Instrumentation

Facilities

  • Two outdoor observation terraces where telescopes are used for undergraduate astronomy teaching and public outreach events. These include an array of portable 8-inch go-to telescopes and a permanent 14-inch go-to telescope which resides inside "The Cube" (a small but robust structure on wheels). All these telescopes are equipped with white-light or H-alpha solar filters.
  • A 2,000 square foot multipurpose Interpretative Center. It is a state-of-the-art multifunctional building that serves as an open space, a lecture theater, or  large classroom. It is air conditioned and can comfortably accommodate 100 people. It is equipped with educational displays showcasing Indigenous Astronomy, four general purpose public computers with touch-screen monitors, a 12-foot screen and HDMI data projector for presentations, and wireless internet. 
  • A microwave link to the internet provided by the Government of Alberta's Supernet program.
  • A wide array of research capable telescopes and detectors as described below:

cmt

Clark-Milone Telescope (CMT)

SPECS:

  • Manufactured by Astronomical Equipment Limited, Luton England, 1971.
  • Primary mirror: 40.5 cm f/5 parabolic optics.  
  • Mounting: German Equatorial.  
  • Current configuration: Newtonian
  • CCD camera: SBIG STX6303.  
  • Filters: Johnson-Cousin, SDSS, and Open.
  • Plate scale; 0.914 arcsec/pixel.  
  • FoV;  46.8 x 31.2 arcmin.

Of note: 

  1. The CMT and camera are remotely controllable and have been operated by astronomers as far away as Leiden University, Netherlands and Beijing Normal University, China.
  2. Mounted to the CMT is a 7.6 cm f/5 refractor that feeds light via fiber optic cable to the RAO echelle spectrograph (R = 10,000).  The spectrograph system which includes an ATIK 460EX Monochrome CCD camera, is also remotely controllable.  The echelle spectrograph is a product of Shelyak Instruments.

Planned upgrades:  

  1. The CMT is slated to have its primary and secondary mirrors recoated and optical alignment fixed.  This work is scheduled for Fall2020.
  2. A new digital camera should be installed in the next year or two.  

 

 


A.R Cross Telescope (ARCT)

SPECS:

  • Designed and built by UCalgary/PHAS 1982 – 1986 
  • Primary mirror: 183 cm,  f/2.7  parabolic optics.  
  • Secondary mirror: 36.6 cm, 5Hz Chopping capable with 180 degree selectable chopping plane.
  • Effective focal ratio: f/15.
  • Mounting: Alt-Alt.  
  • Configuration: 5-port Cassegrain Bonnette with eyepiece for public viewing.
  • FoV;  12 arcmin (typical eyepiece).

Of note: 

  1. The ARCT has employed an LN2 cooled Photometrics CCD camera, an InSb photometer with JHKL’M’ filters, and an SBIG spectrograph, over its history.
  2. Primary mirror built at the University of Arizona in the Roger Angel lab.
  3. One of the largest telescopes in Canada equipped with an eyepiece for public viewing.

Planned upgrades:  

  1. The ARCT dome is being upgraded to full computer control (rotation and shutters).  When this work is completed in Fall 2020 the ARCT will become fully remotely controllable via the internet.
ARCT
ARCT

BN

Baker-Nunn Telescope

SPECS: 

  • Primary mirror: 76.2 cm,  f/1  parabolic optics.  
  • Configuration: Prime focus Schmidt.
  • Corrector Plate: 50.8 cm diameter 3-element unit with x – y adjustments. 
  • CCD camera: FLI Microline with 16803 chip
  • Mounting: Fork-mount Equatorial.  
  • Plate scale: 3.92 arcsec / pixel
  • FoV;  4.44 x 4.44 square degrees.

Of note: 

  1. 17 Baker-Nunn satellite tracking ‘cameras’ were designed and built by Boller&Chivens between 1958 and the mid 1970’s. 12 were commissioned by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and 5 by the US Airforce.  BN#15 was originally located at CFB Cold Lake Alberta using 55mm wide film to photograph the sky.  Today this incredibly fast digital telescope is a key part of the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory’s suite of research telescopes and is referred to as the RAO-BN.
  2. The RAO-BN has been a part of the Skynet Robotic Telescope Network since 2019.  Skynet is based at the University of North Carolina.
  3. The RAO-BN and camera are remotely controllable and have been operated by astronomers as far away as Kona Hawaii and Barcelona Spain.

Recent upgrades:  

  1. The RA rack-and-pinion gear box has just been disassembled, cleaned, reassembled and greased.  Tracking and slewing tests have been made with nominal results.  The RAO-BN is back online.

 


Rothney Radio Telescope (RRT)

SPECS:

  • Primary dish: 3.3 meters f/0.5 parabolic optics.  
  • Mounting: motorized meridian altitude adjustment.  
  • Receiver and Electronics: 1420 +/- 2 MHz spectrometer.  
  • Cascade of 2 feed-mounted low-noise amplifiers each with noise temp of 27K (total gain of 35 dB). 
  • Dual conversion super heterodyne receiver with 140 MHz 1st IF and 4 MHz 2nd IF.

Of note: 

  1. The RAO RRT is perfectly configured for observing the dynamics of the hydrogen gas clouds in the spiral arms of our Milky Way galaxy.  By scanning the plane of the Milky Way at different altitudes (and thus different galactic longitudes) the gravitational effects of Dark Matter are revealed in the measurable galactic rotation curve.

Planned upgrades:  

  1. The RRT data acquisition computer is being upgraded so the system is currently off line.  This work is scheduled for completion Fall2021.
RRT

C14

Celestron C14 Telescope

SPECS:

  • Designed and built by Celestron Telescopes
  • 14 inch schmit-cassegrain optical tube
  • Mounting: North equatorial 
  • Resolution: 0.39 arc seconds

Of note: 

  1. The C14 utilizes a solar filter allowing daytime safe viewing of the sun. 
  2. Attached tandem to the 14 inch primary tube, is a Cornado 40mm H-alpha telescope, allowing observing of solar H-alpha emission, such as, solar flares and prominences