Instant Imaging of the Moon

  • Antony Cooke
Part of the Patrick Moore's Practical Astronomy Series book series (PATRICKMOORE)

For imaging the Moon, there is at least one absolute fact: There is simply no method that quite duplicates the sight and visual impact of the live view through the telescope, despite its proximity and any logical expectation for easy imaging of an object so accessible. Indeed, no image, be it photographic, CCD, CCD video, or web cam, via any telescope on Earth, ever quite seems to equal the stunning real-time presence of the Moon in the field of view. And this applies not only to views seen through grand apertures. The great globe hangs massively in near space, pockmarked at the terminator (the divide between lunar day and night) by a maze of apparently sharply cut formations. This exaggerated relief, of course, is responsible for all of our prior misconceptions of lunar “jaggedness,” and it appears in the eyepiece to be almost three dimensional, despite being only two! This is in addition to the diamond sharp and incredibly tiny subtleties of detail that our eyes seem uniquely designed to make out. These special qualities remain illusive in imaging, regardless of the aperture used; even with lesser resolutions of smaller telescopes, all of these visual attributes remain present in the live view! Although the best in recent technology certainly allows us to record the Moon's appearance better than ever before (revealing astonishing detail at times), even such advanced imaging still comes up short! However, we are getting much closer.

If time is not on your side, by examining the various imaging choices available (certainly quite extensive), you will soon see that your options are none too many. So, what is viable for us, with time restraints ever present? The images in this volume were taken using the simplest, most effective imaging method possible (CCD video) that was capable, nevertheless, of producing fine results. Although not quite in the “big league” represented in the best imaging today, the approach enables rapidly produced detailed images and preserves the directness of the viewing experience. As with all types of imaging, only when the conditions are favorable will the results be the most detailed and pleasing, sometimes surprisingly so. Hopefully these images, made under a variety of circumstances, will serve further to inspire you once again to spend a little time with the Moon, even if you are restricted by a busy schedule. You may even wish to try your hand at a little instant lunar imaging.


Video Stream Large Aperture Pixel Saturation Small Telescope Focal Ratio 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

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  • Antony Cooke

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