UND Observatory update
The UND Observatory renovations to remove and replace the old trailer were finished in early September. In late July, the trailer was permanently removed from the site. Interesting trivia: this trailer has been on the UND inventory list since at least 1974. This old trailer has been replaced with a newer mobile office trailer.
The three optical telescopes at the UND Observatory are now operational. Internet Observatory #1 has been used in support of a Space Studies non-thesis project that is being conducted by Lee Graves. He has been observing V2197 Cygni, which is an eclipsing binary star system. His goal is to determine the eclipse period for these stars. Gordon Gartrelle, who recently gave his thesis proposal presentation to Space Studies, is conducting asteroid light curve photometry of 12 asteroids. His research is well underway. He has been using Internet Observatory #2, but is transitioning now to Internet Observatory #1. His work will continue into 2011.
Dr. Hardersen submitted a UND Aerospace Student Tech Fee proposal to replace the mount in Internet Observatory #1 with a Paramount ME German Equatorial mount, which is the same type of mount that is used in Internet Observatory #3. The Paramount ME is a higher quality mount that should resolve numerous issues with the current mount on Observatory #1. A funding decision will probably be known before the end of calendar year 2010.
Dr. Hardersen will also begin developing two long-term observing projects for the UND Observatory in the near-future. One challenge for the UND Observatory as winter approaches is to see how robust the telescopes are at cold temperatures.