All-Sky camera tests under way at Virtual Telescope
At Virtual Telescope we are testing an all-sky camera to make possible for us to look at the whole sky, both for weather checking and for further astronomical purposes.
Of course, before opening and running a remote telescope, one has to be sure that the weather there is clear, so a camera covering much of the sky helps a lot to look up before starting the session. At Virtual Telescope we already had such a system, but we wanted more: not only a system to check for clouds and rain, but also able to record a good number of stars, covering almost the full sky, with chances to cover meteors, fireball and more.
For this, we started experimenting with a camera allowing for long exposures, pushing them on the web, as soon as they are downloaded and here we present the first results. The camera is a ZWO ASI120MM, with its fish eye lens. It can be controlled with a few software packages, we are using FireCapture 2.3. Then, images are uploaded on our website thanks to a script we wrote, so the sky can be seen from our website.
Above is a single exposure, coming from 60 seconds of integration: North is on the left, East on the bottom. Lots of stars and the Milky Way are easily visible. These preliminary results are very promising.
Now, we are working on the software, to make the published images as much useful as possible.
Below is a time lapse covering more than 4 hours, obtained on 25/26 June 2014:
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