Birds Ideal Planetary / Deep-Sky Camera

Anthony Wesley, May 22 2005

I've been doing a lot of research on the web lately, trying to locate a suitable replacement for my current planetary camera (a Unibrain fire-i mono camera) but without any real success. The "ideal" planetary camera simply does not exist, or if it does then it's buried somewhere that I can't find it...

I've written a companion article that goes into the requirements for planetary imaging with modern CCD cameras in more detail - it might be worth a read if you're new to this part of astronomy or just interested to see how the "other half" lives. The article is here.

As an act of desperation I've decided to make this page, describing what this mythical "ideal" planetary camera should look like and how it ought to behave. The purpose of this page is to attract enough support that we might (as a group) convince a manufacturer to build this device, make their fortune and retire to the Bahamas.

(Well, ok, maybe not, but at least sell enough to make it a worthwhile proposition).

Now before you object that there can be no such thing as an "ideal" astronomy camera because everyone will want something slightly different, let me start by saying that such a camera would be modular in design, allowing the fitting of different CCDs using a carrier board that slides or slots in and locks onto the main board. There would be different modular (carrier) boards for planetary use vs deep-sky use etc.

And, as an additional benefit, this camera should be useful for moderately serious deep-sky photography as well by including peltier cooling and extended shutter controls. It would probably not compare with the "expensive" deep-sky cameras (i.e. in the $4k+ price bracket) but should be able to hold its own in the lower end of the market, say challenging those deep-sky cameras currently in the $1k to $4k price range.

But I get ahead of myself... Here's the full specs for this camera as I envision it:

If this sounds like something interesting, please email me. I've set up a special email address ( which automatically archives emails sent to it. Feel free to comment on these features, suggest different features etc. (Note that you'll have to get past my anti-spam defence, so expect to get a challenge. Just reply to this and your email will be delivered).

I'll be sending this link to major CCD camera manufacturers for their comment. Maybe we can get one of them interested.

regards, Anthony Wesley (Bird)

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