World Space Week celebration in Ethiopia


Extrasolar planet transit seen across multiple sites

MESA Club at Dos Pueblos learns Agent Exoplanet

On Thursday November 15 I visited the MESA Club at  Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, CA. This visit was arranged through a fantastic program called Santa Barbara Partners in Education that, among other activities, links schools with professionals in the community who want to donate their time. The acronym MESA stands for math, science, and engineering acheivement, and the club at Dos Pueblos has about 20 members. The students are all interested in science, and they wanted a hands-on demonstration about astronomy. I decided to have them use LCOGT's citizen science project, Agent Exoplanet. As an introduction we had a brief discussion about exoplanets, why they are scientifically important to find, the type of data that is required, and how it is analyzed. Then, the students dug in! We only had 45 minutes, but I was very impressed by how quickly these MESA Club students caught on to the technique of relative photometry.

Sky & Telescope's in-depth article about LCOGT - the Link

Sky & Telescope published The Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope in the October, 2012 edition. Researched and written by Santa Barbara author Cameron Walker, the article offers a snapshot of LCOGT as we deployed the first 1-meter telescopes in Chile, acquired first light on the FLOYDS spectrograph, and completed three 1-meter enclosures in South Africa.

Two 1-meter domes completed at Siding Spring

Rounding out Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope's 1-meter southern ring development, the final two enclosures were completed last week at Siding Spring Observatory. Telescope Operations Manager Mark Willis led the effort, first building two 19-ft Ash domes on site, then erecting the prefabricated wall set from LCOGT's headquarters in Goleta, California. Finally, the two domes were mated with the two wall sets.

Updates to Virtual Sky

It has been a while since I mentioned Virtual Sky. Development hasn't stopped. In fact, since my last post about it in April last year, it has gone from version 0.3.4 to 0.3.17. Over that time I've added new features and tweaked the code to speed it up. Amongst more recent features are:

Crab Nebula and other things that go bang in the night

Over the past summer I had the opportunity to undertake a summer placement at Cardiff University School of Physics and Astronomy through the Nuffield Science Bursary scheme, under the supervision of Dr Edward Gomez. The main aim of this project was to explore the final evolutionary phases of a star's life. We looked at both large mass and small mass stars and their end stages, comprising of supernovae and planetary nebulae.

Las Cumbres Observatory gains first light for entire 1-meter node at CTIO

After nearly eight years of design, fabrication and development, Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT) installed three 1-meter telescopes at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) and achieved first light on all three in a span of less than 30 hours last week.

Las Cumbres Observatory achieves first light with NRES spectrograph

Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope(LCOGT), a private, nonprofit scientific institution conducting time domain astrophysics and education, and a provider of global telescope resources, achieved first light with their prototype Network of Robotic Echelle Spectrograph (NRES) this week. The event took place earlier in the week at LCOGT’s Byrne Observatory located at the UC Santa Barbara Sedgwick Reserve.

LCOGT telescopes on sky from Chile

Two of three 1-meter LCOGT telescopes are being commissioned at our first Southern site at CTIO in Chile by Annie Hjelstrom, Vincent Posner, Kurt Vander Horst & Mark Crellin, assisted by local staff.  The LCOGT team will have the third telescope in DOME-A on-sky very soon (see the update below).

Both images taken on 10-Oct-2012 (UT) from our 1-m telescopes in DOME-C and DOME-B respectively.

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