AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 70. Astronomy and Education
Display, Wednesday, June 2, 1999, 10:00am-6:30pm, Southwest Exhibit Hall

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[70.09] A Passive Sky Variability Monitor for Under $1500.

G. A. Zimmer, W. E. Pereira, R. J. Nemiroff, J. B. Rafert (Michigan Tech)

Commonly available camera equipment costing under $1500 can be used to monitor the night sky for transient events. We have deployed an off-the-shelf camera consisting of a Nikon N8008s body, a MF-21 intervalometer data back, 3200 ASA speed film, and a 8mm fisheye lens. The camera takes consecutive 15-minute exposures of the entire visible sky for eight hours at a time without human intervention, recording time information automatically on the film. Stars as faint as 8th magnitude are visible. The resulting exposures create a continuous sky record of sufficient quality to identify bright or unusual transients. It is possible that such a low-cost, easily-available set-up may allow interested students or amateurs to capture such important transient events such as meteors, cometary flares, bright stellar flares, bright novae, bright supernovae, or even very bright optical counterparts to gamma-ray bursts.

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