CosmoQuest has been doing these Virtual Star Parties on Google+. They get a few folks to stream video from their telescopes, and a couple astronomers to explain what we’re looking at. Most of those telescope setups cost thousands of dollars, from what I can tell. That got me wondering how cheap you could make a networked telescope. Turns out, pretty cheap.
I had a few things lying around the house: a Galileoscope, an old smartphone and a cheap camera tripod. So, mount the telescope on the tripod and point the camera at the eyepiece. I had to pick up some angle brackets to hold the camera steady but everything else I already had.
Here’s a still frame I captured of the Moon. It was a bit hazy and the sky wasn’t quite dark but it came out OK. It was originally 2560×1920, scaled down to fit here. The circle shows how much of the view is taken up by the eyepiece. I don’t know why it’s bumpy. Hey, it’s a $50 telescope with plastic lenses in it. Can’t be too picky.
And here’s a movie streamed from the telescope. It was originally about 2 minutes long but I sped it up a bit so you can see the Moon drifting across the view as the Earth turns under it. It was really hazy by the time I recorded this; you can see wisps of cloud drifting by.
If I wanted to use this in a G+ hangout, I’d stream to a window on my screen and then share that window in the hangout. A little convoluted but workable.