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Rothney Astrophysical Observatory


Rothney Astrophysical Observatory

Rothney Astrophysical Observatory
Organization University of Calgary
Location near Priddis, Alberta
Altitude 1,269 metres (4,163 ft)
Established 1972 (1972)
Rothney Astrophysical Observatory
A.R. Cross Telescope 1.8 m reflector
Baker-Nunn Telescope 0.5 m reflector
Clark-Milone Telescope 0.4 m reflector

The Rothney Astrophysical Observatory (RAO) is an astronomical observatory located near the hamlet of Priddis, Alberta, Canada, about 25 kilometres (16 mi) southwest of Calgary. The observatory is owned and operated by the University of Calgary (UC), and was dedicated in 1972.[1] The facility is used for research, undergraduate and graduate teaching, and public outreach. Research performed at the RAO included a variable star search program, follow-up observations of variable star discoveries, and detailed investigation of binary stars.[2][3][4] An outstanding minor planet search program was also performed with comet discoveries by Rob Cardinal. The RAO now participates in many follow-up observation programs, including the Quark Nova project.


  • Telescopes 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


  • The 1.8 m (71 in) A.R. Cross Telescope (ARCT) is a Ritchey-Chrétien design dedicated in 1987.[5] It is attached to an unusual altitude-altitude (alt-alt) mount which allows greater access to northern skies than other mounts.[6] It was originally equipped with 1.5 m (59 in) metal mirror acquired many years earlier, but even before the telescope was completed, plans were made to acquire a conventional mirror.[7] This new primary was fabricated in the 1980s and, under a cost-sharing agreement, used from 1990 to 1993 at Apache Point Observatory. The glass mirror was finally installed in 1996.[8] The telescope is equipped with the Rapid Alternate Detection System (RADS) developed at UC. The computer-controlled "chopping" of the secondary mirror enables observers to perform differential photometry with the telescope.
  • The 0.5 m (20 in) Baker-Nunn Telescope was built in 1957 and donated in 1981 to RAO by the Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake. It is a modified Cassegrain reflector which was used to track satellites under a United States Air Force program.[5] The original altitude-altitude-azimuth mount was replaced with a simpler equatorial mount when the telescoped was refurbished in 2004.[9] DFM Engineering performed the work with the help of UC.[10]
  • The 0.4 m (16 in) Clark-Milone Telescope (CMT), named after former co-directors Alan Clark and Eugene Milone, was installed at RAO in 1972.[11] It was used to develop RADS in the early 1980s.[12]

See also


  1. ^ "The Rothney Astrophysical Observatory | Observatories | AstroLab". ASTROLab of Mont-Mégantic National Park. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  2. ^ Williams; Milone (2011). "First results from the RAO Variable Star Search Program: I. Background, Procedure, and Results from RAO Field 1". arXiv:1101.5650 [astro-ph.GA].
  3. ^ Lenhardt, Tyler; Williams, M.; Milone, E.; Langill, P. (2006). "Study of a Variable Star Discovered with the 0.5-M F/1 Baker-nunn Patrol Camera of the RAO". American Astronomical Society Meeting 208 208: 83.  
  4. ^ Kijewski, K. E.; Milone, E. F. (1997). "New UBVRI Photometry of the Enigmatic Eclipsing Binary RT Lacertae". American Astronomical Society 189: 730.  
  5. ^ a b "History of the RAO | Rothney Astrophysical Observatory / University of Calgary". University of Calgary Department of Physics & Astronomy. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  6. ^ "The 1.8 meter ARCT Telescope". University of Calgary Department of Physics & Astronomy. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  7. ^ Peterson, Jim. "A Brief History of the Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC) and the Apache Point Observatory (APO)". Apache Point Observatory. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  8. ^ Milone, E. F.; Langill, P. (1999). "CCD Photometry with the A. R. Cross Telescope of the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory". Precision CCD Photometry 189: 103.  
  9. ^ Milone, E. F.; Robb, R. M.; Babott, F. M.; Hansen, C. H. (1982). "Rapid alternate detection system of the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory". Applied Optics 21 (16): 2992–5.  
  10. ^ "University of Calgary Modernizes Baker-Nunn Camera". DFM Engineering. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  11. ^ "The 0.4 meter Telescope". University of Calgary Department of Physics & Astronomy. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  12. ^ Milone, E. F.; Robb, R. M. (1983). "Photometry with the Rapid Alternate Detection System". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 95: 666.  

External links

  • Rothney Astrophysical Observatory homepage
  • Rothney Astrophysical Observatory Clear Sky Chart Forecasts of observing conditions.
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