The Towercam at the Mount Wilson Observatory is located in the San Gabriel Mountains about 9 miles NE from the city of Pasadena, California, which is on the northern outskirts of Los Angeles. The exact latitude and longitude is N34° 13' 28" and W118° 03' 31".

The Towercam Unit is mounted on the east side of the UCLA 150-Foot Solar Tower, at Mount Wilson Observatory. The base of this telescope is at an elevation of 5672 feet above mean sea level, and the towercam itself is mounted on a rail 150 feet above that. Typically, the towercam points towards the 100-inch telescope dome at an azimuth of 45 degrees east of true north.

It consists of a Kodak DC120 Zoom Digital Camera placed inside a Pelco environmentally controlled camera enclosure. This enclosure has a small fan and heater inside it to keep the front window free of fog.

The camera is controlled by Erdman Video System’s VM95 software running on a Pentium 500 Mhz computer under Windows98. The computer communicates with the camera via RS-232. Images are scheduled to be taken every four minutes and are automatically uploaded to the website. Visitors to the Angeles National Forest find it handy to consult the website to see what kind of weather to expect.

Towercam movement is controlled by using a standard TV antenna rotator. The rotation is in the horizontal plane only, and is manually controlled by the observer on duty. The field of view covers approximately 260 degrees ranging from Mt. Pacifico in the north to just past Mt. Harvard in the south. The following thirteen images were taken between August 1999 and September 2002 and represent some of the “Best Of” portfolio, more of which can be seen on the Internet. Thanks go to Larry Webster and the crew of the UCLA Astronomy Department at Mount Wilson Observatory for use of the images and information. Please visit the website to learn more about the project and to check on the area’s weather “twenty-four-seven.”


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