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M65 captured with GSTAR-EX3 camera
  • DEEP-SKY IMAGER - With its powerful included software, dramatic images of star clusters, galaxies, nebulae and other deep sky objects is possible for printable portraits or simply sitting back and enjoy near real-time live views on your computer monitor.
  • SOLAR SYSTEM IMAGER - Coupled with the cameras super high resolution Sony image sensor, and high-speed USB3 port, you can capture breathtaking images of the planets, lunar surafce or Sun at rates up to 200 frames per second.
  • AUTO-GUIDER - Even use this highly versatile camera as an auto-guider with your ST-4 compatible mount via video or ASCOM connection. 
Finally, a highly affordable camera that can pretty much cover all your needs. The amazing new GSTAR-EX3 colour camera is your passport to live viewing and imaging the night sky. With better overall functionality and performance it also offers slightly wider field of view than its predecessors. The GSTAR-EX3 is USB plug and play ready utilising latest high-speed USB3 technology and new generation Sony Exmor image sensor and internal thermal cooling fan. The GSTAR-EX3 camera uses the Sony IMX178 CMOS Sensor which features high sensitivity, high resolution, and high dynamic range with back-illuminated CMOS image sensor technology. The IMX178 is an "Exmor R" sensor, with significantly enhanced imaging characteristics, including sensitivity and low noise, by changing fundamental structure of "Exmor" adopted column-parallel A/D converter to back-illuminated type.
Sony STARVIS sensors, of which the IMX178 is one, features sensitivity of 2000 mV or more per 1µm²*, and realizes high picture quality in the visible and near infrared light regions. High dynamic range is achieved with 14 bit ADC, which reduces quantization noise and suppressed dark random noise. This enables clear image quality in light and dark areas, even when imaging objects with high contrast. Not only is it a great deep-sky capable camera, with its small 2.4um pixels and 1/1.8-inch sensor size is performs exceptionally well as a superb guiding camera due to its advantages in resolution and wide FOV and as a high-speed planetary imager using ROI.
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Specifications

Image Sensor: Sony Exmor IMX178 colour
Size: 1/1.8" (8.92mm diagonal) (3:2 aspect)
Resolution: 3072 x 2048 (6.3 M/pixels) 2.4μm x 2.4μm
Bit Depth: 8 bit and 14 bit (10 bit / 12 bit 14 bit A/D converter)
Output Resolution: 3040 x 2048 (1520 x 1024 binned mode)
Dust Protection: IR cut off filter dust protective window.
Exposure: 0.244 sec ~16 minutes 
Frame rates: up to 200 fps with ROI and 8 bit mode*
Cooling: Fan vented (on/off controllable)
Connection: USB3 (also USB2.0) and  powered by USB 
Dimensions: 84 (L) x 67mm (W): Weight: 300 grams
Thread: M42 x 0.75mm female
Nosepiece: M42 male to 1.25 inch (threaded for 1.25" filters)
Auto-Guiding: ST4 compliant with ASCOM and WDM drivers
Cables: USB3 and Auto-guide supplied
Includes powerful live viewing, live stacking and capture softwares, including the latest update of GSTAR4 capture V.56 plus ASCOM drivers and auto-guiding software. Compatible with WIN XP, WIN7 WIN8 and WIN10.
Image & video formats: AVI, SER, BMP, JPG, PNG, TIF & FITS 

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FAN HEATSINK COOLED The GSTAR-EX3 comes with a M42 x0.75 female threaded front housing for direct attachment to M42 male adaptors and providing more inward focus capability. It can also be used in 1.25 inch eyepiece holders with supplied M42 male to 1.25 inch nosepiece adaptor or optional M42 male to 2 inch nosepiece. The rear of the camera features a low brightness red power LED which blinks during operation. A USB3 high-speed port for connecting the camera directly to your computers USB3 or USB2 port with supplied USB cable and ST4 auto-guiding port for connecting the camera directly to your mounts auto-guiding port connector using the supplied 1.5 metre auto-guiding cable. The camera is kept cooled to ambient temperatures via the built-in fan and side vent helping to reduce hot pixels. 

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Above: NGC-253 from a 130mm f/5 Newtonian from suburban backyard using with GSTAR-EX3 set to 30 second, unguided exposures and later stacked. Auto Dark Frame subtraction feature was used during exposures so no need to apply them later during the stacking process.
M65 captured with GSTAR-EX3 camera
Above: M65 galaxy in Leo using 12 inch f/5 Newtonian with GSTAR-EX3 set to 10 second exposure live stack x 2 frames. Auto Dark Frame subtraction was used during exposures. 

POWERFUL SOFTWARE

LIVE DARK FRAME & FLAT FIELD  SUBTRACTION

One of the powerful features of the cameras software is the ability to subtract visible hot pixels from long exposures live. Cover the scope, select how many frames to capture then check the "Enable" box.
The software now also features flat field processing of images too.


LIVE STACK AND IMAGE ALIGNMENT

This is perhaps the key feature of the cameras software whereby deeper views and images can be displayed on screen and captured in real-time using the live stacking option. Just like the GSTAR-EX and EX2 cameras which performed co-add or summing of video frames within the cameras electronics, the images from the GSTAR-EX3 uses external software to perform this task offering a few user options. Option 1) to Co-add a number of user defined images from the camera to display the equivalent of a much longer or deeper exposure or Option 2) to average a user defined number of exposures for displaying a smoother, less noisy result. This is similar to the CSD function of our GSTAR4 capture software although far more flexible and powerful.
If your telescopes mount is fairly well polar aligned and / or tracking pretty accurately, another amazing feature within the "Live Stacking" option is aligning and stacking images in real-time. In other words, images output from the camera can be aligned as well as stacked (with dark frames subtracted for that matter) all at the same time to produce a lovely still image, sequence of still images or video recording at the same time. And, you can stack these later as well for even smoother results using your favourite image stacking software.
Select 8 bit mode or better still, 14 bit mode for greater dynamic range and detail.
 

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PERFECT FOR GENERAL PUBLIC VIEWING

As can be seen from the smart phone snapshot of a computer monitor at right, using only a small 130mm f/5 telescope, dramatic full colour views of nebula, galaxies or star cluster is possible and with shorter exposures, wonderful views of the planets or craggy landscapes of the Moon .
Like anything when it comes to modern computer displays, the viewing angle capability of the LED or LCD monitor is important for allowing large group viewing.
This computer monitor view of M20 the Trifid Nebula is 5 second refreshed exposures utilising live auto-dark frame subtraction and live stacking options of the capture and display software. 

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The telescope mount is only roughly aligned so the overlay bullseye crosshair is used to monitor any overly large unwanted drift. If this happens, one can simply pause the recording, adjust the mount position so that that the reference star is centred to the crosshair once again then resume the recording.
However if the mount is extremely well aligned then this is not necessary and live alignment and stacking feature can be used together.  And, to the right above is the magnificent silver coin galaxy NGC253 in video mode using only 5 second exposures and live stack mode. The small display window can of course be set to full screen mode as shown in the M20 live view above.


HIGH RESOLUTION IMAGING OF THE MOON
With its 6.3 megapixel array of 2.4 micron pixels, excellent seeing conditions will allow you to capture wonderful lunar vistas with fine detail. The following lunar images were taken with the GSTAR-EX3 and 12 inch Newtonian.

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Planetary Imaging

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JUPITER  2017


Captured using 12 inch f/5 Newtonian and Explore Scientific 5X tele-extender and GSTAR-EX3 on a night of average seeing.

Mode, 14 bit and 3040 x 2048 resolution was used with software ROI cropping for increased capture frame rate speed. This quickly processed image was stacked in AutoStakkert and sharpened in Maxim DL4.
 

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GANYMEDE WITH SURFACE DETAIL

Captured using 12 inch f/5 Newtonian and Explore Scientific 5X tele-extender and GSTAR-EX3 on a night of average seeing.

Mode, 14 bit and 3040 x 2048 resolution was used with software ROI cropping for increased capture frame rate speed. This quickly processed image was stacked in AutoStakkert and sharpened in Maxim DL4.

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SATURN

Captured using 12 inch f/5 Newtonian and Explore Scientific 5X tele-extender and GSTAR-EX3 on a night of average seeing.

Mode, 14 bit and 3040 x 2048 resolution was used with software ROI cropping for increased capture frame rate speed. This quickly processed image was stacked in AutoStakkert and sharpened in Maxim DL4.

Hardware Requirements 


CPU equal to Intel Core2 2.8GHz or better
Memory: 2GB or more
USB Port: USB3.0 High Speed port *
USB Port: USB2.0
*Highest speed frame rates of up to 195 fps depends on the computer hardware and camera exposure, bit depth and ROI settings.
**The camera is designed to work optimally with Intel based USB3 port controllers including NEC and many others. However the cameras software may not perform correctly with some older computers that use AS-Media USB3 port controllers in Window 7 but may be ok in WIN8 and later. If this is the case, you can simply use a USB2.0 port.
***Please note: If you do not well understand the basics of using your telescope, its optics and / or have difficulties working with a computer then this product may not be suitable for you.** 


As with any form of astro-photography / imaging, getting the best out of a camera depends on several factors including your telescope optics, environmental conditions, understanding the capture software and optimal settings thereof and of course, personal post image processing skills. When it comes to live deep-sky viewing and imaging, the GSTAR-EX3 works best with short focal length (faster) instruments like F/5 etc so, with a longer focal length instrument, consider using a focal reducer (tele-compressor) lens such as the PS-RDCR-TM mentioned above or other telescope design specific lens.
You should seriously take time to learn the capture and live view features of the software by experimenting with various settings to see what works and what doesn't for a given celestial target as there are many combinations that will affect the "on screen" view and final processed image.
For example you might try using a longer exposure time greater than 5 seconds using the softwares "Trigger Mode" capturing a dozen or so frames for later stacking or use shorter exposures with "Video Mode" capturing one or two hundred frames for later stacking to compare the differences. Some prefer "real-time" dark frame subtraction while others want more control over this by capturing their dark frames separately and applying them later. You might prefer to stretch the gamma settings a little to reveal fainter detail and co-additively align and stacking in real-time or you might prefer to use Registax or AutoStakkert to do this later or even use both methods.
In the end however, producing a really nice final image depends on how well you set things up with the camera and software from the outset in order to register and record the maximum pixel information from the camera and of course your own personal image processing skills.
See some customer images here. Please feel free to send along your own result.

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