Very much a work in progress yet...

I've built an aurora cam using a 4K Spinel camera which is built around a Sony IMX415 sensor.

Spinel UC80MPD

I installed the camera itself in a halogen security light enclosure--plenty of room after removing the halogen light fixture.  That is mounted on an electrical junction box.

Inside the electrical junction box is an Odroid XU4 running Ubuntu 20.04 and a python3 script I wrote to capture images at roughly 3 per minute beginning at nautical twilight in the evening and ending at nautical twilight the next morning.

After image capture all the images (roughly 1200 jpgs per night) are put together into a timelapse movie using ffmpeg.

The mp4 movie is then uploaded to the StarHouse Observatory web site and is available for viewing below.


Currently the images are obtained using the Video4Linux software.  v4l2-ctl is used to bump the gain to 200 and to set the exposure to manual and the maximum exposure time.  Instead of seconds exposed it is in units with the maximum to be 10000.  I believe this roughly translates to about 1/3 of a second--not really enough to capture very many stars in the North.   Casseopeia is readily recognizable in the early evening and the Big Dipper is just coming into frame before the end of the run.

fswebcam is used to do the actual image capture and make the jpg.

Image stacking will be required to reduce the noise introduced by the gain set moderately high and to enhance the visible stars.  As a part of that I'm transitioning to either OpenCV or SciPy.  Either can capture video images far faster than fswebcam.  Both should allow image stacking in memory before writing the image data to a png file.