Does anyone use tracking cameras?

Richard Lee

I'm starting a new hobby, Video Astronomy.. o_O

My plan is to use a remote control 'Goto' telescope to watch the planets, moons and stars,
on a big screen TV while sitting in my den..

Anyways, hooking all this stuff up to track stars and planets etc, got me wondering
if aircraft position information could be converted to RA & Dec (telescope language)
and fed into a telescope control program?
I'm not sure, but I think maybe people have used this kind of gear to track satellites..


That's a 5" video monitor on the focuser (video camera not installed).

I think the 130mm mirror makes the video camera about 140x magnification.
so it shouldn't be too hard to get video of planes at 40,000 feet, if it's possible to track them..

Hi Rich,

Sounds like a genius plan - that is as long as you don't live in a cloudy place like I do!!

You can certainly find satellites like that too - the orbits are known so they can be plotted very accurately.
I do't think you will be able to follow those transiting quickly across the sky but geostationary should be fine.

Planes are a different matter though and even with our data we can't be sure where they will be.

Mirek on our forum takes some stunning photos but I've not seen any videos.
Some info here...

Anyways - sound fun - I have recently been prompted to get my old goto NextStar scope out of the attic.
Just need it to stop raining now!

Have fun :)

Good Morning Mark,

We do get some overcast days, but there are enough good ones to make it worth a new hobby. :)

Last night I had the 6mm EP (108 x) and was looking at Mars, out to the SW.
When I saw a 'star' that was almost as bright as Mars. But, it was moving!
So, I clicked up the motor speed to manually track it. It was hard, too much power in the EP.
Needed the wide angle FOV. But I did get in it's line-of-flight and saw it for a few seconds.
It was amazing! I think it was a B-737 with a neat looking paint job. All it's lights were on.
It looked like a space ship coming towards Boston. Way up there.

Earlier, I had been looking at Saturn, when a tiny distant jet flew across the FOV, buzzing Saturn.. ;)
It must have been 30 to 50 miles away. Saturn's relative size was about the same as the little Jet.
I could see one white strobe light. After passed from the FOV, I looked around Saturn,
expecting to see that distant strobe light.. Nope, it was too far away to see with the nakedeye.

I've been amazed by all the satellites I've been seeing high in the NE sky. Many of them in polar obits.
I'll be looking at a group of stars in the Andromeda region an see these tiny objects slowly moving
across the EP or on the big screen TV.

My low-cost security video camera (Samsung SCB-2000n) can be set to high sensitivity.
At the Slower shudder speeds, the satellites have false tails behind them, making them look like meteorites burning up.

The sky is very busy around here! A lot to see.

Good Morning Rich,

Super impressed that you caught the 737 like that.

I must say most nights when I was using my scope something would flash past.
Or if trying long exposure with just my camera on zoom I'd often see a streak in the picture.
There sure is a lot whizzing around up there!!

All I've see though is white things whizzing buy and blurry lines on my photos!
Not the spaceships you are seeing :eek:)

All good fun though :eek:)


Wow Mike! You are getting some great pics!
I've given up on the idea of plane watching with my telescope.
If I want to check out some jets, I just use my binoculars during the daytime.

One night, after setting up my video telescope rig, I saw a bunch of clouds
streaming by on the big-screen TV.. I knew it was useless to go on,
and decided to quit and take down the scope.

But, I wanted to take a quick iPhone video of the 42" screen,
to send to my kid, so she could see why I quit for the night..
Suddenly a jet zooms into the FOV.. :)

Nope, I was not expecting to see that!
Hi Doug,
That's a pretty neat rig. Maybe some very smart programer can come up with a way to use the algorithm to generate control signals that are compatible with standard telescope control protocol

Thanks for the link..