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"Skycam" wide-field sky cameras online

1930 BST 16 April 2009
SkycamA & SkycamT images
SkycamA and SkycamT example images

Two Andor CCD cameras have been put into use on the LT as part of the SkyCam project, which aims to provide wide-field coverage of the whole sky and the region around the point the LT is looking at (see the Skycam page for full details).

At present there are two cameras: "SkycamA" is mounted inside the LT enclosure on the A-frame. It is fitted with a 4mm fisheye lens and therefore provides near all-sky coverage down to about 6th magnitude, about the same limit as the human eye. As a consequence of its fixed position and field of view, the LT itself can be seen in most of the images.

The other camera is "SkycamT" which is mounted on the LT itself and co-points at approximately the same region the LT is looking at. It has a field of view of 21° and can detect sources down to about 12th magnitude.

Both cameras take images once per minute when the enclosure is open, using a 10s exposure time. The images are immediately sent back to the LT archive where they are autonomously dark-subtracted & flat-fielded, a world coordinate system fitted if possible, and duplicated as JPEGs. All imagery is then released straightaway on the Skycam page — the data is public to all and may be used for any non-commercial scientific or educational purpose.