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Session 21 - Amateurs & Professionals: Collaborators in the New Age of Electronic Astronomy - I.
Oral session, Tuesday, June 10
North Main Hall C/D,

[21.09] Recycling Hardware for New Programs

T. Puckett (Puckett Obs.)

The Puckett Observatory, a privately owned facility, is located about 90 miles north of Atlanta, Georgia. The observatory equipment includes a 50 cm Baker-Nunn Schmidt camera, a 60 cm Ritchey-Chretien telescope and a 30 cm Meade LX 200 Schmidt-Cassegrain. The Baker-Nunn camera was used previously by the Air Force and the Smithsonian Observatory for satellite detection. The camera was decommissioned by the government and was sold as surplus. The unit is in perfect working order and has been refurbished with new control systems for an automated comet search program.

The camera features a 5 x 30 degree field of view and uses 5.7 cm roll film. The drive system has been retrofitted for automation as well as the film advance and shutter control. The camera has large film magazines for film advance and take-up. It is capable of photographing 150 square degrees of the sky at 408 arc seconds per millimeter. The photographic magnitude obtainable in four minutes on hyped film is magnitude 18.5. The camera has a 31 inch primary and a 20 inch three-element apochromatic coated corrector.

I completed construction of the 60 cm Ritchey- Chretien telescope in late 1995. The telescope has a focal length of 487 cm and a fully computerized drive system. The telescope tracks asteroids and comets as well as earth-orbiting satellites by entering orbital elements into the telescopes' drive system program. It also allows automated drift scans for extended-object spectroscopy. Fully automated observing runs are possible, allowing remote operation from any site with access to a modem.

The focus of the Puckett Observatory lends itself well to professional and amateur collaboration. The equipment is well-suited for monitoring comets for outbursts and breakups, searching for NEOs, and supernova and comet discovery.

Program listing for Tuesday