Blog - Monthly Updates

What’s Going on with the RASC Robotic Telescope?

Our Robotic Telescope Project consists of three teams: Astrophotography, Science, and Outreach. More about these teams can be found in the tabs to the left.  Each month, we will update you on the current work being done in the above projects. These updates will be posted here as well as sent out in the RASC Monthly Bulletin. See past updates on the teams' updates pages!

If you ever have any questions about the telescope program, please contact  

This Month's Featured Photo:

A picture of galaxy M61 with supernova SN2020jfo marked when at magnitude V=15.82.  This star-burst galaxy has been host to previous supernovae in 1926, 1961, 1964, 1999, 2006, 2008, 2014.

March 2022: Science Update

In addition to taking pretty pictures, the RASC Remote Telescope can be used for science.  In fact, a small science team has been learning the ropes of scientific observation with the telescope since it went operational.  A lot of effort has been and continues to be put into characterizing the scope, assessing its performance, and exploring its limitations.  We have developed guidelines for observers to be able to estimate the exposure required for targets of various magnitudes in the different filters.  The camera is equipped with astrophotography filters so we have measured how to transform magnitudes measured through the RGB filters into magnitudes in the more scientifically useful Johnson-Cousins BVR colour bands.  We did a little bit of astrometry of asteroids in order to obtain an observatory code from the Minor Planet Center so we can submit observations.  All this is being documented in a Science Observing Manual that will tell potential observers what they need to know to design an observing program.

 The Science team has been allocated the use of the telescope on Monday and Friday nights.  We have kept the telescope very busy over the past nearly two years, having taken a total of over 20,000 images. We have experimented with observations of asteroids, supernovae, cataclysmic variable stars (data shared with the Center for Backyard Astrophysics), and searching for novae in the Andromeda Galaxy. 

Observations lately have concentrated mainly on a class of pulsating stars called delta Scuti stars.  These are short period (a few hours) low-amplitude variables named for the first of this type which was detected as a variable in the year 1900.  Since then many thousands of del Sct stars have been discovered with light variations from a few thousandths of a magnitude to nearly a whole magnitude.  Many of the stars exhibit radial and non-radial pulsation in several or even up to several dozen different frequencies simultaneously.  This is a widely varied group of stars and we don’t yet fully understand the effects of the star’s age and evolution, its metallicity (the fraction of elements heavier than helium) and its rotation on how the stars pulsate.

 Some other ideas for future observing projects include photometry of variable stars in globular clusters, variable stars and supernovae in other galaxies,  photometry of AAVSO alert targets in support of Hubble and JWST observations, searching for ultra-faint dwarf galaxies or stellar streams, photometry of asteroids including Jupiter Trojans and Trans-Neptunian Objects, astrometry of near-Earth objects, and hunting visual counterparts to gamma-ray bursts or gravitational wave events.

- Rick Wagner, Science Team Lead