Equipment and Instrumentation

The main telescope at the Union College Observatory is a 20" (0.5m) Ritchey-Cretien Reflector from OGS (Optical Guidance Systems). It is housed in a 14' Ash Dome on the roof of the Olin Science Center. We have three CCD cameras: an SBIG STXL 11002 (4008x2672 9u pixels), an Apogee AP7 (511x512 24 u pixels, back-illuminated) and an AP8 (1024x1024 24u pixels). The field of view in the AP7 is about 10' with 1.2" pixels. The FOV in the STXL is 6 times as large (the axes being 2 and 3 times that dimension, as the chip is rectangular). We also have an optomechanics 10c spectrograph, normally combined with the AP7 camera. For planetary work, we have two video cameras with CMOS detectors: an Orion StarShoot Planetary Imager & Autoguider, and an Imaging Source B&W camera.


The observatory is controlled by TheSky X Pro including Bisque TCS. (Our old, Comsoft control equiptment was working when we recently retired it, and may be available to another interested college). The CCDs are operated with MaximDL, with pointing directly from The SkyX. A new RoboFocus motor controls focusing by moving the secondary mirror, and can be controlled using the RoboFocus software or directly by the Sky X. A 2" focuser is used for visual observing and mounting Nikon DSLRs. Once images are obtained, they are processed using IRAF (Image reduction and Analysis Facility, of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories).

Union College also operates a rooftop Very Small Radio Telescope ("VSRT", a single dish) and a VSRTI table-top radio interferometer. These telescopes are regularly used by students of the AST 240 Radio Astronomy course.