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3towers Observatory All Sky Cam


The Moonglow Technologies All Sky Cam  was used from 2011 until January 2018 when it was replaced by the Starlight Xpress Oculus All Sky Camera. The Oculus camera is more sensitive than the Moonglow Technologies camera, but it has a significant disadvantage of being too sensitive to take daytime images. Thus, it is not a good camera to use for all sky monitoring day and night. It is a very good camera for all sky monitoring at night.

The Oculus uses a SuperHAD CCD from Sony with low thermal noise and a very fast electronic shutter. It has a f/1.2 2.5 mm 150 degree fisheye lens. It is also USB powered making its roof top installation easier as no power cord line needs to be run. However, it does require a 12 volt input to drive the built in anti-dew heaters. Since dew is not a common problem in Southern Arizona, the anti-dew heaters on the camera are not used. The Oculus replaced the Moonglow camera on the roof using the same roof mounting system as previously, being mounted 40-inches above the roof with a long J pole mount attached to the roof. The USB cable from the camera is run through a conduit down the north side of the house and through the wall into the controlling computer which uses MaxIm DL to run the camera. The camera's 4.65 x 4.65 micron chip has an image format of 1392 x 1040 pixels.

Any exposure from 0.001-second and longer can be used with the Oculus camera. The sky conditions at the 3towers Observatory (~19.6 magnitude/arcsecond squared) are typical for moderate suburban light pollution. The summer Milky Way can be seen overhead and to the north, and on the best of nights after midnight the winter Milky Way can be faintly glimpsed. The Oculus camera gives good sky results with exposures of 1-30-seconds depending on the conditions and the results desired. Exposures of 60-seconds and greater show beginning star trailing. The three radio towers to the northeast of the house are considerably over-exposure on most images.

On the north side of the house there is a Ubiquiti UniFi Indoor/Outdoor wireless access point for data transmission between the house and the observatory, which sits 220 feet north of the house.


Oculus All Sky Camera

Oculus All Sky Camera


UniFi outdoor wireless router

All Sky Camera, conduit, and outdoor wireless router


  ALL Sky Cam and Oculus Camera Images


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