La Société Guernesiaise Astronomy Section

All-sky camera

The Guernsey Observatory is currently the location of an all-sky camera, one of a network of such cameras placed by the University of Hertfordshire.  It has been in operation since 09 August 2011, taking pictures of the entire night sky every couple of minutes, uploading them to a website in real time, archiving them, and creating a nightly video, which is itself uploaded to the website.  These images and videos can be accessed at http://star.herts.ac.uk/allsky/index.php?c=5. (Note June 2015: Because of computer failure, the camera has not been operating since 01 May. Archived images and videos are still available on that website.)

 

The camera is a Santa Barbara Instruments Group AllSky 340 monochrome camera, using a Kodak KAI-340 CCD, 640x480 pixels, each 7.4 microns square, and a high gain output stage. It has a Fujinon fisheye lens, focal length 1.4 mm, F/1.4, with an acrylic dome cover, and an internal heater to keep the lens free from condensation and the dome free from dew. Raindrops have to evaporate naturally.  More details are available at the above website, and a brief description of the installation is contained in an article in a newsletter, accessible here.

 

Here are some pictures of the camera, and some of the interesting images which have been recorded.

 

DSC04001    DSC03455

 

AllSkyImage000225687

A typical clear-sky image taken at midnight UT on 01 October 2011, showing, prominently, the Milky Way and Jupiter.  North is up, east left and west right. 2-minute exposure.

 

AllSkyImage000222287 ISS (best one)   AllSkyImage000281976 Aircraft

 

International Space Station, 28 September 2011, 2-minute exposure.             Aircraft, 28 November 2011, 45-second exposure.

 

AllSkyImage000239844 Iridium flare    AllSkyImage000266702

                                                              Iridium 56 flare, 15 October 2011.                                                          Fireball (a very bright meteor), 13 November 2011.

The fireball was observed by Daniel Carvill, who described it as large, green, very bright, and visible for about 5 seconds.

 

000192707 Barn Owl   AllSkyImage000236161

A Barn Owl has been a regular visitor, using the camera as a convenient perch.  The left image shows it as a ghostly outline, as it was present for only part of the 2-minute exposure.  The right image shows it in detail in a 17-second exposure on a cloudy night.

 

The nightly videos clearly demonstrate the apparent rotation of the stars, as the Earth turns on its axis.  Click here for a good example (flash video, playable, for example, with RealPlayer).

 

Link: NASA’s all-sky fireball network.

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This page was last updated on 2015 June 05.

 

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