All-Sky camera

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:

All-sky all-sky_camera

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 image from Tromsø, north is to the right, south to the left, east is up and west is down
All-sky image from Tromsø, north is to the right, south to the left, east is up and west is down

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!