Friday, February 19, 2010

Meteor Hunting Software – UFO Capture

The final piece in the puzzle is some meteor detection software. There is only one real meteor detection software that I could find that allows real detection and analysis of meteors to be performed. The software is called UFO Capture and comes from a company in Japan called Sonotaco ( There is a great community of meteor capture enthusiasts that actively participate in the forums and the support from Sonotaco is second to none.

UFO Capture is extremely tailored to the capturing of meteors and other atmospheric events, such as lightning or sprites etc. There are many parameters that you can set including filters for noise and masks to avoid slow moving objects or flickering objects. Additionally the software can even email you when it captures something which is extremely handy for a remote setup like mine.

The software can also be set to only detect at certain times, based on the Sun rise and Sun set times that are automatically updated daily by the software. That’s great for saving power and avoiding birds in the morning. You would be surprised how many birds fly over the camera filling up your precious hard disk space (and inbox!).

In the following screen shot of UFO Capture, the camera was placed inside a dark box to take a 'dark frame'. Turning on the scintillation mask exaggerated hot pixels that are remain on after long exposures (the hot pixels are not really that big in size). You can see that there are about 10 in this camera. The remainder are just random noise. It is not unusual for a CCD to have hot or dead pixels and these shouldn't cause an issue for meteor detection.

UFO Capture Main Detection Screen - Dark Frame

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