Miraloma Park, Mount Davidson, and the Sky

I build cameras with Raspberry Pi computers to watch the sky so I don't have to. It's mainly about meteors, but also whatever else happens to pop up. That includes lots of airplanes, satellites, birds, and, yes, unidentified things to puzzle over. These two cameras are on my roof, one pointed east toward San Francisco Bay and the sunrise, and one west across the southern slopes of Mt. Davidson, highest peak in San Francisco (a sliver of the ocean visible at bottom left). Each camera takes thousands of pictures a day; this page shows a current view, and summary constructed views of what went on in the sky the last 24 hours.

Current Views

Uploaded every few minutes. Westward-facing camera on the left, eastward on the right.

Sunset/Sunrise Timelapses

Short videos of the most recent sunset and sunrise. Uploaded about an hour after the event.

Last Night's Images

Startrails reassure you that the earth is still spinning.

Animated startrails tell you which way it's spinning.

Timelapses stitch together all the images into a short video.


Photo Gallery

A spectacular meteor flashes over the southern slopes of Mt. Davidson in San Francisco after midnight January 4, 2024. A beauty!

This is a busy image, but worth figuring out. It's a startrails image of the whole night of Dec 17-18, 2023 in San Francisco. It was a miserable rainy night, as you can see from the crescent moon appearing and disappearing in the clouds. Also windy, which accounts for the jittery distant city lights. But the lightning over the ocean! Zoom in to see many bolts seeming to go right down to the water, lighting up the clouds from below. The streams of red and white lights are airplanes.

Animated version of the startrails. Click to watch.

A meteor looks like it’s plunging toward the ocean in the early morning of Tuesday, December 13, 2022. View west across Mt. Davidson in San Francisco. That’s Orion appearing in upper left, and the tiny dipper at center right is the Pleiades. Mars is at the top. Fog hovers over the peak at lower right.

A bird flies in a cloudy blue afternoon sky.

The moon throwing a moonbeam down through the clouds, looking like rocket exhaust.

Sun setting into the Pacific on November 29, 2022, with an airplane passing overhead.

Startrails, night of Nov 10-11, 2022. Image made from over a thousand pics taken that night. The moon is just entering the frame at sunrise, and you can also see sunSET from the day before at bottom left, over the ocean. Jupiter is the brightest trail. Trails at odd angles are airplanes, helicopters, and sometimes satellites.

Startrails, night of Nov 15-16, 2022. A bright airplane-pass, and a probable meteor. See below.

Here's the bright airplane-pass, at 10:05pm. The curved green line above it is almost certainly a distant airplane, too far for the flashing lights to be visible in the image. Why green? Most likely the camera sensors doing their best at the ragged edge of their ability to detect the light at all in this 30-second exposure.

And the probable meteor. It's straight and bright and not white, with no flashing lights, so it's probably not an airplane, though very distant planes can fool you sometimes. "Probable" because dim satellites can catch the sun just right and suddenly "flare" into momentary brightness, and that can fool you too. But the time of this one (3:27am) doesn't match any likely satellite. The strong purple color is unexpected from a satellite too, and would indicate a high calcium content in a meteor. Or yes, it could be the camera just doing its best to capture photons in a long exposure, like the green airplane above.