jump to navigation

50″ Dedication: World’s Largest Privately Owned Research Telescope October 20, 2014

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Observatory, telescopes.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

On a nightly basis, Holmes quietly monitors the universe.  He does so from his rural Westfield home, located about 10 miles east of Charleston, and he stills uses telescopes – although they’ve graduated greatly in size. In fact, Holmes recently completed the construction and installation of a 50-inch (size of the mirror) telescope, making him the proud owner of the largest privately owned telescope in the world.  It is the fourth in a collection that also includes a 24-inch, a 30-inch and a 32-inch telescope – each of which has its own outbuilding to keep it safe from the elements.

50inch2

Scale View of the 50″ telescope (Photo by Mike Lockwood)

“The buildings are about 10-feet wide, with roofs that slide straight back,” Dr. Steve Daniels, EIU Physics Chair said. “Bob did his own design.”“There’s a microwave link between the observatory on Bob’s property and EIU,” he continued.  “It’s Web-based, made possible as a result of a very strong collaborative effort.”Holmes’ connection with Eastern goes even deeper.“As an adjunct professor, he hosts our astronomy classes; they go out to his property a couple of times a year, at least,” Daniels said.  “And he works closely with Jim Conwell, the physics professor who built Eastern’s own observatory.“Students are an integral part of Bob’s work,” he added.  “And not just with students at EIU.  Through his work, Bob reaches about 300 schools in 40 countries, working with students to analyze the multitude of data that he collects.  He helps researchers – both young and old – by making his equipment available to Skynet, an internet-based telescope-sharing network.

Perry50inch

Bob Holmes and EIU President William Perry

“He generates an enormous database of photographs that he collects almost every night, and then uploads it to the Web for others to use.  He holds workshops to train teachers to analyze astronomical data, including how to identify asteroids in a series of photographs, and encourages them to pass this knowledge along to their own students,” Daniels said.

Of course, Holmes does continue to spend many of his nights in solitude, gazing up into the skies.  And he continues to break records for discovering and tracking Near Earth Objects.  In fact, despite the many major observatories, Holmes is responsible for nearly half of all NEO measurements made in 2011.

“In other words, his observatory is responsible for more NEO data that anyplace else in the world,” Daniels said.  “From his observatory in Westfield, Bob Holmes stands guard over our world.

Excerpts were taken from the full article that can be seen at EIU.

Advertisements

Two Year Project Done August 16, 2013

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Observatory, telescopes.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

This week we have completed a two year long project to connect the telescopes at the Astronomical Research Institute (ARI) to the high speed internet access at EIU. This was done with a direct, line of sight,  microwave link over the 12 miles separating ARI and the EIU campus. This increases the bandwidth to upload images every night by a factor of at least 15.

The new wide-field camera (32 megabytes per image) took 10-15 minutes per image to up load, under the old connection.  At times it wasn’t even possible as the uploader gave up and stopped running.  It takes about 30-40 seconds now per image with zero failure rate.  The 2 meg images on the other cameras are less than 2-3 seconds.

Just two telescopes took 12-16 hrs for upload with just the 2 meg images with the old internet.  ARI never even tried the new camera on the old internet except to test the time it took.  Now all three scopes can be uploaded in about 90 minutes.  That’s about 2,500 images or 6 gigs of data.  We are typically done by 6am!

Some day the 50 inch will be working and adding another 1.5 gigs of data per night with the large format Apogee camera. Until then enjoy a look at one of the first test pictures uploaded from the wide field camera on the 30″ telescope. the galaxy M33

Image

M33: Taken by Robert Holmes (Click to enlarge)

Thank you to the Haunted Observatory Crew October 29, 2012

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Observatory.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

This last Friday we had our annual Halloween open house at the observatory. Thanks to all the pumpkin carvers and heroes who made it all possible!

Some of the fearless pumpkin carvers.

And some of our favorite heroes of the night

Family Open House Tonight September 28, 2012

Posted by jcconwell in Observatory.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

EIU Observatory

Tonight beginning at 8:30 we will have our monthly open house at the EIU Observatory. This month we will have a full moon and with clear skies, we will observe the Ring Nebula through the 16″ main scope. Some come on out and meet the members of the Astronomy Club and rotate our dome!

GUEST POSTS THIS WEEK July 20, 2012

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Over the next few days we will have a special treat. Some guest bloggers from my summer astronomy class for science teachers will be commenting on some cosmic and terrestrial topics that caught their interests this summer.

OBSERVATORY OPEN HOUSE 9:00PM TONIGHT June 29, 2012

Posted by jcconwell in Observatory.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Come to the Saturn viewing tonight. Last month was a little cloudy, but tonight looks clear. Viewing this close to the summer solstice, not only is it HOT (103 today), but the sun sets the latest of the year. So we will  begins at 9:00PM TONIGHT. Parking is at the campus lot near the Methodist church. Because of construction on 4th street you may have to approach from the South.

FUNDRAISER AT YERKES OBSERVATORY February 19, 2012

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Observatory.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

30" RC Astroscope

Yerkes Skynet Night Registration

You are invited…

YERKES OBSERVATORY

Skynet Night

Yerkes Observatory event Friday Feb. 24th – 7:00 PM

page1image3216

In 2012, Yerkes will be engaged in a series of fund-raising events to support the restoration and upgrades of Yerkes telescopes and support funding for Yerkes Education Outreach programs. On Friday evening February 24th, Yerkes will host the first of these events.

Supporting SKYNET and Yerkes telescopes

Funds from this first event will be used specifically to upgrade the mirror coating and operation of the Yerkes 41″ reflector, and to support the redesign of the optics of the reclaimed Hands-On Universe 30” telescope by Robert Holmes of the Astronomical Research Institute. Both of these telescopes are operable through SKYNET (http://skynet.unc.edu/), a world-wide network of telescopes, used by scientists, and teachers and students associated with our Yerkes Education Programs and our Collaborators, including Hands-On Universe (HOU) and International Asteroid Search Campaign (IASC).

Limited participation, register now!

Participation will be limited to 100 guests; cost $50 per person. There will be several scientists, engineers, educators and students attending to mingle with the guests to discuss SKYNET, our participation in SKYNET and the plans we have to restore Yerkes telescopes. If weather permits, guests will also be invited to do some stargazing through the Yerkes great refractor. Wear warm clothes (domes are not heated) and shoes appropriate for climbing narrow stairs; flashlights are suggested as well.

It is our hope to find benefactors among the guests who will be interested in a contribution beyond the initial $50.

Name___________________________________________ Address___________________________________________ City______________________________ State _____________ Zip__________ YES, _____________ Person(s) will attend @ $50 per person

Check enclosed for $_________________

Checks payable to: University of Chicago, Yerkes Observatory
Send checks to Yerkes Observatory, 373 W. Geneva Street, Williams Bay, WI 53191 Additional information, phone: 262-245-5555, fax: 262-245-9805
You may also register online at http://astro.uchicago.edu/yerkes/yo_feb24/index.html 

NEW PODCAST: Countdown for Upcoming Solar Eclipses November 15, 2011

Posted by jcconwell in Podcast, Sun.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

http://365daysofastronomy.org/2011/11/14/november-14th-countdown-for-upcoming-solar-eclipses/

Description: Noted astronomer Dr. Jay Pasachoff talks about the upcoming solar eclipses through 2017.

Bio: Jay Pasachoff, Chair of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Eclipses, is Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College. He has viewed 53 solar eclipses, and is an expert on both their use for scientific observations and their use for public education. Pasachoff is past president of the International Astronomical Union’s Commission on Education and Development and Chair-Elect of the Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society. He received the Education Prize of the American Astronomical Society. Pasachoff is the author of textbooks on astronomy and of the Field Guide to the Stars and Planets, and co-author of Nearest Star: The Surprising Science of Our Sun and, on a more technical level, The Solar Corona. His research at the two eclipses of 2012 is supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

16″ Telescope in the Repair Shop November 6, 2011

Posted by jcconwell in Observatory, telescopes.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

The campus observatory’s 16″ telescope has been under the weather for the last month or so. We thought it might have been electrical problems in the building, but my two students, Tyler and Hannah traced it to one of the circuit boards that deal with the RA (Right Ascension) drive. That’s the motor that moves the telescope East and West, and also tracks objects as the Earth rotates. You can see the picture below as Hannah puts the mount back together to ship it off to Meade. Sometimes the best education happens when things don’t work. There is no better major than physics to teach problem solving skills.

Hannah and the 16" Mount

We hope to have the telescope back and running in a couple weeks. Until then we can use the 30″ telescope we helped refurbished at ARI, and the 16″ telescopes in Chile.

SKY & TELESCOPE Article on Local Observatory November 4, 2011

Posted by jcconwell in Asteroids, Astronomers, Observatory, telescopes.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

December 2011 Issue

The December Issue of Sky & Telescope has hit the newsstand this week. The feature article is on Bob Holmes, an adjunct professor in the Physics Department here at EIU.  Bob is director of the Astronomical Research Institute (ARI), a private research observatory about 15 miles away from Charleston. He is one of NASA’s principle people who does orbital measurements of Near Earth Object (NEOs). These are potentially hazardous asteroids that intersect near the Earth’s orbit. All done with telescopes that he BUILT! I’ll tell you next week about the his new 50″ telescope, with picture of the mount installation, that will be fully installed next year. It  make ARI the largest privately owned observatory in the world.