Allsky1 Camera System at Starlight Cascade Gardens & Observatory


Page Created: 2003 September 03
Page Last Updated: 2017 February 01

Welcome to Starlight Cascade Observatory Night AllSky1 Camera Page!
Near Yarker, Ontario, Canada.
(44.22.39 N 76.45.47 W    151M Elevation)

See also our Allsky2 System running since 2012 June 08.

AllSky1 Camera System


The allsy1 camera system here at SCGO (running since 2006 December ) consists of an SBIG ST237A camera (parallel port and control box interface) with an integrated wide angle lens, mounted on an 8' post attached to the SCG Observatory, taking 90 second exposures all night long. This current ST237A system was a donation from Dr. Robert Nemiroff in late 2006. It is based on the CONCAM system, used around the world in various observatories.

The previous system (2003-2006) consisted of a downward looking PC Supercircuits low light camera and a reflective hemispherical mirror - the system sensitivity was not good. The old system (2003-2006) barely picked up all of the stars in the Big Dipper. The new system routinely picks up the Milky Way Galaxy.
The system is highly automated and will post jpg images of the nights run each morning around 08:15 local (Eastern Time).


Relatively realtime data

If any of these images are empty, this generally means that the system was not active the night before or that image processing has gone wrong :)
Most recent image: 50167 Mar 24 08:15 current.jpg

Panorama:
Most recent video: 32132 Mar 24 08:15 today.avi
Weather Underground PWS IONTARIO51
Latest image: (normally the last image of the run)
Mar 24 08:15 tonight/today.jpg
Latest days images
#images today: 410
http://clearoutside.com/forecast/44.37/-76.77
Complete Image Archives of:
Allsky Camera images stored in folders by date (JPGs since 2007, PNGs since 2012aug09).
Complete Daily Animated .AVI 2014Dec11 and newer) #avi's this year: 762
Complete Daily Animated .GIF (2014Dec11 and earlier) #gif's this year: 4
Collection of midnight images from 2012 #midnights: 81

Most Recent Special Events

  • 2012 Sept 24 01:41:27 UT (Sept 23 21:41:27 EDT) 8 second long fireball approaching mag -3?. Starts high and east heading north, continuing out of the frame. Gets brightest in midflight, then flickers in brightness. 1st quarter moon is up.

    Allsky1 90 sec exp

    Allsky2 compilation image

    Allsky2 .AVI video (8sec 5mb)
    -
    http://amsmeteors.org/fireball_report/
  • 2012 Sept 22 00:29:46 UT (Sept 21 20:29:46 EDT) Fireball reported across SE Ontario and New York State, 90 second exposure, appears low in the NE Est mag -11 Mostly below the treeline from the allsky2 viewpoint but the brilliant flashes still show up.

    Allsky 90 sec exp

    Allsky2 compilation image

    Allsky2 .mp4 video (10 sec 16mb)
    -
    http://amsmeteors.org/fireball_report/

    The event images before and during.

    Allsky1 System Log

  • 2017Mar20 - system restarted with new small 4" dome overtop of SBIGST237A camera system. Seal not complete, open to air but not rain. Main reason is to protect from rain. Reset start and stop times and noticed frost in the morning. May need heater again as well.
  • 2017Feb27 - water in the lens. The system will be down for the new few days while the lens is removed and dried out.
  • 2017Jan01 - celebrating 10 complete years of this system in operation (since 2006 December). THere have been a few downtimes, mainly when the old computers with an LPT: port dies in the outdoor cold (has gotten down to -35C) and the time needed to find a replacement. The camera itself has been solid.
  • 2016Oct20 - looks like the mechanical timer that starts and stops power to the camera control box is failing... the camera shut down at 01:28 EDT this morning instead of 08:00 or so. will remove the timer for now and leave the camera controller on 24/7
  • 2016march31 - fixed code generating daily .avi summary of images.. we including older images as well
  • 2016Jan22 - update code references from 2015 to 2016, especially in the processing of grabbing and displaying midnight images.
  • 2015Oct19 - system failed last night, first time in many months. will manually watch over it this evening. Since the camera was removed from the housing, the CCD temperature and peltier cooler are working much better now, on the order of 25deg C
  • 2015April12 - completely removed camera system from existing housing and 14" dome and mounted in a similar orientation on the same post just the camera system with integrated lens. DOcumentation suggested the system was waterproof and it would remove the huge heating requirements of a 14" dome airspace, a 2nd optical surface and fewer bugs sitting on the inside of the dome.
  • 2015Feb18 - .avis have been small but poor quality.. change starting tomorrow using modified conversion parameters /web/allsky1/ffmpeg -r 10 -i %05d.jpg -vcodec mpeg4 -b 800k today.avi will increase file size from approx 1.5MB to 4.6MB
  • 2014Dec11 - added new FFMPEG to software resources and from today onward will generate much smaller .AVI files (<3MB) replacing the larger .GIF files (!40MB)
  • 2014Dec10 - removed radiojove software from this computer and put onto standalone laptop
  • 2014Jan25 - added radiojove software radio skypipe to this computer as well as the RJ webcamera. 24vdc power supply for heaters still working. Extreme cold temperature mean the heaters cannot keep up. Exposure time still 90sec. Considering a move to 60 sec. would have greater percentage of dead time as images download, from 10% to 15%. Would get better exposures when moon is up. Moving object detection/exposure should not change.
  • 2013Oct - 12vdc power supply for circulation fans failed.
  • 2013Aug10 - Power system reconfigured, now all parts of system now on UPS.
  • 2013Aug08 - some part of the system is not on the UPS and whenever there is a short power outage, the recording of images for the night ends and does not restart. Flies and bees still getting inside dome. TIme to think about redesigning and rebuilding the camera housing.
  • 2013Feb25 - replaced laptop with desktop again.
  • 2013Feb24 - replaced temp desktop with 10-13 year old dell inspiron laptop (pentium mobile @2.0hz, 512mb RAM, 40gb IDE drive). Totally underpowered and failed to run the ccdsoft software.
  • 2013Jan23 - computer crashed again. turned off around 22:00 today for repair.
  • 2013Jan22 - discovered allsky desktop computer crashed around 23:00 EST Jan 21 due to extreme cold. Restarted at 20:00. Crashed again around 21:08 Jan22. missed a good meteorite over NY state.
  • 2012Nov21 - the batch script to start the ccdops program under windows 7 now works much better and is automated again.
  • 2012Nov20 - autostart scripts failing the last two weeks.. needed manually startup every single night. Finally think this is now fixed for tonights run.
  • 2012Nov16 - added in American Meteor Society maps for the events we captured.
  • 2012Oct04 - everything seems to be working fine. annotations are good. Built winter insulating cover for desktop allsky1
  • 2012Sep03 - replaced laptop with old desktop for now. mostly operational. needed a lot of configuration tweaking. Also seem to have an older version of CCDSoft then we used to. strange. internal FITS headers are different and that broke some of the scripts. The temperature and exposure data annotations are still failing on the midnight images.
  • 2012Aug31 - allsky1 laptop hard drive fails. Ran diagnostic and many many sectors are toast and unrecoverable. Looking to rebuild a new computer. Allsky1 will be out of service until this is done.
  • 2012Aug24 - updated annotation scripts again to add Eastern Time (-5/-4 UT). Black plastic mask around lens positioned well to block local houses direct light. Starting to shift start and end times again as sunrise and sunset are later and the nights are getting longer. Housing still needs new coat of white paint, dome needs a cleaning.
  • 2012Aug09 - the new png scripts worked well but the uploads to this server did not. Also the noise moves around a lot.. changing to -noise 3 for tonight.
  • 2012Aug08 - change batchfits processes to create .PNG images instead of .JPG; also change -noise 1 to -noise 2 in an attempt to get rid of the noise in the images since the ImageMagick upgrade on June 23, 2012
  • 2012july06 - new network cable laid to observatory and new gigabit switch. changed processing for 'collection of midnights'
  • 2012may01 - network to observatory failure again from april 30th 17:00 to 06:30 today. temporarily fixed, awaiting new network cable installation. Partial data collected. Adding enhanced annotation to images, part 1 (north,south,east,west)
  • 2012april26 - added Aurora Collection
  • 2012april23 - created new collection of images every midnight for an easily accessible historical record of that nights sky.
  • 2012april23 - big wind and snowstorm overnight. Looks like the lens mask has shifted position twice through the storm.
  • 2012march16 - network switch port burned out/dead, moved to a vacant port, all good.
  • 2012march15 - very close lightning storm strikes, lost network to observatory
  • 2012mar07 - data processing glitch.. will take another day to work itself through
  • 2012Feb20 - laptop back in service, allsky partial run, complete run Tuesday Feb 21st evening.
  • 2012Feb17 - laptop harddrive fails, allsky out of service
  • 2012Feb08 - removed internal mask #2, installed slightly larger internal mask #3
  • 2012Feb05 - removed internal mask #1, installed internal mask #2
  • 2012Feb04 - removed external light mask from dome, installed internal mask #1
  • 2012Jan19 - indications of failing network cable to observatory, especially in cold (-20) weather. Will wait for good connection on warm day, transfer over images from local observatory storage and reprocess manually.
  • 2012Jan11 - removed .mpg generation of large .gif as it was overwhelming the old slow processor on the web server and locking up the whole site for an hour each day. total combined parallel heater resistance=33ohms@24vdc giving 17 watts of heat.
  • 2011Dec16 - broke the main processing script on Dec 13 and just repaired this morning
  • 2011Dec04 - replaced the dome and platform, replaced circulation fan with a larger one and mounted it inside the dome, remounted the two resistive heaters.
  • 2011Nov04 - fixing some of the code for archiving images and animations.
  • 2011Sep28 - added new "slide show" method of displaying the nights run of images, in addition to keeping the old one.
  • 2011Sep19 - now annotating CCD Temp in Deg C, and now exposure time! CCD temperature starts out at about 17- -11=28degC below ambient. By the end of the nights run it is 12- -11=23degC. This has improved slightly since the housing vent was installed. The first image of the night shows the camera at ambient.
  • 2011Sep18 - removed housing door and installed vent with insect screen as camera was often 5-10 degrees C above ambient at the start of the nights run.
  • 2011Sep16 - change startccd time from 00:30 UT to 00:01 UT
  • 2011Aug02 - problems on the last two nights runs. should be fixed for tonight... just as the clouds come in :)
  • 2011Jun19 - close to solstice, changed start times to 01:59UT (21:59EDT) as camera is oversaturating and process the last images at 08:00UT (04;00EDT)
  • 2011May13 - startCCD time has been 01:19 UTC (21:19 EDT) and stop time 08:23 UTC (04:23 EDT) for some time now and even then the start and end are overexposing. Problems with the parallel skypipe software interfering with ccdops seem to have been resolved as well.
  • 2011Mar26 - changed StartCCD time to 00:30 UTC (20:30 EDT) and stop time to 10:00 UTC (06:00 EDT)
  • 2011Feb22 - changed StartCCD time to 23:45 UTC (18:45 EST) and stop time to 11:15 UTC (05:15 EST)
  • 2011Feb15 - changed processing scripts a bit to lighten the images as they had become too dark since migrating over to the laptop. Changed startccd time to 18:32 EST changed STOP time to 06:04EST
  • 2011Jan13 - another laptop (7 years old) installed with all software and allsky now up and running again.

    Older System Events

  • 20110907 - applied coat of rainx to dome. looks pretty scummy and full of dead wasps :) Placed laptop and power supply into environmental box for the winter.
  • Image Archives of:
    Allsky Camera Image Archive stored in folders by date. #days/folders: 794
    Animated .AVI #gifs: 762

    There is a 18watt wire wound resistor heating the dome interior powered by a 24VDC wall adapter controlled by a mechanical timer running only from 18:00-06:00 local time. The dome has two vent holes in its base where a small computer muffin fan (1 watt) runs 24/7, providing circulation into the lower housing which holds the camera, cables and connection points. The USB 5m active repeater is not in use at this time. Bugs do get into the housing which needs to be sealed better. Images are captured by CCDOPs software running on a Windows XP workstation saving the images to a linux file server. The camera and the heater shutdowns down near sunrise and starts up before sunset and runs on a mechanical 110vac timer.
    Our latest system went live in 2006 December. These images are of the system as of 2008 August.

    Images of the system as of 2012 February:


    Meteor Event Archive

  • 2012 April 18 08:43:27 UT (04:43:27 EDT) Fireball not so low in the west. 90 second exposure ending at 08:43:27 UT
    i - http://amsmeteors.org/fireball_report/
  • 2011December12 23:04:42 UT (18:04:42 EST) Fireball low in the west south west The Selwyn meteor
    before during after all in 90 second exposures. - http://amsmeteors.org/fireball_report/
    Here are the three images integrated into an animated .GIF (561kb)
  • 20110410 Big! Fireball western bound
    before during after - http://amsmeteors.org/fireball_report/
    all in 120 second exposures.
  • 20090824 at 21:15:38 EDT Fireball near Arcturus in a 120second exposure
    - http://amsmeteors.org/fireball_report/

    Non-Meteor Event Archive

  • 20121009 Aurora 20121009.gif (45mb) best beween 20:00 and 21:00
  • 20120426 04:40:39 -8 Iridium Satellite Flare 58 deg Alt, 247 deg Az. Iridium 77
  • 20120426 Aurora 20120426.gif (37mb) from 22:00 to 01:00
  • 20111024 aurora-20111024.gif (32mb) from 19:30 to 05:00
  • 20090718 ISS & Shuttle 120 sec exp
  • 20090617 Meteor? near Vega 120 sec exp, No ISS, no Iridium flares at this time.
  • 20090508 ISS Pass Mag -2.2, alt 81deg plus flaring
  • 20090511 ISS Pass Mag -1.5, alt 50deg
  • 20090413 Moon rising above light shield at an altitude of 12 degrees.
  • 20090316 ISS1 and ISS2
  • 20090218 meteor
  • 20090216 Venus Low flying aircraft aircraft Leo and Saturn
  • 20081222 Frame 1 Frame 2 of an interesting lighted pass of some object, probably low flying aircraft at 23:19:05 to 23:22:25 local. 180 second exposure each.
  • 20081223 Video with updated annotation (27mb) animated .GIF
  • 20081124 First video with working annotation (28mb) animated .GIF
  • 20080220 Total Lunar Eclipse 2008 February 20 (7mb) animated .GIF

    ToDo List

  • 2012may01 - replace glossy plastic lens mask with flat black mask.
  • 2012apr26 - add time zone; add kingston az=124, harrowsmith az=66, hartington az=46, verona az=26, enterprise az=219, napanee az=227; add circle of actual field of view without mask
  • 2012april23 fasten down lens mask, replace network cable out to observatory in a protected conduit, check for insect infiltration into the dome.

    References

  • http://lunarmeteoritehunters.blogspot.ca/
  • American Meteor Society Fireball Reports
  • North American All-sky Camera Database
  • Meteorite and Impact Advisory Committee of the Canadian Space Agency * How to Report a FireBall

    Check for false positives

  • Heavens Above Main Site
  • ISS Pass Predictions for Kingston Ontario
  • Iridium Flare predictions for Kingston Ontario (highly localized!)

    AllskyCam reference info

  • Canada AuroraMax camera in Yellknofe NWT * website: http://aurora.phys.ucalgary.ca/
  • Meteor Detection Systems: The Saskatchewan Fireball Camera Network
  • University of Western Ontario Meteor Physics Group (UWO)
  • North York Astro Assoc (NYAA) Lorenz Observatory All Sky Camera [Oak Heights]
  • Cloudbait Observatory (Colorado USA) * Allsky camera
  • Moonglow (Missouri USA)
  • SBIG Cameras
  • IRF (Sweden)
  • Sodankyl (Finland) does not operate in northern hemisphere summer due to high latitude
  • Churchill auroracam