AAS 195th Meeting, January 2000
Session 101. Astronomy Education
Oral, Friday, January 14, 2000, 2:00-3:30pm, Regency V

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[101.03] Automating a 0.9 m Telescope for Astronomy Education

E. A. Albin, D. A. Dundee (Fernbank Science Center)

During the latter part of the summer of 1999, the Fernbank Science Center's (Atlanta, GA) 0.9 m telescope received a major electronic and software upgrade. Meridian Controls Corporation (formally Merlin Controls Corporation) of Berthoud, CO automated the telescope and dome.

In addition to replacing the entire telescope's electronic control and power supply packages -- new motors, encoders, and wiring were installed on the telescope's declination and right ascension axes, the dome, and shutter opening. All hardware is controlled by a combination of Meridian Control Corp. software and a graphical interface software suite from Software Bisque (Golden, CO) called ``The Sky."

As a result of this upgrade, we now have the ability to slew the telescope to any object in the Hubble Guide Star Catalogue visible from our latitude. The instrument can accurately place an astronomical object within the field of view of an eyepiece or CCD image frame. Our pointing accuracy is within 30 arc-seconds. We are currently testing the new automation system and integrating it with our ST-6 CCD imaging camera acquired from Santa Barbara Instruments.

Future plans include participation in the Telescopes in Education (``TIE") project coordinated by JPL and Mount Wilson Observatory. One goal is to have students and teachers across the state, country, and globe remotely access the telescope and imaging system. Participants will be able to acquire astronomical images in real time. In addition, coordinated efforts to have students involved in mini research projects such as asteroid discovery and the search for supernovae in other galaxies should be possible.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.fernbank.edu. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: ed.albin@fernbank.edu

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