AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 95 Technology in Astronomy Education
Poster, Wednesday, January 12, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[95.04] Calvin-Rehoboth Robotic Twin Telescopes

D.B. Haarsma, L.A. Molnar, D.A. VanBaak (Calvin College)

The astronomy program at Calvin College, like many small colleges, is limited by poor weather and light pollution at its midwestern campus and by limited free time on the part of its astronomy faculty. Nonetheless we believe direct access to the physical universe is key to the science education both of science majors and nonmajors. Recent advances in hardware and software for modest robotic telescopes have made it possible for colleges like ours to incorporate the use of a remote bservatory into our curriculum within typical financial and time constraints.

In this poster we make our first report on the installation of two robotic telescopes (one on campus and one at a remote site in New Mexico) using largely off-the-shelf components. Students learn first with the local telescope in order to understand the equipment and procedures, but obtain the majority of their data with the remote telescope. Equipment development is done first with the local telescope, and then implemented on the remote telescope (where time spent in development is difficult).

We received an NSF CCLI grant and matching college funds in the summer of 2002. The local telescope was installed in the spring of 2003, and the New Mexico telescope was ready for remote operation in January 2004. Our poster will describe our equipment choices, including a few components (such as an equipment rack for the back end of the telescope) which we designed ourselves. It will also detail classroom use of the equipment in its first two semesters by students at a range of levels.

A copy of the poster and many additional details of the project are available on the Calvin observatory website, http://www.calvin.edu/observatory/.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.calvin.edu/observatory/. 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.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 5
© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.