AST8300-A-M-FW standalone CCD. Image Credit: Secret Studio


For a while now, indeed a few years, as CCD and imaging technology has continued to make leaps and strides, I have been postulating the idea of a CCD camera that is not tethered to a laptop, giving the user the same ‘freedom’ as a typical DSLR.

This idea was scoffed at by some, who suggested DSLRs were the best option if ‘freedom’ was the requirement, but I kept the faith and now, seemingly, my patience has paid off!

Astrel Instruments have come up with one such a camera. In the August issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine, Pete Lawrence takes their AST8300-A-M-FW standalone CCD for a ‘spin’ in his review.

As Pete puts it, the camera “combines the convenience of a DSLR with the superior imaging quality of a cooled astronomical CCD camera.”

This always seemed like a natural development to me, as it can be quite inconvenient to always need a laptop setup attached to a separate CCD camera.

It’s just something else to set up and have to take down if the weather takes an unexpected turn!

Hopefully this catches on, especially as wireless technology should surely mean an end is in sight for ungainly cables and laptops out in the garden (unless, of course, you are fortunate enough to have an observatory where you can keep everything set up and dry).

Also in the August issue, Tim Jardine enjoys testing out the Altair Starwave 152 V2 ‘red tube’ achromat refractor, which certainly catches the eye with its elegant, bright red colour scheme, and I explore the virtues of the Bresser Messier MC-152 Maksutov Cassegrain, finding it to be a well-rounded system.


Pick up your copy of the August issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine, hitting newsstands 21 July.


Paul Money is an experienced astronomer, BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Reviews Editor and author of the annual stargazing guide Nightscenes.