Red Barn Observatory MPC/IAU3 H68
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All Sky Fireball Camera System
Installed at the Red Barn Observatory
Daylight and clouds through the fireball camera.
The Sandia All Sky/Fireball Camera arrived on June 21, 2007, and was up and operating on June 22, 2007. This camera continuously monitors the entire sky for meteors, and can operate day and night. The photo below shows how the camera arrived (with the weather proof dome sitting on top).
The Camera The Control Box
The duct tape was removed as well as the top PVC flange. This exposed the threads in which the clear dome attaches.
The camera transmit video through a standard RG-6 / 75 ohm television cable. The RG-6 cable connects to the control box (shown above) and then to the computer by means of a CAT5 crossover cable. It will also connect through a hub with a standard CAT5 straight cable.
Installation of the camera was not too difficult. There was one particular place I wanted to mount the camera on my house - where I thought it would get the best view of the sky. To do this, I would need to build a simple "platform" for it to rest on, but it needed to be very sturdy to withstand the sometimes violent storms we have here in southern Georgia. The platform below was built entirely of treated 2x4's and very sturdy. The camera is simply mounted with 8 - 2" screws.
The camera operates from 120v AC. Power is supplied by 12 gauge wire ran through electrical conduit - to protect the wires. To allow the camera to be turned on and off without "un-plugging" any power cords, a Square D "shut off" box was installed. This works very well and looks more professional.
To mount the camera to the house, I first used 4 - 3 1/2" galvanized screws to attach the platform to the roof, and then 8 - 2" screws to attach the camera to the platform.
After I verified that everything was set-up and operating properly, I installed the software and took the first photo.
First Light Longer Exposure
Not too bad, but needed a little focusing. In the photo above, you can see one security light at the 9 o'clock position and two distant security lights at the 5 o'clock position. The brighter light located just left from center is the moon. Venus can also be seen in this photo at the 6 o'clock position. A little more focusing and then everything was set.
The software, Sentinel User - 10/11/06, is fairly easy to use. Once installed, you simply click on the sentuser icon and it loads (picture 1). Click on the "Connect" button (picture 2) and it connects to the camera. Then, click on the "Watch" button (picture 3) and the camera is enabled and watching the sky. Once you click on the buttons, they will turn green to show that the program is working.
Camera in the rain.
The cameras do an excellent job as far as recording brighter meteors. I'm very pleased with it. But, the stars are hard to detect unless the skies are extremely clear! I've been working on this idea that will allow me to use a Planetarium Program such as TheSky or Cartes Du Ciel to "overlap" the image created with the Sentinel program. The program can be set to the particular time of the event (meteor) and the field of view can be changed according to the field of the All Sky Camera. Then, a screen shot can be taken of the planetarium program, and saved. Using a program such as RegiStax, the screen shot of the planetarium program and the captured composite can be adjusted and stacked to create artificial stars within the composite. The image below shows a "rough example" of the stacked images. This should work very well once everything is calibrated and adjusted.
Georgia Fireball Network
Copyright © 2006 The Cometary Space Web of Steve E. Farmer Jr.
Last modified 08/31/2010 02:26 PM -0700
This web site has been active since March 1, 2006
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