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Welcome to Cloudbait Observatory, located under the dark skies of the central Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Here you will find details about the observatory itself, its history (and my own as an amateur astronomer), the science I conduct here, and a collection of images I've made. Details of the instrumentation I use and some of the tricks I've developed to make it work well are given.
I am very interested in instrumentation, and much of what I design is freely available to anyone interested. Details about some of these projects are posted on this site.
I also enjoy both history and travel, and seek out places of special astronomical significance. The section on archaeoastronomy details some of the places I've been, and the historical astronomical sites I've explored.
The annual Quadrantid meteor shower peaked on the morning of January 4. Conditions this year were excellent, with clear skies and minimal interference from the Moon. Read my Quadrantid report for a composite image and technical information.
A very bright fireball exploded in the sky north of my Guffey camera on Saturday morning, October 3, at 5:16 am MDT. I estimate its brightness to be at least magnitude -12, about the same as the full Moon. I haven't received information from other cameras yet, but I expect to. If you saw this meteor, please report it.
The annual Perseid meteor shower occurred in mid-August. Although the monsoon season has not been kind to our Colorado evening skies this summer, I still captured many Perseid meteors on my camera (helped by the absence of a Moon this year). Read my Perseid report for composite images, fireball videos, and technical information.
On September 2, 2014, a Russian spy satellite decayed over Colorado. This decay produced a slow, bright fireball seen from New Mexico to South Dakota. It was caught on two of our Colorado cameras, and the trajectory determined. Details of this event are here.
There was a beautiful pre-dawn conjunction in August. Venus and Jupiter were close for a couple of weeks, separated at one point by only half a lunar diameter. As they pulled apart, they were joined by a fine crescent Moon. Some images of this event are here.
Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) has faded from easy view. It was a naked eye comet when it passed closest to the Sun in March, and remained a bright telescopic object for several months afterward. Images from Cloudbait can be seen here.
On June 5, 2012, Venus passed across the face of the Sun, a transit observable over much of the world. Despite marginal weather conditions, I was able to image this event from Cloudbait. A report is available here.
On May 20, 2012, the southwest experienced an annular solar eclipse. I traveled south to New Mexico to place myself on the eclipse centerline. A report is available here.
There was a total lunar eclipse on 10 December 2011. From central Colorado, the Moon was just entering totality at sunrise, providing an interesting photo opportunity. A report and some images are available here.
On September 2, 2011 the Cloudbait allsky camera captured three sets of sprites. Sprites are poorly understood electrical atmospheric phenomena that occur very high (50-100 km) above thunderstorms, and which are triggered by lightning below. Images of the captured sprites can be seen here.
On the morning of March 18, 2007, Pluto passed in front of a dim star, casting the shadow of the planet across North America. Examine the data collected from Cloudbait.
Looking for Colorado meteors? Check the new online
database of events recorded by the allsky camera network since late
There have been 5 fireballs recorded in the last seven days:
Meteor and fireball activity is high during the second half of the year. See how activity changes over the year.
If you live in Colorado or the surrounding states, and have recently seen a very bright meteor, please report it here. We continue to investigate bright fireballs, and now have an extensive network of allsky cameras in place to supplement witness reports. If you just witnessed a meteor and are curious if it was recorded from central Colorado, try the new real-time meteor log which lists all events captured by the Cloudbait camera as they occur. These events are normally processed into the main database each morning.
Read my discussion about an image by an Australian photographer purporting to show a meteorite impact.
Today's Sun and Moon, 30 Jul 2016
The material here is necessarily graphics intensive, but I've done my best to optimize the images so that download times should be reasonable even with slow network connections.
I'm happy to respond to emails with questions or comments. To avoid your mail being misidentified as spam, please make sure it has a subject line and no HTML content. If your email server implements SPF filtering, I may not be able to respond. SPF is a protocol designed to control spam, but it also blocks a lot of legitimate email. I would suggest you contact your ISP or mail administrator and have SPF disabled. In spite of its good intentions, it is a badly flawed system.