This Guy Photographed the Moon and Jupiter with a Game Boy Camera

Astrophotographer Alexander Pietrow recently made some unusual photo history: he is apparently the first person ever to photograph the Moon and Jupiter using a Game Boy Camera.

First released in 1998, the Game Boy Camera is a monochrome, 2-bit camera that packs a 128×112-pixel CMOS sensor. At the time of its introduction, it was the world’s smallest digital camera.

“I wondered if it would be possible to do astrophotography with this camera,” Pietrow writes. “Searching the internet I was surprised that nobody had tried this before and decided to give it a go.”

He decided to pair this “ancient” digital camera with an ancient telescope: the 6″ Fraunhofer telescope in Leiden University’s Old Observatory — a telescope that dates way back to 1838. Using a Gosky Universal Cell Phone Adapter, Pietrow managed to align the Game Boy Camera with the telescope’s eyepiece.

“The biggest issue was a typical Dutch one: waiting for a cloudless night,” Pietrow says. For some test shots, he shot a photo of a nearby church clock tower to test the imaging quality:

A Game Boy Camera test shot of a clock tower (left) compared to the same view captured with a modern camera.

After waiting a few weeks, the clouds parted and the night sky was finally visible. Pietrow took his camera into the observatory and began shooting. He photographed the moon through the viewfinder for wide-angle shots and through the telescope for detailed views. While the viewfinder photos weren’t very interesting — they only showed the phase of the moon — the zoomed-in photos actually captured the moon’s craters using the low-fi camera.

The moon through the viewfinder.
The Moon captured through the telescope. The craters are visible.

After shooting the moon, Pietrow then aimed his unusual camera setup at Jupiter. He was surprised when one of the photos actually captured three of Jupiter’s moons.

And that’s how the world’s first Game Boy Camera photos of Jupiter came to be.

Image credits: Photographs by Alexander Pietrow and used with permission