Photomicrography trials with a Meade LPI (Lunar Planetary Imager) digital camera

by Bill Resch, USA


Since one of my hobbies is astronomy, my sons gave me a camera designed to capture images through the telescope. I had to try it on the microscope and want to share the results. 

The microscope used is an old Swift which the company I worked for was going to throw in the garbage. It was sitting uncovered for at least 30 years. Some of the lenses were covered with some hardened substance, which I could only remove by scrubbing hard with MEK. Some of the adjusting knobs were frozen solid. I mention this to show what can be done with, what some consider junk. 

My humble setup 

The camera is a Meade LPI (Lunar Planetary Imager). Price $150—if you buy a telescope, some dealers include it for free. It comes with some spectacular astronomy software: "Autostar Suite". You need the software to capture the images. The camera is used without the eyepiece. It inserts into the telescope in place of the eyepiece. There is a collar which unscrews to make the diameter smaller. Even then it is still too large to insert into a microscope. I got a piece of pvc pipe coupling, which allows me to stick it on the end of the microscope tube. I realize that this extends the tube length and will cause some spherical aberration. For more info check Meade's website.  

The software allows you to look at the image in real time and to take images. It will take images until you tell it to stop. The images will be overlaid which sometimes lets you see detail you cannot see by looking into the microscope yourself. This camera and software is designed for astronomy, that is why I think that the illumination difference is pronounced. The bright spot on an image below does not show up visually.

Comments to the author, Bill Resch, are welcomed.  


Images (Editor's note: resized from VGA masters)

Diatoms test slide taken with 10X objective

Radiolaria (10X objective)

Mixed Diatoms. (40X objective)

Butterfly Wing (10X objective)


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Published in April 2005 Micscape Magazine.
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