The Inexpensive Imagers Meade DSI Series and Orion Starshoot

The Meade Deep Sky Imager PRO is a monochrome CCD astro-imager, with high-performing simple-to-use monochrome CCD camera, which allows amateur astronomers to image and process spectacular photographs of deep-sky objects such as star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. The camera is most suited to the intermediate to advanced amateur. The Deep Sky Imager PRO comes with an RGB filter set that produce amazing RGB and LRGB images.



The imager has a Sony® High Sensitivity Monochrome CCD Sensor, with ExView HADTM Monochrome CCD Image Sensor Technology to produce extreme low noise and a higher dynamic range with a 16-bit A/D converter. The imager also features a fast USB 2.0 high speed connection, which allows fast data transfer. The maximum download time for planetary imaging is 5 fps. At longer exposure this decreases to 0.5 fps, to sustain a higher signal-to-noise ratio. There is hardly any delay from imaging to download on to a computer. The Deep Sky Imager PRO is also compatible with USB 1.1.


Another feature of DSI PRO is “drizzle”, which was developed by NASA for processing images from the Hubble Space Telescope, and is effective on any AutoStar Controlled Telescope. Drizzle adds three enhancements. The first is increased resolution, which involves applying a series of coarse pixel grid images from the DSI to a fine pixel grid image, thus increasing the resolution. The second is where images are added to a final image that is as much as twice as large, both horizontally and vertically, and the telescope is guided to the four corners of the image, with the final image being nearly four times as large as the original. The final enhancement is the ability of the software to rotate each image before applying it to the final image.


AutoStar Suite supports DSI, which means you can use a separate guide telescope and DSI, in addition to one for prime focus and wide-field viewing. Any imager can be used for guiding, with the only limitation being the computer speed and memory, and the availability of USB ports. A 2 GHz computer with 512 MB RAM can run 3 DSIs.  The Meade DSI has convection cooling to protect the CCD, thus providing longer exposures with less noise.


Data received from DSI is uncompressed, meaning that there is zero information loss. You can plug the DSI’s USB into your laptop for power. DSI comes with Autostar SuiteT Software for camera control and image processing. The DSI camera is light and portable. It will work on any telescope, and can be used as a sensitive and easy-to-use autoguider.


DSI comes with a CCD color filter set, which consists of red, green and blue interference filters, as well as an IR filter. The filters have multiple high-transmission coatings and durable 3 mm glass, and were specifically designed for DSI PRO. However the filters are compatible with standard filter wheels from competitors. They have a standard 1.25″ diameter of black anodized filter rings. The filters’ parfocal design means you will not have to re-focus if you switch between filters. They provide specific wavelength transmission for true color images with short exposure times.

AutoStar Suite ™ Software consists of Sky Software, Image Capture Software, and Imaging Processing Software. Included in the program suite is a Time Lapse photography tool that can make movies of Jupiter’s rotation and the orbits of its moons. Let Deep Sky Imager uses automatic and manual exposure settings to optimize the exposure, or to set it manually.


New Stretch Options Auto-stretch provides automatic enhancement of dim objects at short exposures, by optimizing an object’s contrast, with the use of adjustable settings. Automatic Dark Subtraction stacks and averages dark frames, before subtracting them to provide a clean image. AutoStar provides automatic alignment and stacking of images using the latest available technology.


Orion-StarShoot-Solar-System-Color-Imaging-Camera-IVThe Orion Starshoot Deep-Space CCD Color Imaging Camera is available for most telescopes with a 1.25″ eyepiece. Orion Starshoot produces excellent color images of planets, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies, and displays them on your PC screen. The MaxIm DL Essentials Edition software provides excellent camera control and imaging processing. The software allows multiple exposures automatically, and aligns and stacks the best images, while subtracting averaged dark frames to achieve the best quality. The program is compatible with Windows 98 up to XP, and requires a USB 2.0 port (high-speed recommended).


A parfocal ring is included to assist with initial acquisition of the target. The camera’s 1.25″ adapter is threaded, making it suitable for use in filters. The imager and CCD chip are cooled by thermoelectric cooling (TEC), which assists in reducing electronic noise that impacts adversely on image quality, especially during the warmer months.

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