My Week at Pine Mountain Observatory

August 03, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I recently had the opportunity to spend a week at Pine Mountain Observatory to help with an Astronomy Research Camp for high school students. PMO is located about 20 miles east of Bend, OR in the high desert, and is run by the University of Oregon. We camped in a primitive Forest Service Campground, and enjoyed some of the most spectacular Milky Way vistas that I've ever seen.

 

 

Pine Mountain Observatory

 

The Research Camp is organized by Rick Watkins, Professor of Physics at Willamette University in Salem OR. There were 6 of us leading research groups with 3 or 4 students each. Research topics included spectroscopy, photometry, astrometry, and variable stars. Most of the leaders brought their own telescopes and cameras, but I was fortunate enough to be able to use the 24" Boller and Chivens refractor, housed in a large dome.

 

 

The 24" B&H refractor is an f/13.5 instrument, resulting in a focal length of over 8 meters. I attached my QSI583wsg camera, which ended up with a small field of view - about 7' x 5'. Therefore, my team concentrated on astrometric measurements during the week. We observed the motion of Pluto over several nights (which didn't agree with published values) and were also able to measure the proper motion of Barnard's Star over 3 nights. That measurement agreed very closely with the published value - I was very proud of my team!

 

PMO Team

 

It was an intense week of late nights, short days, hard work, and fun. I hope to return next year!

 


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