1st Astro Video Light

by Nick Biunno

Last night I had first light with a new video camera. The camera model is 12V1E EX-View video camera from Mintron hooked up to a MEADE SN-10" and a high res b/w monitor. Working from my patio the first stop was Jupiter. At f/4, 8 and 16 the views were nice but could be much better. Also tried f/32 but the rig is not ready for that yet. There was so much light, even at the high mags, I had the AGC off and no frame integration. And then there was still to much light. Was going to attenuate the light more with some filter combo's but Jupiter move out of the field of view from my patio.

While waiting for Mars I next started hunting for M3 and M53. I found M53 through a 25 mm eyepiece and it appeared as a nice faint and fuzzy. Switched the eyepiece out for the camera and focused working at prime focus. When M53 finally came into focus I was totally shocked. The detail of the core of the cluster took my breath away. I would have been happy with half of the detail I was seeing in real time. Keep in mind that seeing from my patio under the best conditions is not very good with a street light literally staring straight into my eyes and the OTA. I don't know how long I was staring into the monitor at M53 but I totally forgot about Mars last night. Finally stop staring at the monitor when the cloud layer got to thick and washed out the detail. Basics camera specs for M53 were AGC-off and between 48 to 96 frames of integration. (each level of integration brought out different detail in this globular cluster). Nice feature.

Star collimation is going to be a breeze with this setup and I'm going to start recording star diffraction patterns per observing session as a gage of the seeing conditions along with the quality of the optics.

I highly recommend the Mintron 12V1 with the EX-View chip to anyone interested in astro-video. But if you are thinking about getting the 12V1 you may want to wait. Mintron has come out with a 12V3 model with up to 256 frames of integration (how deep do you want to go?), motion detection (how many meteorites did you count?) and a DIM to RS-232 connection for PC hook ups. I am not sure yet if the V3 will be offered with the EX-View ccd chip.

This rig and setup is not quite portable yet, but can't wait until Meifong and I take it to some really clear skies.