable for plantetary imaging so long as they are capable of tracking the target.

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