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All Sky Cam Project

At a recent society night Keith described how he has built an all-sky camera, mainly from parts he had laying around, the camera is capable of producing a live view of the sky, time laps video summary of the night, can upload the images to a website for public viewing and can be used as an ASCOM compliant sky sensor.

This short article provides some notes to help others wishing to do the same.


Parts needed:

  • PC/Laptop (windows)
  • A CCD/CMOS Astronomy camera (with ASCOM drivers)
  • Fish eye lens (Keith use a 2.1mm CCTV Cmount lens)
  • Long USB cable 
  • Rechargeable dehumidifier 
  • Water proof electrical junction box 
  • 3.5″ Acrylic dome (from dewcontrol.com)
  • Plumbers Mate putty (to seal the dome to the junction box)
  • AllSkEye software 
  • Tektite Skies software (ASCOM cloud sensor software based on all sky camera)
  • 1 Ohm resistors (to make dew heater – although dewcontrol.com make them if you don’t want to make your own)
  • Rain-X Plastic – to reduce raindrops and dew on the dome.
  • USB female panel mount connector
  • 12v power supply – for the dew heater


Key Features provided by AllSkEye 

  • Can run 24/7 automonously
  • Acquire images during pre-set or calculated (e.g. night) times
  • Place latest image on the Internet (FTP)
  • Can automatically creates video files of saved images
  • Add overlay on images (e.g. timestamp, compass, text)
  • Can save files in FITS format
  • Detects meteor trails

Key Features provided by Tektite Skies

  • Able to detect stars and clouds
  • Can send an email or sound an alert when sky is clear
  • Start and stop times
  • Optional free ASCOM interface


All sky camera built by Keith Rickard

More information can be found in Keith’s Original Presentation.

Have you made one? Have other ideas on how to make an all sky camera? Leave a comment below

AM or PM for meteor observations?

It is well known that you see fewer meteors before midnight than after. This is explained by the fact that before local midnight Meteors hitting the Earth’s atmosphere must be travelling in the same direction as the Earth, so the relative speed of the meteor to the Earth is smaller, whereas after midnight the Earth is passing through Meteors on the Earth’s leading edge, so the relative speed of the meteors are faster, and since the speed the meteor hits our atmosphere affects its brightness we should see more after midnight than before.

My own experience sifting through the meteor candidates from our camera and observing over long periods, suggest this bias should be easy to detect, so now that we have over 15 months of data, I thought I’d see if this bias in observations was real. 

The UFO analysis software categorises the meteors into named showers, if a shower can’t be identified it is classed as a sporadic meteor. I have only used the sporadic meteors in the analysis to minimise any bias due to known meteor showers.

My (very simple) analysis suggests on average you are 2.7 times more likely to see a meteor after midnight than before, a much larger factor than I’d expected.


Plot showing the number of sporadic meteors per hour over a 15 month period as captured by the Meteor team using the Societies meteor camera. Overall you are 2.69 times more likely to see a meteor after midnight than before.

Does this reflect your experience? Comment below.



Transit of Mercury, 11th November 2019

Despite the poor weather our members were out in force observing the transit of Mercury across the face of the Sun, something that has to be done carefully to be safe.

There were 8 members and 4 visitors at the Observatory with a variety of ‘scopes . Rita and Honor also had their PST’s on hand. Other members observed at their homes or online.


White light photo by Mike Rushton taken 14:50 on 11/11/19. C8 with f/6.3 focal reducer on HEQ5 Pro. Full aperture glass solar filter Canon 60D at prime focus ISO 1600, Exp 1/400 sec.


Image by Janice McClean


Image by Martin Crow 2019-11-11 14:53UT Ha Image


Image by Honor Wheeler in White Light


Image of the Transit of Mercury 11/11/2019 by Richard Bohner

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