Presentation on theme: "Building the Sonoma State University Robotic Telescope"— Presentation transcript:
1 Building the Sonoma State University Robotic Telescope Gordon G. SpearDepartment of Physics and AstronomySonoma State University
2 I am here to represent...Those people who want to build a robotic telescopeThose people who have a telescope and want to make it roboticThose people who we want to participate in a scalable and sustainable automated telescope network
3 What is a robotic telescope? A robotic telescope consists of a computer controlled telescope and CCD camera with an integrated control system.A robotic telescope must be scriptable so that a sequence of observations can be automated.
4 Scriptable telescope mount Point to arbitrary RA and DEC to within a few arcminutes.Track to within a few arcseconds for up to several minutes.Avoid wrapping cables around mount.Successfully move through “trouble spots” on the sky.meridian, zenith, poleKnow the horizon limits for the mount.Always capable of moving to a safe home position.
5 Scriptable CCD camera Control camera settings including exposure timeincluding camera temperatureControl position of filter wheelSave images for later recoveryTake dark framesTake flat field frames
6 Further capabilities required for a robotic telescope system Power on/offOpen/close roof and/or adjust domeVerify focusSynchronize telescope with skyVerify field and/or adjust telescope pointingGenerate log of all saved images
15 What should the ideal robotic telescope model provide? Control for telescopes, CCD cameras, and other instrumentation that is scriptable. ASCOM is an excellent example.A universal web interface that is easy to use and to understand. RTML is an excellent example.A central engine for accepting requests, establishing priorities, scheduling observations, archiving data, and advising users of completed observations.
16 ? CAMERA data observing list camera commands observing log Central Controllertelescope commandsDATAtohappy observerdata archiveTELESCOPE
17 What are the available options for building a robotic telescope? Hire a commercial engineering firm.Purchase an off-the-shelf system.Upgrade an existing system using interoperable components.Build a new system independently from scratch.
18 Some possible commercial sources for robotic telescopes Optical Guidance Systems (OGS)Software BisqueMeade (?)Celestron (??)
19 Possible resources for building robotic telescopes Software BisqueComsoft (PC-TCS)DC-3 Dreams (Astronomer’s Control Program)ASCOMATISJeff Medkiff’s robotic astronomy siteRTMLThe Robotic Telescope Resource Site at SSUOthis conference
20 The SSU Observatory and its Telescopes So, where is the SSU observatory anyway?
30 In the command seat for the Epoch telescope... This is currently where the “robot” that makes everything happen must sit.
31 Science at SSUO Active Galactic Nuclei (AGNs) Eclipsing Binaries (EBs) Galactic Anti-Center Variable Star Survey (GACVSS)Photometric Detection/Confirmation of Extrasolar Planets
32 The Epoch Telescope at SSU 10-inch f/5 NewtonianFork mount with DC servo motorsFriction roller driveUp to 60 watts per axisSlew speed about 6° per secondPoints to within 1-3 minutes of arcTracks unguided for up to 5 minutes
33 The Epoch Telescope Software ServostarRuns under DOSConvenient user interface screenInternal database plus planetsEnter RA and DECResync, Slew, Guide, etc.Drivers available for UNIXSource code currently unavailable!
34 The future of Epoch… (Information provided by Kevin Medlock.) Servostar is about to be rewritten for Windows.The code will be made available as open source.The designs for the servo motor controller boards will be made freely available.Upgraded versions of the controller boards for up to 200 watts per axis will also be available.Controller boards will be available for purchase at modest cost.The future looks bright!
35 All we need now is the money and we will build one of those cool robotic telescope systems!
36 More InformationAn online version of this presentation plus more detailed information is available from the Robotic Telescope Resource Resource Site.This website contains URLs and direct links to all the resources mentioned in this presentation. This website will be maintained to reflect current developments for robotic telescope systems.