January 18, 2023
The all-sky camera on the Mayall telescope were the DESI instrument is located provides a view of the entire sky above Kitt Peak National Observatory. This camera helps observers monitor weather conditions and visibility, and confirm when it is safe to open the dome above the telescope. While the skies above Kitt Peak are very often clear, that is not always the case, as shown below in a series of camera images from the night of September 23, 2022. The night began with clouds and rain, and for over an hour flashes of lightning lit up both the sky and the camera view. Finally, toward the end of the night the storm gave way to thin clouds that allowed some stars to peek through. The final frame shows the Milky Way stretched across a mostly clear sky before the series starts over.
Credit: Luke Tyas
The all-sky camera can also capture celestial events, like the lunar eclipse that occurred on the night of November 8, 2022. DESI Lead Observer Luke Tyas created the timelapse below of the eclipse from 108 individual images from the all-sky camera. At first the full moon shines brightly just right of center, reflecting so much light into the sky that only a few bright stars are visible. As the eclipse begins the moon dims to a red dot scarcely brighter than the brightest stars, and the Milky Way can be seen following the eclipsed moon across the sky. As it nears the western horizon the moon emerges from the Earth’s eclipsing shadow, re-illuminating the telescope domes visible on the horizon and washing out the Milky Way.