Saturday, February 27, 2010

Permanent Mounting for the Meteor Camera

Finally I have a permanent mounting for the camera, complete with a custom made bracket. The mounting allows the camera aim to be adjusted, which is handy during installation. I don’t intend to move it once it’s in position.

I decided to point the camera at the South Celestial Pole (SCP) for several reasons:
- There will always be reference stars in the FOV
- There is no risk of the Sun shining directly into the camera
- Light pollution from the Moon is minimised

Using the scintillation mask once more from UFO Capture, I was able to exaggerate the stars that could be detected by the camera in the following image. That allowed me to identify the stars and pin point where the camera was aimed at.

White dots circled in red are actually hot pixels, determined from a dark frame image shown on a previous post. The camera is pointing slightly off from the SCP but it’s good enough for what we need. I used Starry Night Pro 4.5 to manually identify the stars in the image. I first tried overlaying multiple layers of the Starry Night image and the actual image from the camera but found that I could not match them 100%, I suspect that there is slight image distortion from the glass and perspex lens of the housing. Nevertheless, the image is close enough to accurately match the star patterns.

Note that the the faintest star that was masked consistently by the scintillation function of UFO Capture was at an  apparent magnitude of  6.12, identified as HIP109584 (circled in dark blue in the image). Hopefully this means that I can get consistent meteor detections down to an apparent magnitude of 6 all year round, weather and seeing conditions permitting.

I also used Starry Night to measure the angular separation between a few reference stars to get a feel for the FOV and these are drawn as yellow lines in the image.

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