Understanding the weather conditions on Mt. Hopkins is important for the MMT. The skycam system was installed for this purpose. Throughout the day, images are generated and stored by the skycam system. After the day has ended, a full 24-hour movie is generated and stored as well. This website allows for quick lookup of our archived images and movies.
The MMT all-sky camera is a low-cost, wide-angle camera system that takes images of the sky every 10 seconds, day and night. It is based on an Adirondack Video Astronomy StellaCam II video camera and utilizes an auto-iris fish-eye lens to allow safe operation under all lighting conditions, even direct sunlight. This combined with the anti-blooming characteristics of the StellaCam’s detector allows useful images to be obtained during sunny days as well as brightly moonlit nights. Under dark skies the system can detect stars as faint as 6th magnitude as well as very thin cirrus and low surface brightness zodiacal features such as gegenschein. The total hardware cost of the system was less than $3500 including computer and framegrabber card, a fraction of the cost of comparable systems utilizing traditional CCD cameras.
Note that the image archive only goes back two months while the movie archive goes back two years.