Our cameras are most well known for their use in astrophotography, but cooled CCDs are also used for a variety of other astronomical applications, such as astrometry, photometry and spectroscopy. Getting into these kinds of scientific applications is actually far easier than you might think, particularly if you have an Atik Camera that you use for imaging already.
Spectroscopy involves the measurement and analysis of spectra and this can give you a huge amount of information about a star, from its composition to its temperature to its movement. This is why the spectra is often referred to as “the fingerprint of a star”.
Using a special grating that screws directly onto the front of your camera, you can split starlight into a colourful spectrum which can then be analysed in specialist software such as RSpec from Field Tested Systems. The Star Analyser grating manufactured by Paton Hawksley is a great way to get started in spectroscopy and is available from Field Tested Systems, as well as directly from the manufacturer in the UK and a number of other retailers around the world.
Cooled CCD cameras are particularly suited for use in spectroscopy due to their high sensitivity, low noise and high dynamic range. This allows you to capture accurate and detailed spectra of even very faint and dim targets, meaning the possibilities for scientific study are almost endless. The Atik 314L+ has a long standing reputation as an excellent spectroscopy camera, as does the Atik 460EX. Both these cameras offer the opportunity to move on from more conventional spectroscopy to more advanced techniques such as fluorescence and raman spectroscopy.
While colour CCD cameras can be successfully for these techniques, we generally recommend choosing a monochrome sensor if you’re primary goal is scientific study due to their advanced sensitivity.
This video from Tom Field explains more about how to get started.
Do you have experience in spectroscopy or other scientific applications? Let us know in the comments.