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    UK Astronomers Record The Night Sky


    by NTDTelevision

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    Astronomers have been studying the night sky for centuries. Now they are also recording it for posterity. Lets take a closer look.

    The International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Discovery tracking across the night sky, 400 kilometres (250 miles) above the UK.

    It's one of thousands of images captured by a special low-light camera trained on the sky from an observatory north of London.

    Astrophysicist David Campbell wanted to let students check online if was too cloudy to work at the University of Hertfordshire's Bayfordbury Observatory - but he's ended up creating a unique database of the stars.

    [David Campbell, Astronomer]
    "The thing is this is a record of the sky and no one's taken a record of the sky every single night."

    Astronomers sometimes appeal for help from each other in identifying celestial phenomena - hoping someone was pointing their telescope at the same part of the sky at the right time - and they now have a record to refer to.

    [David Campbell, Astronomer]
    "Say there was a supernova that was bright enough to be seen by the camera, which is - would be quite rare, probably very rare, but if it did happen we could actually provide data of the whole event. So, at the moment you only notice a supernova when it happens, the instant it happens it suddenly peaks in brightness and then fades away. You don't know what happened before so you cant see the lead up to the big peak where you actually notice it."

    The AllSky Camera has captured real-time images of various lunar effects like this lunar halo or these moon dogs - both caused by moonlight refracting through ice crystals in the atmosphere.

    But this is what Campbell is really interested in - meteorites.

    [David Campbell, Astronomer]
    "I think they are just really cool -- they are just a bit of space."