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FitsCast - FITS file webcasting

or: how to use a professional CCD camera as a webcam

Many thanks to these contributors to FitsCast
Martin Burri for contributing Fits_push on my request
Irfan Skiljan for the nice freeware program IrfanView


Standard webcams like e.g. Philips ToUcam have been used for webcasts (also astronomical events). A lot of software exists which can save individual webcam images as JPG-files for immediate broadcast to a website via FTP file transfer.

High quality CCD cameras like the Artemis have a lot in common with webcams. They are computer controlled and save images continously on the computer hard disk. However, the software interface and file formats are different from webcams. High quality CCD cameras can usually produce files in the FITS format (FITS = Flexible Image Transport System), suitable for astronomy. The FITS format is not directly suitable for webcasts, however, because of the large file sizes and general incompatibility with web browsers. Also, images in FITS files generally need some processing before they are ready for viewing.

Enter FitsCast. This program solves the problem described above by allowing FITS files to be automatically processed and converted to JPG, which are then uploaded to a web server via FTP with regular intervals (default is every 30 seconds).

To Use FitsCast, you use your ordinary CCD camera capture software and instruct it to save the captured images as FITS files to a predefined directory. Each new file should be saved with a new name (do not overwrite files as you will want to process them after the webcast is complete). Then start FitsCast and set it to watch the folder you are saving FITS files to. Use the "..." button on the top to navigate and press "Start" to start the watch. As soon as FITS files are stored to that directory, FitsCast will notice it and prepare for automatic image processing and FTP upload.


Processing is done in two automatic steps (both done in the background):

You can modify the processing parameters during the webcast. If you do, press the "Apply Params" button to let the modified values take effect in the next processing cycle.

FTP Image upload

Once processing is complete, the resulting JPG file is uploaded to the specified FTP server. You need a user name, password and optionally a remote server folder to be able to upload images. You must also specify a fixed file name for the JPG file.

On the web server, a web page or other software must exist to pick up the incoming JPG file so it can be seen with any web browser from anywhere in the world.

Release Notes

V2.2 20 February 2007
Fixed a bug that might prevent JPG webcasting to work if the IrfanView FITS pluging was not installed.

V2.1 20 February 2007
Added support for JPG-files as input instead of FITS. This enables webcasting of DSLR images when the DSLR software downloads JPG files to a disk folder being watched by FitsCast. Notice that if you do this, you must check the "Bypass" option for Fits_push, and set suitable options for IrfanView command line processing.

V2.0 11 October 2005
Re-packaged V2.0 as a stand alone installation

V2.0 28 September 2005
Changed FTP behaviour. Previously, a new FTP connection was established for every image upload. Now the FTP connection is established when pressing "Start" and kept between uploads. If the FTP server times out between uploads, causing upload failure, one automatic reconnect and upload attempt is made in order to restore "normal business".

V1.0 24 September 2005
Initial version

Program Download

Legal notice: All information and software in this page is Copyright (c) Carsten A. Arnholm. You may download and use the software for non-commercial purposes according to the licencing terms specified on this page. Contact the author for permission prior to using the software for other purposes. You may not distribute the software to any third party.

Disclaimer: The author regularly uses the software on several of his computers and firmly believes that the software is without any damaging effect, including the computer and other hardware and software. Nevertheless, the author accepts no responsibility for damages resulting from use of the software and makes no warranty or representation, either express or implied, including but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. The software is provided "AS IS" and the author does not assume or accept any risk by its use.

Download: By downloading any software, you agree that any use of the program is at your own risk.
Download (6 MB, V2.2, 20 February 2007)