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The Game Boy Camera is Making History

Curators’ Corner

The Game Boy Camera is Making History

If you grew up in the 90s, then the mention of a Nintendo Game Boy will likely kick start a joyous walk down memory lane. You might remember passing long hours on seemingly endless road trips to a National Park in the middle of nowhere, smashed in the backseat between your siblings, taking turns playing Kirby’s Dream Land or Super Mario Land. Although the Game Boy was groundbreaking technology as the earliest version of a handheld gaming system with interchangeable cartridges, and you may have felt transported to other worlds while playing, it is doubtful that even your childhood imaginative self could dream up using your Game Boy to photograph celestial bodies.

Alexander Pietrow has a Master’s degree in astronomy and double majored in astronomy and physics at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Needless to say, he is used to thinking outside of the atmosphere. While playing around with the Game Boy Camera, first released in 1998 and once recognized as the smallest digital camera, he wondered if he could use the monochrome, 2bit, 128×112 pixel CMOS camera for astrophotography.

As reported on a Leiden University forum, Pietrow used the “1838 6” Fraunhofer telescope in the Old Observatory in Leiden in combination with a ‘Gosky Universal Cell Phone Adapter’… to properly align the camera with the telescope eyepiece.”

After capturing an impressive (albeit 2bit) image of the moon, Pietrow aimed the Game Boy Camera at Jupiter. To his amazement, was able to not only make out the planet, but also discern three of its moons.

Pietrow made a small piece of history by being the first person to photograph the Moon and Jupiter using a Game Boy Camera, hopefully inspiring all of the 90s kids out there to retrieve their Pogs and Skip-Its from the attic to invent new and creative uses of their old toys. See Pietrow’s device and photos on PetaPixel.