GSTAR-EX 256X CCD camera for Astronomy

GENERAL
- Old GSTAR-EX Page
- Books
- Contact Us
- Buy GSTAR-EX2



www.myAstroShop.com.au


SUPPORT
- Tutorial / Manual
- Quick Start Guide
- Update Downloads
- GSTAR User Images
- General Questions

- Camera Functions
- Adaptor Chart
- Camera basics 101
- Deep-Sky 101
- Moon 101
- Deep-Sky Tour


 

Video Tutorials
- Camera basics 101
- Deep-Sky 101
- Occultation 101

 

NGC-5128
GSTAR 4 CAPTURE

 

 

GSTAR-EX Capture Software

GSTAR Capture V4

Our renowned video capture software on CD with your camera.
Developed in Australia it also includes camera COM remote control for use with GSTAR-PC COM cable along with a host of other features.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE

 


IC 2220
IC2220 by S.Quirk


Eagle Nebula

M16 by S.Quirk


Jupiter

Jupiter - S.Massey


Eratosthenes

Lunar imaging - S.Massey
 


19.8 magnitude star near the Ring Nebula
Stacking many images and image processing reveals a 19.8 magnitude star near M57 with 12-inch telescope.

courtesy S.Quirk


VENUS
Utilising the GSTAR cameras near infrared sensitivity, imaging the thermal radiation from the surface of the night side of Venus seen here using a 1-micron filter and 12 -inch telescope.


 

Optional Accessoris


Vixen C-mount 2.4X tele-extender for increased magnification of the Moon, planets and planetary nebulae. Screws directly into the camera and acts both as a barlow lens and nosepiece in one.

GET IT NOW
 


Designed in Australia
specifically for the
 GSTAR-EX range.
ProStar 0.7 to 0.5X
C-thread focal reducer to effectively produce a wider
field of view and brighter images. Screws directly into the camera and acts both as a reducer lens and nosepiece in one.

GET IT NOW


 

Use your GSTAR-EX2 camera as a highly sensitive finder-scope with this excellent non-vignetting 35mm c-mount lens. Do star alignment for your mount before you can even see the stars!
Gives a 9.5 degree wide field of view.


 

M83 in Hydra with 12-inch Newtonian and ProStar LRGB filter set.
 The 1/2-inch CCD give dramatic close up views at the prime focus of this telescope.

 

GSTAR-COM for PC



 


 

This image of the Helix Nebula taken with LRGB filters using a small affordable 130mm f/5 Newtonian telescope.


David Malin Award

GSTAR-EX user Darrin Nitschke receiving receives a special mention award from Dr.David Malin

Darrin Nitschke receiving receives a special mention award from Dr.David Malin for his GSTAR-EX panorama image of Markarian's Chain of galaxies



 

This tiny planetary nebula Shapley 1 is seen easily with the GSTAR-EX2 camera.

Mercury

Credit: Steve Massey
Rare detail captured in this image of Mercury

 



 

Silver Coin Galaxy with GSTAR-EX2 low noise camera
Above: NGC253 - 12-inch Sky-Watcher L(400) RGB (200)


Amazing Live Views
Excellent Imaging Camera
X256 frame accumulation
Super Low Noise
Fast Accumulation ramp up time (<30s)
1/2" Sony monochrome micro-lens CCD
Click here to take a look at this montage of deep-sky images
 taken over a few hours using just a small ED80 f/7.5 refractor


Amazing results even with a small highly affordable telescope
This LRGB image of the Trifid nebula was taken with a small Vixen 130mm f/5 Newtonian. Using  X256 frame accumulation mode, just 150 stacked frames for each filter.
See article on Vixen R130Sf Newtonian with GSTAR-EX2


No Fuss set-up and Easy to Use
View faint galaxies and nebula on your TV or computer
View the planets and Moon with amazing detail
See more detail than views at the eyepiece
Perfect for Observatories, Schools, Uni, family and friends
Record to VCR, DVD, Memory Stick or disk drive


Excellent black & white portraits
Colour imaging with optional LRGB filters
Fast image rates beat distorting effects of the atmosphere
Internal frame accumulation for seeing faint objects
BNC Composite out
RS232 PC COM control
OSD Menu System
2X Zoom plus Mirror and Flip functions
Image Enhance Function
Manual & Auto Shutter Speeds
Gain Control and Gamma Presets

 

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THE GSTAR-EX2  VIDEO ASTRONOMY CCD CAMERA
SIMPLE AS 1. 2. 3.

Looking for a simple, no-fuss way to capture dramatic portraits of the night sky with a telescope? Something that doesn't require absolutely perfect telescope tracking or polar alignment and long exposure times?
Our GSTAR-EX series of cameras are the complete CCD based video imaging tool you've been seeking. Utilising a highly sensitive ExView HAD Sony CCD and leading-edge, on-board frame accumulation and super noise reduction technology, this camera reveals amazing real-time views of galaxies, nebula, star clusters, comets, the planets and their moons and of course, our own Moon. With suitable safety filtering, the Sun can also be imaged in extraordinary detail.

This camera will show you far more detail than can be seen visually at the eyepiece. in near real-time. Simply place the camera in to the focuser of your telescope like an eyepiece and connect it to your home TV monitor, VCR, DVD recorder or PC.

** Take a look at this montage of deep-sky images taken over a few hours using just a small ED80 f/7.5 refractor. **

Set the camera to "sense up" integration mode and watch those faint deep sky wonders unfold before your eye's! You don't even need to travel to dark country skies to achieve excellent celestial portraits.

 

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APPLICATIONS
Lunar Imaging - Planetary Imaging - Deep Sky Imaging - Supernova Patrol - Comet Hunting - All Sky Camera - Meteor & Asteroid Imaging - Occultation timing - Video Finderscope - Auto-Guiding.

PUBLIC EDUCATION

The GSTAR-EX2 is the perfect tool for educational nights in public observatories, schools, clubs and universities particularly when people are having difficulty viewing objects through the eyepiece. The camera is a completely stand-alone device and does not require a computer to operate. It can be plugged straight into the AV (composite video) input connector of a projector, TV monitor or DVD / VCR recorder.

CAMERA TO COMPUTER OPTIONS

Capturing the video output from the GSTAR-EX2 to a desktop PC or Laptop can be achieved by using a video capture device such as a PCI card in the case of a desktop machine or a video to USB adapter for a Laptop.

CALL US on (07)4194 5502 for advice and technical support

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GENERAL QUESTIONS
The GSTAR-EX2 is a highly affordable deep sky and planetary imaging camera that goes a step deeper into the dark than the classic GSTAR-EX.

Q. Do the GSTAR-EX2 camera need a computer or software to work?

A. NO. The camera is a completely stand-alone analogue output device and can be plugged straight into the AV (composite video) source input connector of a projector, TV monitor or DVD / VCR recorder. These are usually a yellow colour coded female RCA socket found next to the white and red coded audio left and right inputs.

Q. Does the GSTAR-EX2 camera have more hot pixels?

A. While the GSTAR-EX2 is not a thermally cooled camera, its revolutionary super digital noise reduction circuit presents an image free of obvious hot pixels (sometimes referred to as false stars). This coupled with its longer exposure times makes it perfect for live viewing and educational purposes. Even those dark contrast rings often seen around bright stars are greatly minimised. Its signal to noise performance is superior to other cameras in the same frame accumulation class.

Q. For imaging... do I still need to take dark frames?

A. While the cameras excellent SDNR circuit makes it possible to capture images virtually hot pixel free, one can capture an AVI for stacking and processing without the need for capturing, stacking and applying a dark frame. However, because no CCD is perfect, it is always a good idea to take dark frames for later use when processing your video images in order to achieve the best results. Furthermore, a dark frame will also remove the slight corner amplifier glow found in most non cooled cameras.

Q. Does my mount need to be tracking better to cope with X256 exposure?

A. Good polar alignment of an equatorial mount is always preferable for protracted enjoyment at the telescope. If your telescopes mount is badly off then longer exposure settings X128 and X256 will show drift and you won't achieve nice round stars. At X256, the camera picture refresh rate to the video display is around 5.12 seconds so like any long exposure camera, if a strong wind gust occurs during this time, the image will be smeared.

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GSTAR-EX2 TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
Image Sensor: SONY EX-view HAD mono 1/2-inch (Hi res Low Dark Current)
Sensor Pixels 8.6um(H) x (8.3um(V)
Resolution: Hi-res 600TVL (better than SVHS)
Capture Size: 768 x 576 pixels (maximum effective video capture size
Standard: CCIR (PAL)
Sensitivity: 0.00002 LUX at maximum gain and sense up
Shutter Speeds: 1/50 to 1/10,000 second (8 steps) - Automatic and Manual control
Integration Mode: Deep Sky Mode - X2 to X256 (max integration) (8 steps)
Signal Gain AGC ON or OFF
Image Mirror and Flip function YES
Signal Processing A/D converter 10 bit AGC/AD (14 bit internal)
Video Outputs 1x Composite (BNC)  1Vp-p into 75 Ohms
Gamma Adjust Two presets  (1.0 and 0.45)
Digital Zoom 2 x internal image rescaling (useful where optical magnification is limited)
Picture Enhance MID and HIGH settings
Operating Temp -20 to +50C - Humidity within 85%
Dimensions / Weight (L) 100mm (W) 50mm (H) 50mm - Weight 310 gms
Interface 5 control buttons for OSD control on back panel plus RS232 AUX
Power 12VDC regulated 160mA (centre positive) AC Plug pack supplied
Note: can work from 12VDC battery source with optional cable

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PROCESSED IMAGE RESULTS

International Space Station - May 28th 2015

Saturn from 12 inch Sky-Watcher Newtonian
You can see from the image of Saturn and the galaxy and nebulae images below how well the GSTAR-EX camera performs both as a planetary imager and deep-sky camera


The above images were taken using the camera X256 frame accumulation and processed without taking and applying dark frames in the stacking procedure. The barred spiral galaxy at bottom is NGC 6872 and is comprised of only 50 frames.

Below: Later in the evening using colour filters for M20 trifid nebula and M16, the images below were put together. Dark frames were taken and applied in this instance to ensure most accurate result.

 
M20 Trifid Nebula - the GSTAR-EX2 reveals lots more nebulosity


M16 Eagle Nebula - 300 (L) 100 (RGB)


M83 Galaxy - 300 (L) 100 (RGB)

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THE VIEW AS SEEN ON A COMPUTER MONITOR LIVE



Above: A screen shot of the GSTAR V.4 capture software and the live view seen using
the GSTAR-EX2 video astronomy camera with luminance filter only. This is the view seen after 30 seconds ramp up time to reach maximum sensitivity. Although this view is balanced so as not to over-saturate the centre of the nebula, adjusting the capture device brightness and contrast controls will reveal more in the fainter regions.

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GSTAR-EX USER GROUP
A camera users support group has been established with Yahoo as a general resource for camera owners to ask questions and share ideas and tips etc. It is not a discussion forum as such but rather a place to log any questions regarding set-up and use of the GSTAR-EX or imaging and image processing tips. While many owners find the camera quite simple to operate with our online application user manual covering most questions, if you'd like to share your results, questions or tips with other camera owners this might be a useful resource for you.

Join the GSTAR-EX Users Group courtesy of AstroHolic.com

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DOWNLOADS

GSTAR-CAPTURE Video Capture Software

Included with your camera purchase is our GSTAR Capture software freely available from this website. It is a flexible video capture program with a diverse range of features for real-time capture and time delay movie capture. It utilises your installed video or USB capture device drivers allowing multiple standard capture rates and custom capture rates slower than the standard 1 frame per second. Thus, it is perfect for use with the GSTAR-EX2 camera sense up modes X128 or X256 (GSTAR Monochrome) or X256 (GSTAR Colour camera). It can even be used with USB desktop webcams.

GSTAR 4 includes a favourite object database, location and equipment database editor. It creates a log database that records not only Universal Time but all the RA, declination, filter used, telescope, focal length etc information important for reviewing later when doing your image processing. The program features single or multiple filter automated scripted capture and manual modes plus dual positional and guiding crosshair reticles. The program also includes image enhancement functions, AVI frame selection for post processing, interlaced and non-interlaced viewing and recording, unlimited time lapse animation capture, instant snapshot, live histogram, occultation time stamping, dual night view modes, on screen zoom for checking focus plus GSTAR-COM and COM2 for GSTAR-EX2 camera control with expanded help file among numerous other very useful tools. For anyone using image streaming cameras, GSTAR 4 is a complete capture tool for astronomy.

Update: The program now includes an CSD (capture, stack & display) enhancement function which samples and combines two unique consecutive images to significantly reduce background noise. This makes live views and images recorded to the AVI smoother and more pleasing to the eye.

GSTAR Capture V4 is compatible for use with Windows XP, Vista, WIN7 32 and 64 bit, WIN 8.1and WIN 10 beta operating systems as far as we know to date. However, please remember that this is a "labour of love" freeware program written by Chris Wakeman and Steve Massey and GSTAR-EX cameras (or any other type for that matter) are not dependent on using it. In other words, GSTAR4 freeware only looks for any successfully installed video capture hardware and drivers you have installed on your computer.  We'd like to thank all those who gave us feedback and new suggestions to help make GSTAR 4 an even more useful tool for Video Astronomers.

Download GSTAR 4 capture (Full install program)

LATEST UPDATE V4.2.48

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Download Video Capture Device Analyser

GSTAR Capture V4 is compatible for use with Windows operating systems however not all video grabber devices are. Our simple test application will help to determine any possible incompatibilities with your video capture device. Please read the text file carefully in order for this program to work. Thanks Chris Wakeman for developing this useful tool.

**Please Note: If you do not understand the basics of your telescope or telescope optics and / or attaching devices to a TV or computer then this product may not be suitable for you.**


Digitech USB Video Capture Device  Driver for WIN 8.1 platform users

If you have bought a Digitech XC4991 video grabber device and need the driver for Windows 8.1 operating system then here is the link.
Run the EXE installation file then reboot your PC. Also appears to work with WIN 10

Download


We would like to sincerely acknowledge the excellent contributions of operating system testing and compliance of our GSTAR4 capture software and third party capture devices by Trevor Taylor of Dynatec Australia

 

Some GSTAR user websites
David Lloyd-Jones

Steve Quirk

Steve Massey

 

 
Copyright 2007-2014
Binary Systems Pty Limited
www.AstroShop.com.au
All Rights Reserved.

 

RECOMMENDED READING

Deep Sky Video Astronomy

 

Get the book!

Reveals all the tips and tricks for getting the most out of your deep sky capable video camera.
GET IT NOW


 

The GSTAR-EX cameras were used for more than 85% of the image illustrations in the renowned Atlas of the Southern Night Sky first, second and third edition sold throughout Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


VIDEO ASTRONOMY

Get the book and find out what Video Astronomy is all about
 

Video Astronomy
(revised edition)
oldie but a goodie


ProStar dichroic LRGBC 1.25-inch filter set. Excellent parfocal filters for optimal colour reproduction with your GSTAR camera.

GET IT NOW


 


 

GSTAR 4 Capture snapshot function used to take this live screen image of nebula M27 with 12-inch Newtonian & GSTAR-EX2.

 

Uranus and moons

 

Saturn


RGB image of Saturn

 

Comets

Comet NEAT 2001 Q4

 

Horse Head Neb

from Sydney light
polluted sky with
10-inch f/5 Newtonian