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Morgan-Monroe Observatory

 MMS

 

This site was developed in the mid-1960's as it became clear that urban lights were degrading the original Goethe Link Observatory site.  The surrounding 25,000 acres of the Morgan-Monroe State Forest provide considerable protection from local lighting.  In 1964 a 16-inch (0.41-cm) Cassegrain telescope was installed.  This f/13.7 instrument was used extensively for photoelectric photometry during the 1960-80's.

In 1989 this telescope was converted to an automated, unattended system for monitoring long-term brightness changes in cataclymic variable stars.  This telescope, now known as Roboscope, was in continuous operation under autonomous computer control from 1990-2012.  Among the operations that occurred without astronomer supervision or oversight were 1) open-up and close-down decisions, 2) real-time observation scheduling, 3) obtaining and applying detector calibrations, 4) liquid nitrogen fills of the CCD dewar, 5) identifying the star field and performing stellar photometry, and 6) updating the light curve.

In 1997 a companion 1.25-meter telescope was installed, also for long-term monitoring projects.  This f/8 Ritchey-Chretien reflector, known as Spectrabot is equipped for CCD imaging and for fiber-fed echelle spectroscopy.  It was operated as an unattended autonomous system, sharing some of the hardware and software of observatory operations with RoboScope.