I went through over a thousand live webcams on the Internet to see what people are sharing live now. My estimate is somewhere around 10,000 overall. Many of them have half sky (show half the image with sky) and in those they will capture comets, meteors, satellites, stars, planets, planes and many meteorological events. Of course lots of clouds and hydrometeors. Few allsky cameras, even the observatories have poor methods and standards – lossy formats, no archives, clumsy and home-make interfaces.
What I was looking at today and yesterday is whether it was possible to use the occultations of an earth orbiting satellite (Hey Elon , put all sky cameras on all your satellites and share) to gather data on stars and other things.
This video shows some of the difficulties of a human-guided telescope.
ISS through my Telescope (Compilation)
Also, I was looking at home made radio telescopes that people have made, and their view of the sky might be something like 10 degree and locked to vertical. That tracks a 24/7 swath of the sky that repeats fairly closely.
You could put an optical telescope with some magnification. Not the 50 mm view of a human, or the 2.8 mm view of an all sky camera, but something like 1200 mm that only sees a small path on the sky. But its higher magnification picks up interesting details. Now consider what would happen if there were millions of allsky cameras recording the sky, and millions of telescopes – all recording and sharing.
We have people looking through telescopes in many places and they take a few pictures, share mostly lossy format images, and almost all work alone. So allsky, permanently sharing views of the sky, globally is something new – if it is sustained. It has value to schools and education, to self-learning across all ages, to weather ground truth of global and local climate models, to time keeping and earth rotation studies, for comets and other things.
Did you know that dark frames of a camera will often pick up cosmic rays and local radiation events? Can’t point you to a link just now, but thinking that you might want to program in some dark frames for your all sky cameras, monitor the temperature of the sensor, and do things to measure and calibrate your noise. ALL noise is someone else’s signal. I even wondered if it were possible to get time on large telescopes – during the day when they are not used – to use them as noise telescopes to pick up magnetic and gravitational changes in the statistics of the electrons in those massively parallel readings of tiny noise events.
I track the whole earth for all the sensors that are getting to the sensitivity where they can pick up gravitational “noise”. I wrote about some of what I am doing and why. Not sure anyone will be interested, but it is at
Some Notes on applications for MEMS gravimeters and their global calibration
Richard Collins, Director, The Internet Foundation