Webcam skywatch experiment - August 2004
In my search for unexplained sky phenomena I hooked up my digital video camera to my computer.
The setup - I use an old Sony DCR-PC2 digicam and connect it by Firewire to my old Dell Win2K PC. The only freeware video program that works with this setup is FWink. It takes a picture every minute and stores it as a 600*800 bit jpeg. The pictures are renamed and stored using a VBScript program. I analyzed all the pictures with IrfanView and selected the most interesting ones.

Sampling frequency too low - In a period of 3 days I took more than 3000 pictures (sometimes the programs would crash and stop recording). It is quite disappointing how few pictures contain anything interesting. One picture every minute is too slow to catch everything that happens in the sky. A random sky event - a bird or plane passing by - takes several seconds. It would be much better to take a picture every second.

Results - Below you see the most interesting pictures I selected. I did use IrfanView to enlarge some pictures and enhance the contrast. No other processing was performed.

Weird objects - UFO's or not?

I don't know what this roundish object is. It does not look like any of the explainable objects I recorded. I have no idea how far the object is from the camera. It is no bird, insect or plane, it's too big and too round for that.

Neither do I know what this is. It might be a bird flapping it's wings, or a small sports plane. But it is a weird shape indeed. Compare it with the other bird pictures, lower on the page.

Light phenomena - I don't understand how the dark room can be illuminated at night. Are those car headlights shining into my room at 3:00 AM? Or a burglar with his flashlight? Not very likely ...

Moving dots by night - Most probably these are insects illuminated by the lamp on my balcony.

But the weird thing is that many other insects are easily recognizeable. Look at the moths below. Are the dots just insects at a greater distance?

Moving dots by day - Again, I think these are insects.

Below are some easily recognizeable insects.

Moving clouds - It is nice to look at all the moving clouds. This way you can see their movement and development. I even have shots where you can see two different cloud layers moving in different directions!
Airplanes and contrails - I was very disappointed by how few airplanes I was ale to record. There are lots of them flying overhead.

Birds - Lots of them, but still much fewer than you can see with the naked eye. And they come much closer, but then they are probably too fast for the camera to catch them.

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Petr Kazil

August 2004