Cloudbait Observatory Home

Welcome to Cloudbait Observatory, located under the dark skies of the central Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Cloudbait ObservatoryHere 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.

International Year of Astronomy

A very bright fireball exploded over eastern Colorado on December 14 at 7:50 pm MST. This event was widely witnessed along the Front Range and from surrounding states. From Denver, its terminal explosion appeared about 100 times brighter than the full Moon. The meteor was very slow and entered at a shallow angle, terminating just 10 miles above the ground. There is a very good chance this event produced meteorites on the ground. An analysis of this fireball is available here. If you saw this meteor, please report it.
The 2017 Geminid meteor shower peaked on December 13/14. The Cloudbait camera captured a couple hundred Geminids over the previous four evenings, but was snowed out on the peak. You can see a composite meteor image and get more information from my report.
The great American solar eclipse occurred on August 21. I made an imaging expedition to the centerline in Wyoming, and successfully captured a wealth of imagery (which will take me months to fully process). In the meantime, read about my trip and see my initial results at here.
The 2017 Perseid meteor shower peaked on August 12-13. Despite interference from a full Moon and continued monsoonal weather conditions, the Cloudbait camera caught many meteors and fireballs. You can see a composite meteor image and get more information from my report.
A very bright fireball exploded in the sky over northern Colorado on Monday morning, August 1, 2016 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 2001. There have been 2 fireballs recorded in the last seven days:

 Tue, Feb 20 
 11:55 pm 
 Mon, Feb 19 
 2:55 am 

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, 24 Feb 2018
Today's SunToday's Moon

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.

© Copyright 2018 Chris L Peterson. All rights reserved.