Build the Maryland All-Sky Network
We’ve received a huge outpouring of support from the University, astronomers, astronomy enthusiasts, as well as friends and family for our Build the Maryland All-Sky Camera Network. Thank you! We've passed our initial $5K goal and will set up 2 all-sky cameras early this summer. Each additional $2500 we raise will be used to install another all-sky camera in Maryland, expanding our network and giving us a more complete picture of the night and day skies over Maryland.
We still have time in our campaign: Help us fund another two cameras!
What is an all-sky camera?
An all-sky camera is a camera that has a wide-angle view (usually with a fisheye lens) aimed at the sky. All-sky cameras are used to monitor the night sky for shooting stars, aurora, light pollution and other celestial events. They can also be used during the day to watch clouds, precipitation, lightning and rainbows. All-sky camera image feeds are frequently streamed over the Internet for the general public to see and for astronomers to use for research projects.
What is the Maryland All-sky Camera Network?
With your help, we hope to create the Maryland All-sky Camera Network. A gap currently exists in the all-sky camera network over the state of Maryland. This crowdfunding campaign will support the purchase of two Starlight Xpress Oculus high-resolution all-sky cameras to be placed at the University of Maryland Observatory in College Park, Md. and at the Montgomery College Observatory in Rockville, Md. The $5,000 goal for this campaign also includes purchasing the computers needed to control the cameras, as well as store and stream the large volume of data that will be collected.
Both cameras’ images will be streamed live over the Internet, allowing you to witness celestial events above College Park and Rockville from the comfort of your couch. The images will also be saved for later examination and scientific research by faculty members and students into weather patterns, aurora and light pollution. By placing these two all-sky cameras in close proximity, astronomers can track the speed and direction of meteors, clouds, storms and other skyward events.
Why was Montgomery College selected for the second all-sky camera?
Montgomery College is a partner institution of the University of Maryland’s Graduate Resources Advancing Diversity with Maryland Astronomy and Physics (GRAD-MAP) program. Montgomery College was selected from the group of partner institutions because of its location (i.e., its distance from the all-sky camera at the University of Maryland Observatory will allow astronomers to track weather events between the two cameras) and the availability of staff at the Montgomery College Observatory to operate and maintain the all-sky camera.
What if we exceed our goal?
For each extra $2,500 we raise, we will purchase and place an additional all-sky camera at another GRAD-MAP partner institution around the state. Help us expand our program by sharing this website with family, friends and other astronomy enthusiasts.
About the University of Maryland Observatory
The University of Maryland Observatory celebrated its 50th anniversary in November 2014 and an all-sky camera has been on the observatory’s wish list for a long time. Originally built as a teaching and research facility, the facility focuses mostly on teaching and outreach today. The observatory has four permanently mounted telescopes on site and a collection of 12 portable telescopes used both on and off site. The facility hosts open houses on the 5th and 20th of every month to view the night sky; and school, scout and camp groups are invited to take field trips to the observatory during the day to view the sun.
The GRAD-MAP program, which is run by UMD graduate students in astronomy and physics, builds connections with mid-Atlantic minority-serving institutions through seminars, forums, workshops, science discussions and research. The overall goal is to connect promising students from these institutions with UMD faculty and give them the skills and experience to successfully pursue graduate degrees in physics and astronomy.
Gifts in support of the University of Maryland are accepted and managed by the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, Inc., an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization authorized by the Board of Regents. Contributions to the University of Maryland are tax deductible as allowed by law. Please see your tax advisor for details.