All Sky Camera Project
Design Notes

Page Created: 2003 August 27
Page Last Updated: 2005 December 11

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Design Notes

  • The camera system should be mounted high off the ground to clear local ground clutter and yet be accessible for maintenance.
  • We will want to be archiving 4 images per day, probably at 00:00, 06:00, 12:00 and 18:00. This will build up a long term image database for weather information and could potentially be used for cloud cover analysis.
  • We want to automatically archive motion detected captures and have them online.
  • The camera needs to be close enough to a structure with power to run the camera and the mirror heating system. In addition the cable run from the camera to the video recording source should be relatively short. We will attempt to run it into the observatory computer.
  • We need a hemispherical mirror (Mark I design) as the camera we have combined with the only C-mount lens we could find has only a 50 degree or so view of the sky.
    An All Sky Camera is basically a low light sensitive video camera mounted above a hemispherical mirror, looking down into the mirror, so that the camera images most of the Sky. We use an all sky camera to detect and record bright meteorites, typically called bolides or fireballs, in the hope of analyzing their trajectories and perhaps targeting any possible landing area, as large bright meteors tend to survive reentry and hit the ground.

    The concept is to build at least three of these units to allow for triangulation and possible trajectory determination in the Kingston Ontario region. Preliminary offers of interest include a Camera near Yarker, Inverary and Queen's University in Kingston.

    Estimated costs are: approx $200 for a 12-20" hemispherical mirror, approx $100-300 for a low light, slim profile CCD video camera, a dedicated computer workstation with a video capture card (alternatively a USB webcam video camera and capture software, no other capture hardware required), motion detection software (so it only stores data that indicates motion, saving lots of drive space). approx $50 for a platform to mount the mirror on with 5 watts of heating capacity to keep dew off the mirror surface and approx $50 to build a tripod to mount the camera in, for an estimated total project cost on the order of $500 Can.

    Three systems should be considered a minimum and more should be considered for redundancy and downtime issues.

    For question or comments about this page /allskycamera/design.htm contact us at kim or kevin (at) starlightcascade (dot) ca