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Super Sharp Views of the Planets

The Madawaska Highlands Observatory will be using some advanced technology on its visitors telescopes to show real-time ultrahigh resolution views of the planets and moon. As one of key mandates of the facility is deliver an experience to guest that will be unavailable anywhere in the world.

A very high performance high frame rate camera will be used at the eyepiece of the Visitors Telescopes and display in real time on a high resolution OLED screen views of the planets that on occasion will be approach those from the Hubble telescope.

The process relies on the fact that the limiting resolution is determined by the atmosphere and not the size of the telescope. Even the largest telescopes have this limit. Indeed telescopes as small as 14" can actually outperform multi-meter telescopes in terms of seeing detail. These distortions caused by the atmosphere are random and occasionally have steady periods where the telescope can be used at it full resolution. These steady periods are typically only a few milliseconds in length.

The technique allows some custom software to examine the hundreds of frames per second short exposures from the camera and display those rare images that are super-sharp. Which only happen every few seconds, that is one in every few hundred frames.
The frames are fully corrected, calibrated and adjusted in real time.

The results are truly astonishing, as shown here, obtained with 14" telescope, a modest high quality camera in the backyard of a home in southern England. Photo Courtesy D. Peach.

The Visitors Telescopes will be 30" and 40" and will show significantly more detail. Details on Jupiter's moons will be visible.


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