d CFHT Cloudcams



The Cloud Camera is an experimental high sensitivity camera mounted to the catwalk of CFHT. The purpose of the camera is to take pictures of clouds and other weather at night, even on moonless nights. It only operates from sunset to sunrise.

To learn more about astro-photography and to see some amazing images and movies please visit the Hawaiian Starlight section of our website.

What you are seeing:

Because of its sensitivity, even very faint things in the sky can appear very bright. The moon looks a lot like the sun and the planets appear brighter than we are used to seeing them. Even a crescent moon is so bright it saturates the image like the sun does to normal cameras. You can usually tell the difference because when the moon rises you will still see stars but when the sun rises all the stars disappear.

Everything in the sky rises and sets at a different time each day. The "Guides" tool annotates images and movies with approximations of constellations (in red), the names of the five brightest stars in the view (in white), and the planets plus our moon and the sun (in blue). These positions are recalculated for each image to make sure the positions are accurate.

This camera is facing East towards Hilo and you can usually see the lights of the city and the belt road through Hamakua along with boats and barges on the ocean. You can also see inter-island and mainland flights arriving and departing from Hilo airport.

If you think you may have seen a mythological object in the sky like Nibiru, a second sun or Planet X, please check the Guides to see if it is in fact a well-known member of the solar system before making any assumptions.

About the time-lapse videos:

The camera takes a picture every 30 seconds and compiles time-lapse movies from those pictures. Keep in mind that time appears to be accelerated in these movies so airplanes appear as streaks and ships appear to move quite quickly.

You will need a recent version of the Adobe Flash plugin to view time-lapse videos in your browser. If you don't have the plugin there are links that let you download the video files. All of the pages automatically refresh when new content is available.

During the night the 2-hour video is updated every five minutes. At the end of the night, all the images are compiled into one video that is archived. The Guides are drawn using tools from the astrometry.net package and the Pyephem ephemeris package


This camera is located on the Canada-France-Hawai-Telescope on Maunakea:
19.8253° N, 155.4696° W altitude: 4,204 meters

Using these images:

Images and videos from the cloudcam are released under the GNU Free Documentation license which allows you to copy, redistribute and modify these images for free or for profit as long as you attribute CFHT. Any derivative works must also be licensed under the GFDL.

Please note that other images on the CFHT website are not included in this license and have their own copyright and license requirements.

Questions or comments please contact kanoa at cfht.hawaii.edu