NFCC's Astronomical Observatory is a fully remote controlled research-grade facility, which can be used from anywhere with an internet connection. All functions, such as opening the dome, cooling the instrument camera, pointing the telescope, changing camera filters, taking images, and much more can be performed from a computer linked into the observatory computer. Some functions are performed automatically even when there is not an actual person sitting in front of a computer sending commands.

Remote and robotic functions ensure that the optimal conditions for astronomical observations are maintained. Taking a astrophoto means shooting the night sky. To successfully obtain the beautiful images of galaxies and nebulae, long exposure times are usually needed, which also means that any undesired light from street lights or cars spoil image quality. Remote control eliminates the need of any person being actually at the observatory when in use, and therefore eliminates the presence of cars at the facility or the need of illumination for people to get safely around. The typical observation session uses three computer monitors as the virtual Control Room for the observers - and this Control Room can be an air conditioned room far away from the telescope and its cameras. - Mosquito free astronomy!


Weather Station

Explanation of Clear Sky Chart.

Observatory Weather Station:

The weather station at the observatory delivers inside and outside temperatures, inside and outside humidity, rain rate and cumulative precipitation, wind speed and direction, and many more weather related information. All those data, together with a cumulative monthly weather report is automatically updated on campus servers.

Astronomy Projects

Astronomy Projects

The moon, the planets, comets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies, and more are targets for the observatory. The images above are the result of some of the past or current projects.

Outreach

During one of Jefferson County's 4H Summer Camps students learned about astronomy, robots, and drones. At the end of the session a drone took an aerial photograph of the group, their counselors, and Director John Lilly in front of the observatory. (Picture taken with the assistance of Allen Vanerson, Jefferson County Extension Office, and using one of the Young Engineers Club's drones.)

4H Summer Camp 2017