Muhlenberg College Robotic Telescope Observatory

Muhlenberg College has partnered with Mr. John Shobbrook of Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Australia to establish a robotic observatory. The observatory was made possible by NASA grant. The observatory is on John's property, which is adjacent to the Warrumbungle National Park and Siding Spring Observatory), home to the 154 inch Anglo-Australian Telescope.

The Muhlenberg College Robotic Observatory houses a C-14 on a Software Bisque Paramount ME mount, with an Apogee Instruments large format CCD camera (model AP6E), and Optec, Inc. IFW filter wheel and temperature compensating focuser. The standard configuration yields images that are 21.9 arc minutes on a side.

The observatory is online now, and will be used by Muhlenberg College students and by students at our local K-12 partnership schools. A feature that makes the observatory ideal for the classroom is due to the time-zone difference between the school and observatory. When it is 9:00 AM in Allentown, it is 11:00 PM in Coonabarabran.

The observatory will be incorporated into routine classroom use for the first time in fall 2004. Because of the ease-of-use of ACP, the relatively fast transfer of images (less than 30 seconds for a typical FITS file with our satellite feed), and the exceptionally dark skies at Coonabarabran, we expect the observatory to get heavy usage.