Science at Sierra Remote Observatories
In 2007 when SRO was founded, the partners were searching for a site with excellent seeing in order to further their hobby of astrophotography. Essentially the early SRO clients were engaged in astrophotography as an intensive hobby, but this has changed. There are now many clients engaged in scientific research as well as corporate clients who are hosting their systems at SRO.
One of the earlies scientists to perform research at SRO was Dr. Fred Ringwald, an astrophysicist from Fresno State University. Dr. Ringwald placed his 16” DFM, with its SBIG STX 16803 camera at Sierra Remote Observatories. He brought with him a wealth of knowledge, an army of graduate students, and ultimately produced a series of peer-reviewed papers on cataclysmic variable stars, among other subjects. Dr. Ringwald has continued his research on cataclysmic variable binary stars and related objects. These include novae, black holes and neutron stars, white dwarfs and hot subdwarfs, and the physics of their accretion disks and outflows. Other research interests include common envelope evolution, stellar magnetism, stellar winds, flare stars, and exoplanets. . Dr. Ringwald’s work can be viewed here: http://zimmer.csufresno.edu/~fringwal/sropubs.html and http://zimmer.csufresno.edu/~fringwal/opps.html .
This trend continued, and within a few years of first light, several “amateurs” were working with professional astronomers who published papers based on data from SRO. For example consider R. Jay Gabany, an advanced astrophotographer and Advanced Imaging Conference (AIC) board member. initially a skilled amateur astrophotographer, Gabany began to use pioneering techniques to reveal faint tidal streams and rings in the outer halos of large spiral galaxies that had been previously overlooked. As a result, Gabany’s images have helped scientists better understand how large galaxies such as our own Milky Way are built up through the collisions and mergers of many smaller galaxies. An example of Gabany’s work can be found in Stellar Tidal Streams in External Galaxies, JI Carlin, RI Beaton, D Martinez-Delgado and RJ Gabany, astro-ph.GA, 2016 .
Another example is Dick Post. Dick Post is an active member of the AAVSO, and installed a CDK24 at Sierra Remote Observatories. He has been studying “the ultimate variable star” – the supernova – working with the Puckett Supernova Search, and the ASAS-SN Group at Ohio State University. Several of the group’s discoveries are being followed, and Dick is a co-author of several papers, including: The ASAS-SN Bright Supernova Catalog -- III. 2016 T.W.-S. Holoien, et al, astro-ph.HE, 2016 and Gaia17biu/SN 2017egm In NGC 3191: The closest Hydrogen-Poor Superluminous Supernova to date is in a “Normal”, Massive Metal-Rich Spiral Galaxy, Subhash Boss, Subo Dong, et al., astro-ph.HE, 2017 .
With the addition of Geoff Stone as a partner, SRO gained another active AAVSO member who also works with the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernova (ASAS-SN) at The Ohio State University (http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/asassn/index.shtml), and the Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA), a global network of small telescopes studying cataclysmic variables. (http://cbastro.org/). Geoff is also a programmer and has worked with Bob Denny’s ACP and with other companies who design CCD Cameras and software. He has contributed data included in a number of papers including: New candidate of long-period , WZ Sge-type dwarf nova. Y Wakamatsu et al., astro-ph.SR, 2017 and Return of the King: Time-Series Photometry of FO Aquarii's Initial Recovery from its Unprecedented 2016 Low State, arXiv:1609.01026 [astro-ph.SR], 2016.
The initial trend of amateurs engaging in research was followed by the addition of universities and institutes at SRO. For example, several years ago, SRO welcomed astrophysicists Dr. Jurgen Wolf, from the University of Stuttgart, an astrophysicist who is associated with the U.S. and German SOFIA project. They placed the Astronomical Telescope of the University of Stuttgart (ATUS) at SRO, a 0.6-meter Ritchey-Chrétien telescope made by Officina Stellare (Italy). The ATUS Telescope has provided data used in the study of trans-Neptunian objects through stellar occultation and far-infrared photometry. The ATUS telescope also serves as test platform for hardware and software developed for SOFIA, and has conducted observations in parallel to SOFIA missions, such as extra-solar planet transits and of comets. An example of Dr. Wolf’s work was published by Astronomy and Astrophysics: https://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/full_html/2017/04/aa28620-16/aa28620-16.html#T2 (in this article SRO is listed as “Alder Springs” in Table 2).
Clients associated with universities and institutes include the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT). NARIT operates a Planewave 0.7 meter CDK-700. In addition there is the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) (https://www.kasi.re.kr/eng/index ). KASI uses their telescope to study the geology of the Moon using polarimetric speckle imaging. They are able to determine the mean size of the rock grains on the lunar surface, with the median grain size a measure of the degree of space weathering. They also plan to extend their targets to comets, asteroids, Mars, and the Martian moons in the near future.
Finally, over the past few years SRO has also added a number of space industry clients including iTelescope.Net and ExoAnalytics.
The iTelescope.Net T24 system hosted at SRO is a 24” Planewave CDK telescope with a FLI-PL09000 CCD camera. Time on this system is available through iTelescope.Net. You can see this scope at http://www.itelescope.net/telescope-t24/ and learn more about iTelescope.Net at http://www.itelescope.net/.
ExoAnalytics is involved in space situational awareness and has located a plethora of telescopes at SRO. You can learn more about them at https://exoanalytic.com/.
Clients currently include a number of universities, science institutes, space industries and advanced amateur imagers.
Today, the majority of our new clients are coming from the professional community. We are excited about this trend at SRO, and take pride in supporting the myriad, groundbreaking, and important research efforts that will shape our future.
The Lost Valley Observatory
Located at Sierra Remote Observatories
Keith B Quattrocchi