Celestron Neximage 5: first light

I do enjoy photography, and it was astrophotography which got me interested in astronomy and telescopes. I am not as interested in visual observation, as there is no picture which results from this – only a verbal or written description of what was seen. I have been interested in planetary imaging but not had the right camera for this. Hence I decided to change all this and get the Celestron Neximage 5.

I ordered this camera on eBay and it arrived in about 10 days. I was rather surprised at how small the box was, never mind the camera.

Celestron Neximage 5MP CMOS camera
Celestron Neximage 5MP CMOS camera
The camera sealed in foil packaging, with a C-mount to 1.25" adapter
The camera sealed in foil packaging, with a C-mount to 1.25″ adapter

The camera is very lightweight and should not put stress on the telescope mount. As I would need the laptop close to me for viewing the image for adjusting focus, the length of the USB cable was sufficiently long.

Camera, 1/25" adapter and USB cable
Camera, 1/25″ adapter and USB cable

The sensor measures 5.7 x 4.28mm in size (only 7mm diagonally) and being so small, is very suitable for planetary imaging as there will be more pixels covering each subject than with most other cameras without using a Barlow or Powermate. Each pixel although is very small at 2.2 micron, the camera allows for binning to create larger pixels (2×2 or 4×4) to improve signal gain with lower resolution images.

Very small sensor with 2.2 micron pixel size
Very small sensor with 2.2 micron pixel size
Camera with 1.25" adapter attached
Camera with 1.25″ adapter attached

¬†Anyway, these are my first attempts at imaging Jupiter with this camera and my daughter’s Dell laptop, using the iCap program which came with the camera. I took 1 minute .avi captures of Jupiter to process with Registax. As the night went on, I thought the seeing did improve a little bit, so here are some of my best images I managed to capture and process.

The first image was taken without a barlow lens, using compressed RGB video (one of my first attempts, after adjusting the exposure and the white balance in iCap); it was only later that I searched about it and read about recording in uncompressed video.

Jupiter
Jupiter

This image was taken with my Celestron Ultima 2x 1.25″ barlow lens, again in compressed video.

Jupiter with Celestron 2x barlow
Jupiter with Celestron 2x barlow

I decided to set the capture to uncompressed video, but during the process it defaulted to Y800 codec which records in black and white. Hence many of the videos I captured were in B+W, and could not be converted to colour.

Jupiter in B+W
Jupiter in B+W

Anyway during the first light with this new camera, I learnt a fair bit about the iCap program as well as how to use the Neximage 5 camera. I’ve learnt to ensure I set the right video codec (RGB32) if I wish to record in colour, to adjust the white balance for Jupiter, as well as the exposure. The next aim is to shoot Jupiter again, saturn and Venus using the Televue Powermate 2.5x or 5x, to see if I can get an even bigger image of these planets.

Although the Neximage 5 seems to work reasonably well, I have had instances where there was a band of signal disturbance running across the screen horizontally which does get recorded onto the video; so I’ve had to adjust so that Jupiter did not go onto that area.

I am not sure if it has to do with interference from the cable or the connection with the laptop or to do with the gain used, as this is not present all the time. Hopefully I will have more time to play with it in the coming weeks-months, and then perhaps I can give my final verdict of what I think about the Neximage 5. But I supposed the images I capture of the planets will be the ultimate decider of how well it does work.

Boon