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Thread: Night time webcam

  1. #1

    Night time webcam

    Hello, all.

    New user, first post. I decided to not write anything about me in the proper thread because the reason I joined the forum, certain details about what I (plan to) do, and my question are tightly related to each other.

    Bear with me, please. I work in a scientific facility that makes certain type of observations of the sky both at day and night time. However, clouds are no good to what we do, so we can only take our measurements when the portion of the sky we look at is reasonably clear. Although all the members of the staff live in the vicinities of the facility--and we are quite used to check weather forecasts and satellite imagery to judge the sky conditions--oftentimes it is tricky to decide whether it is worth going to the workplace. And worse, oftentimes we find ourselves waking up at ridiculous hours only to meet a cloudy (and useless) sky once we get there.

    An obvious idea that comes up from time to time is installing a webcam pointing up the sky to check the weather conditions. Of course, day time is no challenge; even the cheapest webcam does the trick. My procedure consisted in taking shots every so often and making a time lapse with them. Although the individual quality of each frame isn't great, the time lapse video gives a very clear idea of what the clouds are doing.

    But night time...is a different story. I heard of hardware hacks among the astrophotographers community that enabled certain webcams equipped with CCD sensors to take long exposures. Apparently, one can not buy them anymore. On the other side of the spectrum, I'm aware of especially built CCD cameras to mount on the back of telescopes, but that doesn't quite seem to be what I'm after.

    Since what I'm ultimately planning to do is nothing more than a very particular type of digital photography, I thought somebody around here could give me some hints regarding the hardware needed.

    Kind regards,

    Jose

  2. #2
    Steaphany's Avatar
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    Re: Night time webcam

    Jose,

    I suggested that you take a look at the technology from http://www.stardot-tech.com/index.html

    They specialize in network connected high resolution cameras and image servers for 24 hour observations and distribution of imagery.

  3. #3
    Dizzy's Avatar
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    Re: Night time webcam

    Jose,

    If you can set up a small aperture telescope to view a section of sky out a clean window,
    then you can use a GSTAR-EX camera. The cameras can be controlled via USB, and I believe
    they can be accessed remotely via a number of methods. It would be cost effective, and could very
    likely give you the data you required.

    You can contact Steve Massey (designer and developer of the camera) via his website
    (My Astro Shop).

    My only caution with using any camera or telescope is to insure that it does not view the Sun
    during the daytime. The Sun's rays are amplified by the objective, and will destroy the camera.



    Mike
    Last edited by Dizzy; 11th September 2011 at 10:40 PM.

  4. #4
    Steaphany's Avatar
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    Re: Night time webcam

    The other day I received a Orion Telescope catalog and just glancing through it I found:

    Orion StarShoot AllSky Day/Night Camera

  5. #5
    Dizzy's Avatar
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    Re: Night time webcam

    Quote Originally Posted by Steaphany View Post
    The other day I received a Orion Telescope catalog and just glancing through it I found:

    Orion StarShoot AllSky Day/Night Camera
    Looks like Orion heard Jose's specifications, and developed a camera for the job....

    Orion just keeps coming out with new and innovative stuff! They used to have such a thin
    catalog, but in the past few years they seem to have just exploded with new products.

    Mike

  6. #6

    Re: Night time webcam

    Thanks for all the replies.

    The last suggestion, the Orion camera, is indeed perfect for the job. One would say too perfect, in the sense that it leaves no space for manual tinkering: plug it and job done (we love making stuff ourselves). I will show these findings to the team, although we are a bit tight at the moment and everything but the most minute amounts are to be spent on the core instruments. For this reason, I'm personally more inclined to have a more serious look to the GSTAR-EX one. Actually, it seems that these people had the same idea and implemented it using this particular kit.

    Thanks again!

    PS. If we come up with something cunning I'll make sure to post it.

  7. #7
    Dizzy's Avatar
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    Re: Night time webcam

    Jose,

    Seriously: get ahold of Steve Massey (designer of the GStar) and let him know
    about your project....there is little doubt he'll have interest in your project, and
    might be able to put something together well within your budget constraints.

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