AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 66 Undergraduate Astronomy
Poster, Tuesday, 9:20am-6:30pm, January 10, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[66.09] Tricerascope: The Triple Threat Robotic Telescope of the Community College of Southern Nevada

H. L. Nations, T. D. Erwin (Community College of Southern Nevada)

With over 34000 students and three primary campuses, the Community College of Southern Nevada is the largest college or university in the state. It is also the largest provider of astronomy education, with a total of forty sections of introductory astronomy classes and labs in the Fall of 2005, six full time astronomy faculty, and a busy planetarium which has just been upgraded to a digital projector. Unfortunately, it is also located in the light pollution capital of the observable universe, Las Vegas, Nevada. But to counterbalance that somewhat, we do have over 300 clear, sunny days per year. This has led us to develop Tricerascope, our triple threat robotic telescope. Given the busy teaching schedules of our faculty, Tricerascope was designed to use, as much as possible, commercial, off-the-shelf technology. The primary hardware consists of a Coronado Solarmax 60 Halpha telescope with a bandpass of < 0.7 Angstroms, and a TeleVue-60 APO refractor equipped with a white-light Baader AstroSolar filter. The detectors for these telescopes are identical Phillips ToUcam Pro II webcams and the telescopes are focused using dual Technical Innovations Robo-Focus devices. The telescopes themselves are piggy-backed on an eight inch Meade LX200GPS which has an SBIG ST7 XME camera and CFW filter wheel. All of these reside in a Technical Innovations RoboDome . The overall software controlling the observatory is Astronomy Control Panel 4.1. We show details of the hardware (including an unique shutter for the LX200) and software and how they work together as well as daytime and nighttime images. We will also discuss how the observatory is being integrated into the astronomy curriculum at the college and in local secondary schools.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: nations ha@yahoo.com

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