AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 10. HAD IV: Women, Alignments, Biography
Historical, Display, Monday, May 31, 1999, 9:20am-6:30pm, Southwest Exhibit Hall

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[10.06] The Sproul 24-Inch Refractor: Entering A New Century of Research

H.J. Augensen (Widener University), W.D. Heintz (Swarthmore College), M.R. Schultz, G.E. Hassel, Jr., S. Inoue (Widener University), R. Howanski, T. Fanning (Ridley High School)

The Sproul Observatory, located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, has been in operation since 1912. Its major research instrument is a 24-inch, f/18 refracting telescope with lenses made by Brashear. The research conducted during the 20th century concentrated on obtaining parallaxes of nearby stars and also on the exploration of visual double and multiple star systems. The Sproul plate vault contains some 90,000 plates, from which 1500 stellar parallaxes, or about 10% of the current parallax database, have been extracted. Heintz made 54,000 observations (including those made with other telescopes) of double stars over 43 years (47,500 by micrometer, 6500 by photography), resulting in the calculation of 500 orbits and 900 newly discovered double stars. Photographic observations ceased in 1994. In 1998 the refractor was fitted with an Apogee AP-6 CCD camera, which contains a Kodak KAF 1000 chip with 1024 x 1024 pixel array, and gives a 0.45 arcseconds per pixel image scale and 8 x 8 arcminute field of view at the focal plane. The camera is operated using PMIS software. A filter wheel constructed by ISI Systems and attached to the camera contains 5-mm thick B, V, and R filters. The Sproul telescope has now been given a new task: the study of variable stars. Currently under investigation are RV Tauri and semiregular variables, SX Phoenicis stars, and also stars which are suspected of being variable, taken from the New Catalogue of Stars Suspected of Variability of Light, Nauka Publishing, Moscow 1982. Thus far, the most convincing cases for variability are NSV 656 (irregular?), 1098 (large amplitude, probably Mira type), 1470 (short P, eclipsing?), and 13514 (P~105d?). This work has been supported by a Provost Grant from Swarthmore College and by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute-Supported Summer Research in Science Program.

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