AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 10. Telescopes and Observatories for Education and Outreach
Poster, Monday, January 6, 2003, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall AB

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[10.04] A New Mission for the 0.8-meter Telescope at Rattlesnake Mountain Observatory

K.R. Swanson, N.C Anheier, R.E. Gephart, A.C. Rither (PNNL), R.E. Leber (Heritage College)

An effort is underway to refurbish and modernize the 0.8-meter Cassegrain reflecting telescope at Rattlesnake Mountain Observatory (RMO) near the Tri-Cities metropolitan area (Richland, Pasco, Kennewick) in southeastern Washington State. Designed and built in 1971, the telescope ranks as one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest. It was used regularly for astronomical research through the early 1980s, but soon after fell into disuse.

Since 1996, a non-profit group made up largely of scientists, engineers, and education professionals from the nearby Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have been engaged in a project to enable remote access to the telescope and provide for its automated operation. To date, the telescope has seen the overhaul and replacement of several of its major subsystems. Some of the improvements include a fully programmable dual-axis servo-motor drive system, computer controlled dome operation, radio-modem link to PNNL, and comprehensive control software. The telescope and several of its auxiliary systems are currently under local computer control, whereby an observer, residing within the dome, may operate the telescope and dome completely through the computer interface.

This primarily volunteer project seeks to allow the eventual incorporation of the telescope into science classrooms within the local community, across Washington State, and beyond. In the broader sense, the RMO 0.8-meter telescope will become an integral part of a much larger initiative, the goals of which are to expand the opportunities for science education in our schools and to promote a greater appreciation for scientific research among the general population.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://rmo.emsl.pnl.gov:2080/. 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: ken.swanson@pnl.gov

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