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All-Sky Camera and Weather Station Recommendations?

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#1 li37483

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 08:11 PM

Hello,

 

I am building my own remote observatory in Lockwood Valley, CA. I want to get an all-sky camera and a weather station.

 

Please give me some advice on the all-sky camera and weather station. Which ones should I buy? Why? 

 

Thanks,

Chester



#2 MJB87

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 09:19 AM

There have been several recent threads on this topic. Lots of useful information. Suggest you start by looking through this one (for weather stations): here



#3 TeslaTrek

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 06:37 PM

For a weather station, many people have purchased them From Davis.  I have the Vantage Vue.  Davis is expensive and they are no longer the only game in town.  Another option is the Ambient Weather, such as WS-2902.  I think what you may want is a weather station that will upload to Weather Underground.  Both Davis and Ambient Weather does this.  I use Davis primarily because I upload my weather data also to the National Weather Service and that is their standard.  

 

As far as all sky cameras, I first used Starlight Xpress, Oculus.  It has a unique way of always finding which USB port is on.  That's nice.  However, the Oculus software leaves a lot to be desired.  Use it only to just get an black and white image.  If all you want is a monochrome image than fine. At the end of the night in can create an AVI from the individual images, which will be huge.  You will need some other software to convert it to an MP4.

 

  I think that the acquisition software is more important than the camera. I really enjoy when the software identifies and labels the bright stars in the sky.  I have also tried Alcor systems Alphea camera.  The camera works great.  The software, called SkyWatch, will identify your bright stars and planets and even outline the constellations.  However you can't customize the star catalog... yet.  It's automatic exposure algorithm was a bit wonky for my skies.  Both apps can FTP your images to a web site.

 

Very important for me is that the All Sky Camera have a dew heater.  Oculus and Alphea both have one.  Dew always seems to hit when the sky is clearing.

  

Alternatively, I'd heartily recommend the FREE software from AllSkEye at  It connects to Oculus and several ZWO cameras, including Alphea, and others. Check their website.  Lots of features and the developer has been releasing an update and new features about every 2 months.

 

You can even customize the star catalog in AllSkEye.  I have added many of the Messier and Caldwell objects to the catalog that I'm interested in.  However to display the stars, you must determine an "optical transfer function".  Basically you calibrate your camera using a nighttime image.  It took me several hours but it was worth it.  (You should also know that the to use the star catalog, you need to very precisely determine your optical center.  Sounds easier than it is.)  AllSkEye will generate an MP4 video after the nights session and generate a folder of meteor detections!  Most of the time it catches planes but you can tweak the detection parameters and get more meteors..

 

As a bonus, if purchase the Pro version and you can support the "SOS Children Villages". 



#4 li37483

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 03:28 AM

Thank you so much for your detailed response. I think you got some really great recommendations. I will definitely look into the products you recommended. 

 

Thanks again,

Chester

For a weather station, many people have purchased them From Davis.  I have the Vantage Vue.  Davis is expensive and they are no longer the only game in town.  Another option is the Ambient Weather, such as WS-2902.  I think what you may want is a weather station that will upload to Weather Underground.  Both Davis and Ambient Weather does this.  I use Davis primarily because I upload my weather data also to the National Weather Service and that is their standard.  

 

As far as all sky cameras, I first used Starlight Xpress, Oculus.  It has a unique way of always finding which USB port is on.  That's nice.  However, the Oculus software leaves a lot to be desired.  Use it only to just get an black and white image.  If all you want is a monochrome image than fine. At the end of the night in can create an AVI from the individual images, which will be huge.  You will need some other software to convert it to an MP4.

 

  I think that the acquisition software is more important than the camera. I really enjoy when the software identifies and labels the bright stars in the sky.  I have also tried Alcor systems Alphea camera.  The camera works great.  The software, called SkyWatch, will identify your bright stars and planets and even outline the constellations.  However you can't customize the star catalog... yet.  It's automatic exposure algorithm was a bit wonky for my skies.  Both apps can FTP your images to a web site.

 

Very important for me is that the All Sky Camera have a dew heater.  Oculus and Alphea both have one.  Dew always seems to hit when the sky is clearing.

  

Alternatively, I'd heartily recommend the FREE software from AllSkEye at  It connects to Oculus and several ZWO cameras, including Alphea, and others. Check their website.  Lots of features and the developer has been releasing an update and new features about every 2 months.

 

You can even customize the star catalog in AllSkEye.  I have added many of the Messier and Caldwell objects to the catalog that I'm interested in.  However to display the stars, you must determine an "optical transfer function".  Basically you calibrate your camera using a nighttime image.  It took me several hours but it was worth it.  (You should also know that the to use the star catalog, you need to very precisely determine your optical center.  Sounds easier than it is.)  AllSkEye will generate an MP4 video after the nights session and generate a folder of meteor detections!  Most of the time it catches planes but you can tweak the detection parameters and get more meteors..

 

As a bonus, if purchase the Pro version and you can support the "SOS Children Villages". 




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