WSO AllSky Camera

AllSky Camera AllSky Camera
AllSky Camera System

The Watauga Skies Observatory "All-Sky" camera. The camera consists of a PC164C b/w video camera sensitive to 0.0003 lux with a Rainbow f/1.2 6mm lens. An acrylic dome shields the internal camera components from the elements. The camera is used to determine if such a setup can provide meaningful science in a highly light polluted area, such as the Fort Worth/Dallas metroplex.

A small 12 volt power supply for the camera is housed in the bottom of the outside PVC housing and provides a modest supply of heat for the camera. This is necessary since the dome is exposed to the sky temperature close to 0 degrees Kelvin of space. Without some heat supplied, the dome radiates heat to cold space and cools well below the local dewpoint temerature and quickly fogs over at night.

The black base for the camera dome was drilled with a circular hole saw to accommodate the width of the fish-eye lens and a 1/8" air gap to allow air circulation from the fan located below the camera. Two 1/4 watt 82 ohm resistors (not shown) are inserted in series with the power and ground leads to the fan to provide a low volume, yet suitable air circulation rate. The unit is sealed to outside air to preclude the intrusion of particulate air contamination that would eventually contaminate and cloud the lens and the dome interior. The exterior of the dome is treated with Rainx to diminish exterior dome contamination.

Fireball over North Texas Skies!
still image of meteor track

The streak of a fireball (bottom-center) captured by the AllSky camera at the Observatory at 04:45 CDT in the morning. The Moon is located at the bottom-left.

A fireball is a brighter-than-usual meteor. The International Astronomical Union defines a fireball as "a meteor brighter than any of the planets" (magnitude -4 or greater). During its brightest phase, at "full Moon", the Moon has an apparent magnitude of about 12.7. By comparison, the Sun has an apparent magnitude of 26.7.

Click Here to see the Latest Fireball Movie (443kb)