Build a sky camera using the Raspberry PI with the following objectives.
  • Monitor cloud cover (from video and through image analysis)
  • Detect Meteors and link into a meteor network
  • Visual aide to seeing if it is clear at the observatory and thus worth a trip

This project will also feed into the remote observatory project.

Leader - Andy Smith
Members - Simon Dawes

I've finally managed to get the first phase of my software development for a 'Sky Monitor' (for want of a better name) to a usable state.

The 'Sky Monitor' uses a Raspberry Pi 2 (RPi) with the NoIR filter camera module.

I've currently added a link to my my home site (Three Stories High) where I'm starting to document progress and you can also access the website hosted on the RPi via 'Sky Monitor' - Project Status.

The app is currently running constantly, but when being updated or out for field tests it will not be reachable until back on an accessible WiFi network.

In summary:
  1. A script runs once every 60s to capture an image with a shutter speed anywhere between 20µs to 6s.
  2. Numerous values are calculated such as the 8 bit values for Red, Green, Blue, Hue, Saturation and Lightness and some other values that I'm hoping may be of use during analysis.
  3. The RPi hosts it's own web server that is slowly evolving to display various graphs to provide both a real time and historic view of the data collected.
  4. I've recently added some astronomical 'current' values such as sunrise, sunset, sun and moon positions. Please note the position values currently used should be accurate to within a degree - I'm looking to improve the accuracy as I get to grips with all of the calculations.
  5. When the calculation have been refined to a much better accuracy they will be added to the data collecting script so they can be used to help determine good conditions from bad.

In general my plans are to look at purchasing a more robust RPi case and one that will allow me to replace the stock lens from the camera with others using the S-Mount connection. I'm hoping if I can fit a wide angle x0.5 lens it may provide enough additional light to detect more than 'is it cloudy or clear'.

Other things I'm looking to add, either to this new Pi 2 or my old one is a GPS module, Barometric, Temperature, Accelerometer and Humidity sensor(s) ... but the current focus is to collect as much data using the camera and determine which measure are useful.

At present I'm trying to provide updates via my home website (See links above) as they can be rather adhoc and messy, but I will provide more thoughtful and composed updates here. If anyone has any questions or suggestions then please either get my attention at the Thursday meetings or via email.

On Friday 17th July 2015 I managed to attempt a photography session on M81 & M82 while making use of the data collected from the Sky Monitor. Details of the session and data can be found at 'Sky Monitor' - First use during Astrophotography Session.

Suggestions on other possible uses of the current data and other possible values to gather would be most welcome.

Update - 12th August 2015

There are now two devices:
  • Static 'Sky Monitor': this one is basically the Raspberry Pi and Camera only with all location data hard coded into the device when installed at it's intended location.
  • Mobile Monitor: this device consists of the Raspberry Pi, Camera, 110 degreee field of view lens, GPS, Barometer, Magnetometer, Accelerometer and Hygrometer. It runs in 'Sky Monitor' mode, so basically the same as above but records 'live' data for location, altitude, orientation, barometric pressure, temperature and humidity. In 'Meteor Monitor' mode it constantly records 6 second duration images for later review and analysis.

I aim to run 'Meteor Monitor' mode during the night of the 12th August and hope there are a couple of breaks in the clouds.

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Page edited 7 times. Last edit by - absmith63 absmith63 on Aug 12, 2015 3:00 am. This site contains 560 pages
CMHASD - skycam