An astronomer asked a local winery owner in Lodi for permission to place the cameras on his property, which offers clear skies.
Every night at Heritage Oaks Winery, a screen pulls open on the contraption, and the cameras capture video of the night sky in search of meteors to validate minor showers.
The NASA-funded project, called "Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance," is aimed at pinpointing the location of meteor showers and looking for comets that could potentially strike the earth.
The cameras' recordings are stored in a row of computers. Astronomers collect the data every few weeks and use it for research.