Access the same databases that the telescope uses to do its work using the links below:

Observer News

October 17, 2018

A new observation #request parameter "interval=" has been added. This optional feature sets the minimum number of days between observations of the same object taken by the same observer using the same exposure parameters (filter and exposure, or special parameter values). Valid integers from 1 to 30 days can be specified. If set to 0 or not specified, this feature is disabled. This is intended to spread out observations that don't need to be taken every clear night, for example, slowly vary variable stars or distant minor planets.

Improvements have also been made to the "epoch=" and "special=" parameters. The epoch reference can now be set in either geocentric or heliocentric Julian Date. Also, the length of a time series observation started by an epoch= parameter is now adjusted by how early or late an observation actually starts vs. when it ideally should have started.

I have also implemented an observer account login password mechanism. This will come into play with upcoming plans for a BGO app (android and windows, maybe IOS) and website login. Initially you can communicate with the telescope this way and eventually manage your observations. This is a priority as the social media interfaces are always at risk of their whims.

The Android app is working now for live voice control of both scopes, which is pretty cool! Operators can do things like "go to ring nebula now" to move the scope during in-person events, startup and shutdown the observatory, check weather and status, etc.

August 20, 2018

The BGO's interface to Facebook is off-line. Recent security changes imposed by Facebook mean that the Facebook App that the robot uses to communicate with Facebook users has become disabled. 

This is due to Facebook responding to security and privacy concerns that have been in the news over the past year. Part of their response is requiring all Facebook Apps to be reviewed and re-approved and this process for our app is stalled (what they approved previously, they are not approving now). There is nothing that we have done to cause this - we are caught up with hundreds of thousands of other App developers in the same frustrating process.

It is not known if/when Facebook access will be restored.

In the meantime, Facebook observers can switch their observer account to Twitter by making a new authorization from Twitter including your name and the switch request (also send a message on Facebook Messenger so we know that it is you requesting the switch).

June 26, 2018

Duplicate observations (same object, filter, exposure) by same observer are no longer checked.

BGO observer, Hal Heaton has been slowly building a gallery of BGO images on the Sky and Telescope website - Bravo!

May 31, 2018

The BGO Robot will not operate on the night's of June 4-17 due to the #human's vacation!

May 23, 2018

Two more observing constraints are available to the #request (and #edit) command: maxalt= and som=. 'maxalt' is maximum altitude which along with minalt, constrains the range of altitude an object is observed at. 'som' is the side of meridian that an object is observed at. This can stop some observations from being right side up and others upside down, as the telescope/camera flips on the east side of the sky.

April 24, 2018

A second new camera has been been added to the telescope. It is an SBIG STXL-11002 - it has a field of view a bit smaller than the main Apogee CG16M camera but the pixel size is the same. As a result, there have been some filter changes and additions. The narrow band filters (H-alpha and Oxygen III) have been moved to the new camera and the Sulphur II filter added. Also new are the Sloan g' and i' science filters. The new camera also has LRGB filters and a new clear (CLR) filter. Use of the two cameras is entirely automatic - just choose the desired filter by name and the correct camera is used. See the Technical Information page for the specs of both cameras and the complete list of filters.

Imaging of the Moon and planets have been moved to the new camera as it can take much shorter exposures than the main camera (0.001 seconds vs. 0.1 seconds). This makes the images more consistently sharp than previously.  

April 23, 2018

There have been many incremental improvements (and bug/reliability fixes) to the operating software over the last few months. The most obvious are:

  • The System Logs now include the queue processing logs. This allows observers to see which requests are observable and how the telescope decides, from those which are observable, which are run.
  • The Requested Observations page now includes a column that indicates if an observation has been Imaged or if an Error occurs during imaging. These are updated in real-time at night as the telescope operates.

January 30, 2018

Read about the BGO highlights of 2017.

August 31, 2017

The maximum exposure times for special exposures is now 1,800 seconds (30 minutes).

July 5, 2017

The #process command now supports the really-cool arcsinh stretch algorithm used by the observatory's programs when creating jpeg images.

June 13, 2017

The comprehensive system logs that the #human uses to monitor and manage the observatory have been made available to all observers.

June 9, 2017

The robotic telescope will not operate from June 12-22 as the human caretaker is out of town at a Robotic Telescope Conference in San Diego!

April 27, 2017

Some new management features have been completed:

  • Observer accounts can expire after a specified date and be renewed with a #renew command.
  • Observers are placed in an observer group and they are granted the priority and special permissions associated with that group. Groups also can have an expiry date in which case the associated accounts expire on that date (even if the observer's expiry date is later).

March 31, 2017

The robotic telescope will not run between April 5 and April 14 due to the #human caretaker's vacation. 

March 18, 2017

The #delete command can now be used to delete Completed Processing Requests and their associated images. Consider deleting intermediate steps or those that did not turn out the way you hoped.

March 16, 2017

A new FAQ has been added: What are all these filters and which ones should I use?

March 8, 2017

A major new feature is released today: social media-based image processing. See the documentation for how to use it and watch this video tutorial.

February 17, 2017

Due to the university winter break and associated vacation of the observatory's #human, the robotic telescope will be not running from February 19 to 26 inclusive.

January 9, 2017

Read about the BGO highlights of 2016.

January 4, 2017

The new Facebook interface goes into beta test mode today! Current observers who which to switch to the Facebook interface should request authorization using Facebook and include in the message your old Twitter handle or email address. Note that observatory policy does not allow observers to have accounts using multiple interfaces.

December 13, 2016

A new Privacy Policy has been put in place.

December 3, 2016

Five new robotic telescope features go live today!

First, images for non-special observations are now sent immediately after they are taken! The completed observation queue is still updated in the morning with the raw full-resolution FITS images and Jpeg images.

There are also three new commands (#domecam, #satellite, and #send) and an improvement to the #weather command.

October 17, 2016

Two new features go live today - the 'focus' and 'offset' parameters of the #request command.

The 'focus' parameter is intended to be used defocus the telescope when performing photometry of bright stars to reduce overexposure OR to increase photometric precision by blurring stars over more pixels - this can reduce errors caused by how light falls and is recorded by each pixel.

The 'offset' parameter offsets the telescope's position from its catalog position which could be used, for example, to:

  • build larger images using a mosaic of separate fields,
  • offset a comet's nucleus to a corner of the field so more of the tail can be recorded,
  • and place a variable star off-centre so that reference/check stars are in the field of view.
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