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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 Meteor Calendar on the Meteor Showers page has been updated to show all significant 2017 showers.
The 2017 Quadrantid meteor shower peaked on the morning of January 3. The Quadrantids are the first shower of the new year, but are best seen as the end of the shower season that began in the middle of the previous year. The weather and the Moon were favorable for this year's shower, allowing the Cloudbait camera to capture 90 meteors over four nights. You can see a composite image in this report.
The 2016 Geminid meteor shower peaked on December 12 and 13. The skies were generally clear, but a full Moon created interference which made dimmer meteors invisible. The Cloudbait camera captured 236 Geminids over six nights. A composite image and some of the larger fireball videos are available in this report.
The 2016 Orionid meteor shower peaked on the morning of October 21. Weather conditions were fair, but a waning gibbous Moon created interference which made dimmer meteors invisible. The Cloudbait camera captured 95 Orionid meteors over four nights, and 136 meteors total (many showers are active at this time). A composite image and a fireball videos are posted in this report.
The 2016 Perseid meteor shower peaked on the morning of August 12. Monsoonal storms interfered until after midnight, but it then cleared until dawn, allowing the Cloudbait camera to capture 167 meteors. You can see a composite image and some of the larger fireball videos in this report.
A very bright fireball exploded in the sky over northern Colorado on Monday morning, August 1, at 3:23 am MDT. I estimate its brightness to be at least magnitude -12, about the same as the full Moon. I have heard from one eyewitness in Denver. It was captured on the allsky camera on the roof of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, showing its early flight, a huge fragmentation event, followed by the flight of the remaining material. I also caught it from Cloudbait Observatory, but only as a bright flash behind clouds. Based on the pair of cameras, I estimate the explosion occurred near Cheyenne, WY at a height of about 105 km. The meteor was possibly a member of the Southern Delta Aquarid shower, but was more likely a sporadic. If you saw this meteor, please report it.
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.
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.
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
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, 25 Jul 2017
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.