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Presentations

The Calvin-Rehoboth Observatory project was described in a poster presented January 12, 2005, at the 205th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in San Diego, California. The title and abstract of the presentation are as follows.


Calvin-Rehoboth Robotic Twin Telescopes

Deborah Haarsma, Larry Molnar, and David Van Baak (Calvin College)

ABSTRACT: 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 two full time astronomers. 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 observatory 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.


The complete poster (in the form of a one page PowerPoint file, 5.9 MB) can be downloaded here.

The same information reformatted into a 24 page PowerPoint file (3.8 MB, and printable on regular size paper) can be downloaded here.