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A view of the sky above Ladd Observatory showing a satellite flare from Iridium 39 (at left of center)

The SkyCam project is similar to The Night Sky Live which uses CONCAM (CONtinuous CAMera) all sky cameras to take images of the entire sky all night long. The images are then analyzed using this software and the data is made freely available for scientific and educational use. Update: the Night Sky Project is no longer active, see: State of the Night Sky Live Project.

A camera with a wide-angle lens has been installed at Ladd Observatory. This project will document the setup, configuration and operation of the camera. Possible topics include meteorology (cloud cover), detecting meteors and orbiting satellites, and possibly measuring brightness changes of variable stars.

Camera system[edit]

A sky brightness meter and sky camera on the roof of Ladd Observatory

The camera system is a commercial off-the-shelf model manufactured by Santa Barbara Instrument Group. It includes a weatherproof housing with a window that is heated to prevent condensation. The window is an optical filter that transmits light from 630 - 1000 nm (red to near infrared) and is used to block light pollution. Inside is an ST-402ME digital imaging camera which uses a monochrome 16 bit per pixel Kodak KAF-0402ME CCD chip with 9 micron pixel size. The camera body is mated to a Computar fisheye lens with 2.6mm focal length and a 1.6 focal ratio. The field of view is about 140 x 90 degrees.


The Sky Camera was permanently mounted on the roof of the Ladd Observatory on Dec. 13, 2010. It is now operational. Here are some results from testing the camera.

Leonids (2010)[edit]

A series of images were taken during the morning of Nov. 18, 2010 for the purpose of testing the sky camera. This was the night of the Leonid meteor shower. Learn more at 2012 Quadrantids.

Quadrantids (2011)[edit]

Another series of images were taken during the early morning of Jan. 4, 2011 during the Quadrantid meteor shower. There was a large amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. The camera is very sensitive to moisture due to the near infrared filter. Learn more at 2012 Geminid Meteor Shower.

Recent activity[edit]

A recent SkyCam image of the conditions at Providence, RI.
Last image filename: 00003025.FIT
Exposure started: 2016-11-07T07:24:23.217 UTC
Image updated: 11/7/2016 2:24:34 AM

The image at right is an experiment in incorporating real-time data in a learning resource. A bot automatically uploads a new image and updates the image caption once per day. Check back to tomorrow to see a new image. See the test page at Mu301Bot/nelm for more information.

Depending on the local weather the image might be overexposed due to thick cloud cover or it might show stars. A complete list of uploaded images can be found in the image file history.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]