This Guy Took Pictures of Jupiter with a Game Boy Camera and an Old Telescope
Image: Alex Pietrow
Why bother paying $8 billion for a gigantic telescope when you can just rig a Game Boy Camera to an antique telescope and take pictures of celestial objects? Leiden Observatory astronomy student and tour guide Alex Pietrow did just that, capturing pictures of the Moon so clear that you can even make out the various craters covering its surface.
Released in 1998, the Game Boy Camera was one of the first affordable digital cameras on the market, selling for just $50. The pictures it captured used all four shades of black and white available on the original Game Boy handhelds. People who wanted to show off their art were able to also purchase a Game Boy Printer that printed the pictures on thermal sticker paper.
Pietrow used a Gosky Universal Cell Phone Adapter to attach the Game Boy Camera to the 6-inch' Fraunhofer telescope in the Old Observatory of Leiden, which was built in 1838 and Pietrow had access to as a tour guide. The result is what he calls "2bit Astrophotography," and retro future visuals we can definitely get down with.
Not satisfied with just capturing our Moon—something a decent cell phone camera can do with the right lens these days—Pietrow set the sight of his late 90s Game Boy Camera a bit further, past the Moon and Mars, all the way to Jupiter. Surprisingly, the Game Boy Camera, which can capture black and white images at a 128x112 resolution (compare that with the 12 megapixel iPhone 7 camera), was able to capture not only Jupiter but also its four Galilean moons.
Pietrow told me over Reddit private message that he isn't finished and plans to use his Game Boy Camera skills to "get Saturn (with rings), maybe somehow the stripes on Jupiter and the Sun, and sunspots with a proper filter." Currently, he attends the Leiden University in the Netherlands but plans on moving to Stockholm, Sweden for his Ph.D. project where he hopes he'll be able to continue his "2bit Astrophotography."
If you're interested in trying your hand at shooting celestial objects with your trusty Game Boy Camera, you're going to be in for a lot of work. Not only do you need a Game Boy and its Camera peripheral, but also a few devices meant to hack the Game Boy as well as either an installation of Windows XP on a computer with parallel port or some fiddling with drivers on Windows 7.
Sadly the images don't look all that great when printed out on the Game Boy Printer's sticker paper, as the details aren't clear enough.