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  • Ville Puoskari

New all sky camera!

Ive wanted to build a good quality all sky camera for about a year now but I just havent had the time to do it. Now that its finally operational Im really excited about the possibilities. I bought a ZWO ASI178MC and after months of waiting (thanks to the global pandemic..) I received it three weeks ago. Soon after I built a housing for it out of PVC pipe.

Also I wanted the camera to be accessible from ground level to prevent any accidents if I need to do some maintenance. So I built a mechanism to tilt the pole 90 degrees. The axle is 10mm threaded rod and chain prevents it from going too far down. I also added a lock to prevent any unwanted visitors to gain access to the camera - atleast without tools or brute force. On the pole there is also one of many security cameras aswell, main purpose of this one though is to see how much snow is on the observatory roof.

For the software Im using AllSkEye - which seems to be an excelent choice for anyone trying this kind of build. It has alot of options that are really useful. Like creating a mask for the pixels that calculate automatic exposure time. My camera is using a fisheye lens so this helps alot, because the camera over exposes the image quite easily. This happens because the sensor is not completely illuminated due to heavy vignetting in the corners of the image. Folder management is also very handy, the app can delete old images automatically, save original .fits to a diffrent folder and also upload .jpg images to website via FTP. It even has a line detection system that can automatically detect possible meteors from the images! I havent had an oppoturnity to test the correct parameters yet. If it works it would be easy to report fireball observations. It could also have a small scientific contribution. If many cameras in diffrent cities have detected the same meteor it could be possible to model an area where a possible meteorite has landed. These kinds of observations and modeling has been done already in the Finnish amateur astronomy community, I hope some day images taken by this camera can also help.

I also implemented my weather station data to be seen on my website. Software called IrfanView simply takes a screenshot every 5 minutes of an app thats running my weather station and another software uploads it to the FTP server. I would love to get this info to be on top of the image, but for now AllSkEye doesnt support ASCOM weather stations. Hopefully this would be possible in the future. You can see live image and weather data of this setup here. :)


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