*  Info about our other book, Atlas of the Southern Night Sky *

Deep-Sky Video Astronomy

Steve Massey and Steve Quirk


2009. Approx. 240 p. 52 illus., 34 in colour.   

(Patrick Moore's Practical Astronomy Series - Softcover

 - ISBN 978-0-387-87611-5 -    RRP 34,95 -  US$34.95  -  SFr. 58.50  -  22.99

This book is for anyone interested in astronomical observations with modern video cameras and is the perfect follow-on companion to Video Astronomy - revised version also authored by Steve Massey, along with Thomas Dobbins and Eric Douglas.

It extends on the typical use of video for lunar and planetary observations to full deep-sky viewing and imaging. It covers the technical side of popular devices and how to set-up and use them for deep-sky observations and imaging. A major chapter describes all the basic image processing techniques needed to transform video recordings into wonderful deep-sky images. Several other branches of astronomical observing with video are mentioned to round out the many uses of these versatile cameras.

Chapter 1 - Using Video for Astronomy 

Describes why this technology is well suited to astronomical observations and how video works.

Chapter 2 - Cameras

This chapter delves deeper into the frame accumulation type cameras and there typical control systems.

Chapter 3 - Video Capture

How do you record a video signal. Explains recording software, aspect ratio, resolution, bit depth and capture rates.

Chapter 4 - At the Telescope

What you should do at the telescope. Using filters, making dark frames and flat fields. How long should you record.

Chapter 5 - Initial Processing

The all important stage of getting images from a video recording. How to stack frames and apply dark frames and flat fields.

Chapter 6 - Final Processing

How to bring out all the detail captured in your video recordings. Step by step procedures show exactly what is require to enhance video images.
Procedures for levels enhancement, unsharp making, making colour from filtered B&W images, removing artifacts and blending multi-field frames.

Chapter 7 - Other Video Applications

A brief look at other astronomical applications for integrating type video cameras.

Chapter 8 - The Gallery

A showcase of images to inspire, yes, you too can produce great shots like these from your Deep-Sky video camera.



    Deep-Sky Video Astronomy is a concise guide to using modern integrating video cameras for deep-sky viewing and imaging with the kinds of modest telescopes available commercially to amateur astronomers. It includes an introduction and a brief history of the technology, camera types, etc. The authors then examine the pros and cons of this unrefrigerated yet highly efficient technology, which is already beginning to compete with expensive astronomical cooled-chip CCD cameras in quality and ease of use. There is a thorough examination of accessories used to achieve particular results. Examples are focal reducers, Barlow lenses, and optical filters. However, the focus is mostly on the practical side of creating beautiful and detailed astronomical portraits using image stacking software, enhancement tools like PhotoShop, and creating colour images with a black-and-white camera. Practical step-by-step examples supported by tried and trusted tips show how to achieve the best possible deep-sky video portrait!... more on http://springer.com/978-0-387-87611-5

    Explains how video cameras can be used to create high-res images with your telescope in real-time, even from light-polluted areas Shows how to image the night sky easily using a video camera - a no-fuss step-by-step approach, Describes how the reader can make a scientific contribution using only a small telescope and video technology, and how to improve celestial portraits using popular software or even freeware.

Astronomy Now Online...

This is a very practical book from which even the most experienced video astronomers will be able to learn and gain new ideas for their deep-sky videography. Massey and Quirk help their readers to understand the nature of video and video cameras and in the first two chapters, CCD image sensors, interlaced TV images, video resolution and colour versus monochrome sensors are explained.

Although there is passing reference to the image-streaming Imaging Source cameras, they are largely irrelevant to the subject of this book as they do not produce either composite or S-video output that can be recorded on VCRs or DVD. Instead they produce an image stream via a USB 2.0 or a Firewire interface that requires a computer, neither are they constrained to the resolutions of PAL or NTSC TV standards.

The book is based around the GSTAR-EX, an Australian Mintron- based video camera. Although mention is made of other cameras, the authors have wisely concentrated on what can be done with basic frame-accumulating cameras without costly modifications.

A strength of this book is that throughout it is a 'how to' text explaining how to make colour images using colour filters, how to do initial and final processing, how to use image-processing software to bring out image detail, and what the software filters such as levels and gamma actually do. Advice is given on the practicalities of capturing images to computer and suggestions on good free software that will capture frames from frame-accumulating cameras at the correct rate to avoid the capture of duplicate frames.

An extensive gallery of beautiful images obtained with the basic Mintron- derived camera will give the reader inspiration and confidence to try it for themselves. This is a book that should have its place in the library of every amateur astronomer who has an interest in real-time viewing and imaging with video.

Steve Wainwright    

BAA website...

The main tenet of this book is that it is possible to produce outstanding images of deep sky objects using CCD video cameras. These cameras are a spin-off from the security CCTV industry, where extreme sensitivity is required for low light conditions. They are well suited to astronomical imaging but, through mass production, are cheaper than integrating CCDs.

Since these cameras run at standard video frame rates, multiple frames can be captured, stacked, and processed to produce images approaching the quality of integrating CCDs. The book follows the format of other textbooks on integrating CCDs, but emphasising the differences of video CCDs. It starts by explaining the workings of different types of video CCD chips. Then the different types of camera are described. The authors restrict themselves to frame accumulating cameras. These operate at normal video rates but, like integrating CCDs, can also be set to accumulate video frames, making them suitable for deep sky imaging. Popular makes described are the Watec, Mintron, Stellacam, and GSTAR-EX. The latter, available in Australia, is used as their main example, but the concepts apply to the other cameras. Brief reference is made to 'The Imaging Source' cameras and webcams but neither is covered further, as neither have composite video outputs.

Chapter three covers video capture to PCs including digitisation hardware and software. However the description of some topics is so detailed it may confuse the reader rather than clarify. Chapter four explains the telescope/ camera interface - real-time display, focal reducers, filters, and dark and flat frames. The next two chapters cover image processing in very great detail in similar style to standard image processing texts. There is a disappointingly short chapter covering other applications such as occultation timing, meteor recording, and telescope guiding. Finally, there is a Gallery of deep sky images, and a comprehensive glossary.

The authors are well known for their astronomical imaging. Steve Massey is the author or co-author of many astronomical publications. Steve Quirk has been an avid astrophotographer for nearly 30 years, with his images appearing in many periodicals and books. The authors cram in a huge amount of technical detail covering every aspect of imaging with these cameras. The book is profusely illustrated, with diagrams and images on most pages.

The book is written in a free flowing narrative style with few errors. It is recommended for those interested in starting video imaging, and experienced imagers should find much of interest in the detail.

Andrew Elliott    

Andy Elliott is a retired veterinarian with a lifelong obsession in astronomy. In the late 1980s he was a pioneer in the use of CCD video cameras for precision timing of occultations, and is currently the Association's Occultation Coordinator.


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