Faint Star Monitor Stations

The Faint Star Monitor stations are a subset of AAVSOnet.  They offer members an opportunity to do CCD/CMOS multi-filter observing of stars from 8 to 20 in Vmag with robotically controlled telescopes in both the northern and southern hemispheres.  Images are automatically calibrated and are provided to the user for analysis.  They can also be automatically forwarded to a VPhot account.


The three-person team operating the Sonoita Research Observatory (Dirk Terrell, Walt Cooney and John Gross) approached Arne Henden at a Society of Astronomical Sciences meeting in 2005.  While they had a C-14 (35cm) telescope operating remotely in Arizona, they wanted to improve its operation and obtain professional-level photometry.  Changes were made in the operating procedures to include standard fields, and a calibration pipeline was created at the AAVSO HQ to not only dark-subtract and flat-field images, but to also extract photometry and perform transformed differential photometry.  The initial use of the system was to calibrate variable-star fields for AAVSO observers, but sufficient time remained on the telescope to open its use to the membership.  A later upgrade replaced the original C-14 OTA with a 50cm f/4 3-mirror system and an improved camera.

Since that time, agreements have been made with other half-meter class telescopes across the world, adding them to AAVSOnet for membership use.  The second such telescope was the Optical Craftsman 61cm telescope in New Zealand, with an MoU signed in 2006 with the University of Canterbury.  All of the larger telescopes are not owned by the AAVSO.  In many cases, the AAVSO funded refurbishment of the telescope to make it robotic, and provided a scientific camera and filters.  These arrangements give partial access to these telescopes in exchange for the automation expertise and funding from the AAVSO.

We've looked for those sites that provide a feature not normally found with amateur telescopes - excellent seeing, great longitude/latitude, perhaps a spectrograph or very wide field.  We're always looking for more such facilities!


Sonoita Research Observatory (SRO) - Arizona
SRO50- SRO 50cm Telescope - Gross

New Mexico State University (NMSU) - New Mexico
TMO61- Tortugas Mountain Observatory 0.61m Telescope - Walker

Mount John University Observatory (MJUO) - New Zealand
OC61- Optical Craftsman 0.61m Telescope - Staels