At McDonald Observatory in western Texas, there is a very unique telescope. This telescope had it's original first light back in October of 2009, but on April 20th, 2011, the Wren-Marcario Acecssible Telescope (WMAT) have its first ADA accessible first light.
At the end of February one of the cameras on Faulkes Telescope North broke down. This was the main work-horse camera for this telescope and came as a blow to many scientists, and UK and Hawaii schools, who could not continue their programmes on FTN. We have been trying very hard to fix this camera but so far it is still causing problems. Fortunately FTN has a second camera which we were able to make available to education users at the end of March. I am pleased to say that it is working well and producing picturesque images.
Astronomical society websites often have static images of the night sky that they need to update every month. This can be time consuming and is never very satisfying because the view is usually only valid for one location at one time. To provide a solution we recently launched Virtual Sky - a web-browser-based interactive planetarium that can be embedded in other websites without the need for special browser plugins. Virtual Sky can be customised to change the location, time, add gridlines, show planets, show constellations, make a printer friendly version, and much more.
Science Night at Viejo Valley Elementary School in Santa Barbara was held on April 7. This was the first year that LCOGT was invited, after one of the organizing teachers came by our booth at Science Day at the Santa Barbara Zoo last year and was impressed with the activities we had. Especially, of course, the infrared camera.
This past week Stuart and I joined a host of technology savvy astronomers in New College, Oxford University (although being 'new' is relative because it was founded in 1379) for .astronomy 3. It is a grand conference venue and it is unsurprising to learn it was used as a set in the Harry Potter films.
Last year the Clue Crew from Jeopardy! Visited Haleakalā to film clues for the show. They filmed at the University of Hawai`i sites, including the Laser Ranging Station, PanSTARRS, and of course they filmed at the Faulkes Telescope North. On March 25th the show aired. The show devoted a category to Haleakalā.