A colorful spectrum like the one at the top of this page can rightly be called a “fingerprint of a star.” Spectra like this one reveal the composition, temperature, and movement of stars. In the past, only professionals had the skill and equipment to study spectra. Recently, the cost and complexity of the necessary hardware and software has dropped enormously.
As our Periodic Table of Spectra below shows, each element emits its own unique color spectrum. By splitting starlight and examining the spectrum, we can identify the composition of the star, its temperature, and other physical properties. (A beautiful 36″ x 24″ laminated version of this poster is available for $29.95: link.)
Today, you can easily study the spectra of stars and planets with a minimum of expense. All you need is a telescope and a CCD camera (even a webcam or standalone DSLR). Just add our inexpensive Star Analyser grating and our RSpec software. It really is that easy!
Spectroscopy is exciting because you’re doing real science with simple gear. We invite you to join the growing number of amateur astronomers who have discovered the thrilling adventure of spectroscopy!
- detect Neptune’s methane atmosphere.
- determine any star’s OBAFGKM star-type and temperature from its spectra curve.
- identify the composition of a star or nebula from its emission and absorption lines
- detect the cosmological red-shift of a distant quasar!
- measure the blue-shift of a supernova’s expanding shell as it races towards us at millions of miles/hour.
Unleash your Inner Scientist
The video below will show you the exciting things you can easily do with an inexpensive grating on your telescope or DSLR:
Pardon our smile!
We’re pleased that Sky & Telescope Magazine awarded our RSpec software their “Hot Product” award. The award is given for product excellence and technical leadership. Our customers tell us the award was well-deserved because our ground-breaking software allows you to easily capture and process the spectra of stars.
See Tom Field, the author of our real-time spectroscopy program RSpec, interviewed by Sky & Telescope Magazine’s Dennis diCicco. Hear how easy it is to get started and the wonderful results you can get with a DSLR or a small backyard telescope. Dark skies and big telescopes aren’t necessary! You can probably get great spectra with your current setup, even from the suburbs. Watch this video:
Now you can easily capture the spectra of stars
Our RSpec software is a program that enables you to rapidly go from a FITS, DSLR, or video image to a calibrated spectrum graph – in real-time. Now you can see a star or planet’s spectrum graph instantly, right at your telescope! No more waiting until later to see if you got the spectrum you hoped for.
Getting started in spectroscopy is easy. Use our inexpensive Star Analyser grating (link) or Rainbow Optics Star Spectroscope on almost any camera or telescope. You’ll be able to easily see the spectra of distant stars. You can even use an unguided DSLR camera — no telescope needed.
But, don’t take our word for it — the video below shows the spectra of a bright star taken at 5 frames/second using just an astronomical video camera!
Better yet, see for yourself what’s possible. Check out our sample results page that shows what amateurs just like you have done: link.
In the past, creating an graph from a star’s spectrum was a painful trial-and-error process. But, now, because RSpec displays your profile graph immediately, it’s painless.
No one likes the drudgery of complicated image processing and steep learning curves. Astronomy is supposed to be fun! With RSpec, you can go from a raw image to a calibrated profile graph in just a few clicks. See a star’s spectrum in real-time at your telescope!
Click the image below to watch a one-minute video that shows a live spectrum in RSpec:
Want to see what else you can do in spectroscopy? Check out our Sample Project page: link.
See how others are using RSpec with these exciting projects: link.
To view additional videos, click here.
To read more about RSpec, click here.