2-bit astrophotography: Using a Game Boy Camera to shoot the moon and Jupiter
|Alexander Pietrow connected his 2-bit Game Boy Camera to an antique telescope to photograph the Moon and Jupiter. The craziest part? It kind of worked.|
If your goal is to capture photos of the Moon and Jupiter, your go-to camera probably wouldn't be Nintendo's 2-bit, 128×112 pixel Game Boy Camera from 1998. But that's exactly what Astronomy and Instrumentation student Alexander Pietrow tried, and the results are actually pretty neat.
The photo experiment was inspired by "countless mods and hacks" Pietrow has seen for the Game Boy Camera online, "where people use this little camera in ways that Nintendo probably never envisioned."
"In line with this mentality I wondered if it would be possible to do astrophotography with this camera," writes Pietrow on his blog. "Searching the internet I was surprised that nobody had tried this before and decided to give it a go."
|Pietrow's setup: a Game Boy Camera attached to a 6'' Fraunhofer telescope using Gosky Universal Cell Phone Adapter.|
And 'give it a go' he did. He attached a Game Boy Camera to an old 1838 6-inch Fraunhofer telescope in the Old Observatory of Leiden using a Gosky Universal Cell Phone Adapter. A very simple setup, all he had to do was align the camera with the telescope's eyepiece.
After a quick clock tower test while he waited for a cloudless night, Pietrow was ready to do some 2-bit astrophotography. "A few weeks later the clouds finally broke up and the Moon was high in the sky together with Jupiter," writes Pietrow. "Not wanting to pass up on this opportunity, I rushed to the observatory and clicked away."
What he managed to capture was a series of teeny-tiny, grainy, black-and-white digital photographs. Horrific by today's digital standards... and yet. And yet there's something endearing about these photos and the grainy lunar details they were able to capture. It turns out if give a digital medium long enough, its first gasps turn into something resembling fine art:
|Three close-ups of the moon, as captured by a 2-bit Game Boy Camera.|
With these promising results in, Pietrow got bold. He decided to try and capture something a tiny bit further away from the Moon: Jupiter.
With the naked eye, Pietrow says you could clearly make out Jupiter with its lines and four Galilean moons. But while the Game Boy Camera couldn't quite resolve that kind of detail, it did manage to capture Jupiter and three of those moons. Sure... the moons are only one pixel in size, but this is a 128 x 112 camera.
Nintendo certainly never expected people to use it for astrophotography.
|Along with Jupiter, you can actually see three of the four Galilean moons in this grainy Game Boy Camera photo.|
Granted, these photos won't win any astrophotography awards. But this fun little photo experiment is useful, in our minds, for two reasons. One: it's a good reminder of just how far digital photography has come since the 90s. And two: it might just inspire you to try something crazy.
Pietrow managed to capture some form of astrophotography with a 2-bit camera... what's your excuse?
All photos © Alexander Pietrow and used with permission.
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