All Sky Camera

Live image

Between 50 minutes after sunset and 50 mins before sunrise  CLICK HERE to see the live image. 

From May to August the camera is usually turned off as it doesnt get properly dark in these months at our latitude. (>56 degrees North). If a strong Aurora is forecast it will be turned on.

The 'All Sky Camera' runs from about 50 mins after sunset to about 50 mins before sunrise. It is a ZWO ASI 178MC Camera with a 1.55mm Arecont ultra wide angle f2 lens which shows a 180º view - its like lying on your back and looking directly up.  The camera and a micro PC are housed in a waterproof box with an acrylic dome to protect the lens. The box lives on top of a fence post at the bottom of the garden and it is powered by a leisure battery housed in the nearby observatory and the battery is kept charged by a mains battery charger in the Observatory. The data from the All Sky Camera is fed into the local area network so the images and time lapses can be monitored and processed from indoors then passed to the router for access from the web. 

If you would like to make one for yourself it is quite straightforward. The full instructions for the actual construction and the free software to use with a Raspberry Pi are all located here. Or you can use a micro Windows PC like an Intel NUC and use a Windows programme like this one.

10th April 2023 - V2 ASC was initialised.

This was designed around a steel fuse box and a much larger dome to provide better heat loss. The heat from the mini PC is more than enough to keep the dome dew and frost free. The big step change was the addition of autofocus - it's easy to focus the camera without the dome in place but the focal point changes when the dome is added and I can't focus the lens with the dome in place! This setup can now be focussed remotely from inside the house. The tape wrapped around the bottom of the dome is intentionally an uneven shape - it masks the light from our house from hitting the sensor and excludes a view of any neighbours properties.

Using a much larger dome

Belts and Pulleys for an autofocus system

Stepper motor to drive the autofocus

ASCOM driver device to control the autofocus

Converter to use a stepper motor instead of a DC motor (more accurate)

Weatherproof box to put it all in

A camera to take the images

A Mini PC to run everything

Software to run the camera and create the timelapse and star trails and post them to the internet