December 15, 2003: Not too much is new since September. Other revenue-generating (!) commitments kept me from making any further progress on the automation projects. I did, however, install the new Optec focuser but I had so much trouble getting good flat field corrections that I removed it until I installed flocking paper inside it - this cured the internal reflection problems that I was having.
During the fall we did manage to observe about 700 faint galaxies in our new supernova search program. Paul Gray has organized a program of about 2000 galaxies in the northern sky that we will be systematically searching - no discoveries yet! We are still in the process of taking reference images.
On November 8th Clint Shannon and Mary Lou and Lloyd Whitehorne came over to watch the lunar eclipse. Clint and I took photographs of the eclipse using the Genesis telescope and E200 slide film. One of the photos is on the recent images page.
On November 16th I observed the asteroid named for Saint Mary's University: 6898 Saint-Mary's. This image is also on the recent images page.
On November 27th I observed the first comet at ARO - in fact two comets: Encke and C/2002 T7 (Linear). Both were enjoyed visually by amateur astronomers. These images are on the recent images page.
September 4, 2003: Craig Levine joined me again - we took the first colour CCD images at ARO - of M27 and M51.
August 28, 2003: Craig Levine joined me on this night. We tested the automatic sync function that I recently added to my scripting software (it worked!). We imaged a couple of objects (see recent images above) and automatically imaged the first new supernova search list of 40+ galaxies in a new set of search lists perpared by Paul Gray.
August 27, 2003: Ordered an Optec TCF-S digital focusser - this is making it much easier to focus the CCD camera.
August 23, 2003: The official opening was a great success with about 35 of our friends and family attending. We even managed to arrange a clear sky! The picture below was taken shortly after the new observatory sign was unveiled (Dave's 40th birthday present from Michelle).
August 21, 2003: Added the ARO DomeCam (see above).
August 18, 2003: Tonight I tried using an Optec WideField 0.5x compressor lens, borrowed from Saint Mary's University, in front of the CCD camera. This made the field twice as large (and 4 times the area). The images looked very good - I have to get one of those!
August 16, 2003: Over the past couple of weeks I've been working on a scripting program (still very much a work-in-progress) to automate the aquisition and imaging of target objects. In the past two nights I've been able to type one command to start the automatic imaging of a list of objects - and eureka, it worked! This has allowed Paul Gray and I to restart our supernova search program, which died in 1995 shortly after our first discovery. Paul is now scouring over lists of galaxies selecting those that meet our program requirements. More on that later. More "pretty picture" images have been added below from the last couple of sessions. I have also started the design and ordered parts to start the project automating the dome shutter and rotation.