ONSITE OBSERVATORIES

We currently have expanded our hobby to include six observatories in the backyard that house a variety of scopes, each for its individualized special research. Several use CCD cameras for time-resolved variable star photometry, one for supernova patrol, one for H-alpha solar observing, and one for visual lunar and planetary observing. Three observatories are shown below:

20" Observatory

Newest addition at WPO!

16" Observatory

Our 10' x 12' roll-off roof observatory houses a 16" F/4.2 Newtonian Reflector Telescope.

36" Observatory

A 10' x 18' carport kit, that's been converted and rolls away on rails, will become the observatory that houses a 36" F/5 reflector being completed by ISS Enterprises, in Mayhill, NM.

TELESCOPES

3", 6", 8", 10", 12", 16" and 36" TELESCOPES. For varied projects, we have seven different scopes in our observatories along with a multi-deck observing platform to accommodate visitors.

12" & 14" LX-200's

Jeannie next to a 14" LX-200 on the observing deck, and a 12" LX-200 is in the Skypod behind.

Bird's Eye View

Roof-top view of Whispering Pine Observatories, June '09, with observatory domes in the foreground and the older roll-off roof observatories in the distance, still in use.

CCD & Photometry

ST-9 CCD and flip mirror system attached to our 12" LX-200 in the Skypod. These scopes are used primarily for ccd photometry of variable stars./p>

DEEP SKY IMAGES

These are deep-sky images taken in the late 1990's using our then newly acquired SBIG ST-6 CCD camera, through our 16" telescope.

NGC 253 in Sculptor

NGC 253 in Sculptor is one of the largest nearby galaxies R.A. 00h 47m dec. 25° 17m mag. 7.1. This is a 30 second ST-6 CCD exposure of NGC 253

"Stephen's Quintet"

NGC 7317-20 "Stephan's Quintet" Interacting galaxies in pegasus R.A. 22h 36m dec. +33° 58m mag. 13. 1-13.6. This is a 4 minute ST-6 CCD exposure of Stephan's Quintet

NGC 7331

NGC 7331 is a spiral galaxy in Pegasus R.A. 22h 37m dec. 34° 24m mag 9.5. This is a 6 minute ST-6 CCD image of NGC 7331

STAR RESEARCH

Old School Refractors

In the 1980's I collected antique Clark Refractors. Here are two six inchers, and a five inch, dating from 1887, 1888, and 1889. Their image sharpness was sometimes used to visually estimate variable star brightness.

Walter Scott Houston

Mr. Houston proudly showed me his 4" clark refractor that he used to make the many wonderful observations for years described in his monthly column "Deep-Sky Wonders" for Sky and Telescope Magazine. He also was an avid variable star observer for the The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO).

Cataclysmic Binary Star System

This is an artist's concept of a cataclysmic binary star system. The normal low mass star at upper left is in orbit about a more massive, but much smaller, white dwarf star, which is situated at the...

SUPERNOVA PATROL

THE SP Program

We are carrying out a successful supernovae patrol program here at Arkansas Tech University. We initiated the monitoring program specifically to identify new extragalactic supernovae hopefully pre-maximum light. A Meade 12" LX-200 telescope and a SBIG ST6CCD imaging camera is used by student R. Tut Campbell and mentor Dr. Jeff Robertson. The use of this automated telescope is important as it increases the number of targets that can be imaged in a single night.�The use of the CCD camera is equally as important so as to increase the number of faint targets that are usually left untouched by visual observers.

Program Abstract

A Meade LX200 12-inch telescope equipped with an SBIG ST-6 CCD camera is being used to systematically monitor some 200+ spiral galaxies that lie less than 300 million light years from our Milky Way, in hopes of capturing the rise in light from a supernova outburst. Supernovae (of type-Ia) are important astrophysical objects because of their use as absolute distance indicators.

How Supernovas Form

Although many stars like our sun can remain stable for billions of years, more massive stars can race through their entire life cycles in a relatively short 10 million years or so, ending in a cataclysmic explosion called a supernova that literally tears the aging star apart. A supernova remnant is the expanding gaseous nebula created by these titanic explosions. Supernova remnants are of interest to many areas of astrophysics.