Engineering Students Work on the Automated Patrol Telescope
(left) The Leonid meteor shower, 18 November 2001. (right) Final-year students from the Faculty of Engineering at Siding Spring Observatory in April 2001.

The School of Physics offers a number of interesting Honours-level thesis projects for students from other faculties. One example, attracting half a dozen students from the Faculty of Engineering each year, involves the School’s Automated Patrol Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory.

During 2001 the students worked on installing a state-of-the-art Controller Area Network system for controlling the telescope, and in writing Java software for making fully automated operation possible.

The students enjoy the challenge of working on a complex real-life system, as well as the opportunity to visit the picturesque location for the telescope, which is adjacent to the Warrumbungle National Park.

On 18 November 2001, the Automated Patrol Telescope was used remotely from Sydney to observe the Leonid meteor shower. The image is the result of adding a dozen individual images taken with the telescope, and shows a number of bright meteor streaks coming from the “radiant” of the meteor shower. It was raining in Sydney while the telescope was being used.

Michael Ashley

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