A common tool in auroral science is the all-sky camera. This is simply a camera fitted with a fish-eye lens and pointed upwards. This way it is possible to image the sky from horizon to horizon in all directions. Science grade all-sky cameras are sophisticated instruments with very high light sensitivity and ability to look at single light emissions at high time resolution.
In Tromsø all-sky cameras have been in operation since the international geophysical year in 1957/58. The particular camera originally used was designed by Willy Stoffregen, one of the pioneers in optical instrumentation for auroral research. Here are two pictures showing the all-sky camera design and the particular one in Tromsø:
Below we show an all-sky camera image taken with the not-science grade camera at the Auroral Observatory in Tromsø. This camera has a sensitivity comparable to the human eye, which makes it useful to check if there is aurora outside without leaving the sofa:
All-sky cameras are also popular among amateur astronomers to check the cloud cover and also among meteorite hunters. In Norway the Norwegian Meteor Network is setting up all-sky cameras in order to identify meteors/fireballs.
In the auroral zone Auroral tourism is a rapid growing industry. Among auroral guides it is very common to use real-time all-sky camera data in order to monitor the aurora and cloud conditions. The Norwegian Center for Space Weather is looking into setting up more all-sky cameras in Northern Norway in support of the auroral tourism industry. Here we have compiled a list of links to the pages in Northern Fennoscandia where all-sky images may be viewed in real-time, note that science grade cameras are usually turned off when the moon is up:
Andøya – ALOMAR
Andøya – University of Oslo (Science grade)
Tromsø – Tromsø Geophysical Observatory
Tromsø – Ramfjordmoen (colour) – University of Nagoya
Tromsø – Ramfjordmoen (colour) – National Institute of Polar Research
Skibotn – University of Oslo (Science grade)
Kiruna – Swedish Institute for Space Physics
Abisko – Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory (Science grade)
Abisko – Hiroshima University
Sodankylä – University College London
Sodankylä – Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory
Finland (many locations) – Finnish Meteorological Institute
There might be more, let me know!