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Status of AAVSOnet scopes

mrv's picture
mrv
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Joined: 2010-12-21

I submitted a proposal early last year to observe several old novae with AAVSOnet.  My proposal was approved and I received about a month's worth of data from K35 before this scope was shut down for the monsoon season last summer.  Last fall, all of the AAVSOnet scopes at Astrokolkhoz observatory were taken offline and relocated.  We were told that the proposals that used these scopes would be allocated to other AAVSOnet scopes.  It has now been a full year since I have received data from any AAVSOnet scope.  There are many other observers in a similar situation.  I was wondering what the status of the rest of the network was and when we can expect to receive data again? 

With regard to my proposal, one of the old novae on my list, X Ser, appears to be active again based on a single image I received from the BRT.  According to WebObs, no one has reported observations of this star in the past month.  So it would be nice to observe this star now with greater frequency than I can on a scope like the BRT.


Bob

Do your own observing!?
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lmk
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Hi Bob, I am sorry to hear about all the issues with the automated scopes networks. But, your avatar photo shows a nice big Dob scope, why not use that as often as you like instead? (Kind suggestion only...)

Mike LMK

Status of AAVSOnet Scopes
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HQA
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Joined: 2010-05-10

Hi Bob,

Thanks for reminding me that I needed to post an update!  Here is the current status of the telescopes. We've been really busy getting scopes on-line, but we should have switched some programs over to the new systems already.  Part of the problem was that when K35 was shut down, we lost knowledge of what stars were currently running in its queue. My apologies, and we will try to be better in the future.  I'll look at your proposal and get as much on the W30/Bareket queues (especially X Ser) as possible.

Arne

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BSM-NM:  This is installed at Bill Stein's observatory near Cloudcroft, but has not been polar aligned.  There are some logistical improvements (such as remote roof operation) that are yet to be completed, but it is monsoon now and any observing is unlikely until September.

BSM-South:  Fully operational, except that Peter Nelson just had a computer failure.  New parts are on their way, and the system should be up and running in a few days.

BSM-Berry:  On HQ roof.  We will be installing an automated shelter from Gary Walker in a few weeks, and then starting to operate this system in a more regular fashion.

W28:  After moving from Astrokolkhoz, this telescope was placed into storage at Lowell Observatory.  We hope to get it running this fall.

W30: Fully operational at Bill Goff's observatory in CA.  Several improvements were made, including the addition of the STL-1001E camera, more filters, and an external guider.

Bareket35: logistics in place, with tests to begin shortly.

SRO50: Fully operational, though shutdown for monsoon.  We will be adding more filters before things start up in September.

TMO61: we just replaced the CCD camera with a QSI-683.  This system is operational, though shut down due to the monsoon.  We will be adding new filters in August in preparation for restart in September.

OC61: Fully operational, with data collected on every clear night.  The automated pipeline is nearly complete at HQ; we just need to add automatic master flat creation.

X Ser observations
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hambsch
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Hi Bob,

if of interest (and that seems to be the case), I can take snapshots of X Ser every clear night from my remote site. I am anyway observing stars in Ser so adding this one will not harm.

Regards,

Josch

Re: Status of AAVSOnet Scopes
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mrv
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Joined: 2010-12-21

Arne,

Thanks for the update.  Most of the old novae on my proposal list are currently rather faint and are probably not priority targets.  The only exceptions are X Ser and three RN: CI Aql, V2487 Oph and V3890 Sgr.  Not sure if anyone else is covering these three RN with AAVSOnet.  So, I would only bother with these four targets instead of my entire list of two dozen targets.

 

Mike,

I would love to use my 20" Dob as well as my own CCD gear but I injured my legs a couple years ago and can't stand or walk much.  I mainly use a wheelchair to get around now.  Hence, I've been using various online telescopes like AAVSOnet and BRT to try and stay active with VSOing.

Bob

The power of large numbers
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lmk
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Joined: 2010-07-23

Bob, Sorry I didn't realize your situation. Obviously, remote observing is best suited for you. This has however rekindled my thoughts regarding best utilization of observing resources for VSO.

As Arne's status report shows, currently only 2/9 AAVSOnet scopes are fully operational. The rest are down for various reasons such as weather, equipment failures, lack of operators, etc. This simply reflects the reality of uptime of complex systems. If you look at what it takes to keep sophisticated electromechanical systems running 24/7, its a substantial cost in infrastructure, backups, trained personnel working shifts, etc. Typically budgets of such data centers runs in the millions of dollars. Obviously beyond the scope of AAVSO!

On the other hand, I dont know even the approximate numbers, but we must have thousands of registered observers around the world. I suspect a vast majority of the visual observations in the database are produced by just a handful of very prolific observers. What about the potential of the remaining 99.99% of observers, who could contribute a few observations a week, but do not?

Now, you can say most of those inactive observers are not able to observe because they live in areas which are too cloudy, light polluted, they lack any equipment to observe with, dont have the time or motivation, etc. But if we could succeed in getting those large numbers of people to do just a couple of variables a week, at their convenience, the results would outstrip the AAVSOnet by far!

Take X Ser for example, while positive observations at its current brightness require some aperture and good conditions, anyone with binoculars or small telescope in almost any location could estimate it less than mag 10, which would be signficant its not in outburst. I believe the main issue is that most of the inactive observers probably don't realize that they could really contribute useful information with what they have at hand, and even a small part of a large distributed worldwide observer pool is significant.

Mike LMK

Modic novae
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HQA
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Hi Bob,

I've added your four highest priority targets to the W30 queue.  When observations begin, check the exposures.  Since W30 is smaller than K35 and in a poorer location, I've set it up to do 3xB, 3xV, 3xI so that you can both stack and get a better estimate of the signal/noise.

Arne

Re: Status of AAVSOnet Scopes
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mrv
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Arne,

Thanks for adding my targets to the W30 queue.  If I have questions about things like exposure time, number of exposures/filter, etc., should  I ask you or the site manager Bill Goff?

Bob

Status of AAVSOnet Scopes
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sfy
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So with only 2/9 scopes apparently working, what about the much-heralded Mount John NZ instrument, is that OC61?

 

Go well!

Jeremy

OC61
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HQA
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Hi Jeremy,

Yes, OC61 is the Mt. John telescope, as described at:

http://www.aavso.org/mount-john-university-observatory-mjuo

It has contributed many of the astrometric positions of the cataclysmic variables being observed with HST, along with some other smaller projects currently: a survey of old novae, monitoring of southern RCrB stars, and some Z Cam stars.  It is available for use by the membership, if you submit a proposal.

Arne

W30 exposure questions
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HQA
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Hi Bob,

If you need changes to the exposure times, etc., contact me for now.  Once the queues stabilize, I'll hand over the reins to someone else. Thanks!

Arne

AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 aavso@aavso.org 617-354-0484