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Comet Captured

While not spectacular, C2009 P1 Garradd is one of the brightest comets visible during the summer of 2011  From some dark skies in the rural area and a pair of binoculars, this solar system visitor should be visible.  Currently at magnitude ~8, the comet will brighten during the month of August.

This image is a composite of images totaling 11 minutes taken on 2011-08-05 between 04:18 and 04:24 UT using the 0.4m telescope. Note the faint, but broad dust trail that flows below the coma (head) of the comet.

Lunar Eclipse Movie

The Total Lunar eclipse on December 12, 2010 was memorable, and it will be sometime before North America witnesses a similar phenomenon.  A movie of the eclipse was compiled from images taken with equipment at Newcastle Observatory.

Supporting STARE

Beginning July 10 and continuing through to November 2011, surveillance of four (4) Seyfert galaxies will be conducted in support of the Southern Telescope AGN Reverberation Experiment (STARE).  As indicated on the STARE web site, the goal is to measure the masses of black holes that exist in the cores of these galaxies:

NGC 6814
NGC 7213
NGC 7469
NGC 1566

Helping Hubble

The Space Telescope Science Institute's Hubble Heritage Project, used data supplied by Newcastle Observatory through the AAVSO to image "the star that changed the universe".  It is a Cephied variable designated "V1" by Edwin Hubble that he imaged in 1923 with the 100 inch Hooker telescope atop Mount Wilson, California.  This was the first variable star used by Edwin Hubble to determine the true scale of the universe.

Monitoring V2306 Cyg

The cataclysmic variable (CV) star V2306 Cyg is being monitored nightly (weather permitting).  Data will be submitted to the Center for Backyard Astrophysics.

GCN Follow-up

On March 26, 2009, Newcastle Observatory joined NASA's Gamma Ray Burst Coordinates Network (GCN) to perform follow-up optical astrometric (postional) and photometric observations of gamma ray bursts (GRBs).

Mrk 421 Campaign

Newcastle Observatory is participating in a concerted multi-wavelength campaign to observe Markarian 421 - a BL Lacerta type object.

The goals are to study the flux over a long baseline and over timescales as short as a few minutes.  This will provide opportunity to gather data should the source flare. These observations will permit a better understanding of the underlying physics in Markian 421 in particular, and in BL Lacerta objects in general.

First GRB Imaged

Newcastle Observatory Detects a Gamma Ray Burst.

On 5 February UT, the field of GRB 110205A detected by SWIFT (trigger 444643) was observed, beginning approximately 49 minutes after the GRB trigger, with the Newcastle Observatory 0.4 meter robotic telescope, located in Newcastle, Ontario, Canada (Bortle Class 4-5 sky). Observations were made under transparent skies, but with poor seeing. Weather was good with an ambient temperature of -4C. No Moon was present.

Robotic Capability

The main telescope at Newcastle Observatory now has robotic capability with the addition of ACP and ACP Scheduler.  The telescope, dome, imaging and guiding cameras, and focuser are controlled by scripted software so that astrometry and photometry can be performed unattended (i.e. without human intervention).  This automation includes shutting down all equipment and closing the dome shutter at the end of an observing run.

MPC Code Assigned

The Minor Planet Center Assigns Newcastle Observatory Code H61

On Wednesday, November 19 at 4:31 PM EST, Newcastle Observatory was advised via e-mail from Gareth Williams, Associate Director of the Minor Planet Center (MPC), that it was assigned observatory code H61. This signifies that Newcastle Observatory is capable of making astrometric observations of acceptable quality.


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