Bagdad Observatory

Bagdad Observatory open house nights are the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Dusk 'till 10 pm, 210 Hilltop Drive. Dress warmly. All ages welcome!

This is an amateur observatory in Bagdad, Arizona devoted mainly to seeking out faint asteroids and measuring their positions and brightnesses. Along the way I have taken images of some deep sky objects.

For this web site I have undertaken a Messier catalog project - thus far I've assembled images of just over half of the 110 deep space wonders on that list. Just getting images of them with a 12-inch telescope and a CCD camera isn't the hard part - but getting really nice ones can take a lot of work. I'll be updating this site often.

I've also got some astrophotos from New Zealand., and pictures of some comets, and some pictures of the moon.

(Click on any thumbnail to see the larger image.)
This is my 12-inch (30 cm) Meade LX-200 telescope.

This is a semi-permanent observatory, designed to last only a couple of years, so I have no permanent pier - the field tripod feet pass through holes in the floor and rest on cinder blocks on the ground. The winters here at 4,000 feet aren't too cold, and the polar alignment hasn't been affected noticeably by the ground freezing.

On the back is a Santa Barbara Instrument Group (SBIG) ST-6 CCD camera. Between the ST-6 and the LX-200 resides a JMI NGF-S focuser with digital read-out (DRO), and an f/6.5 focal reducer/field flattener lens. A Meade ETX 9 cm guide scope rides piggyback on the LX-200, with SBIG ST-4 CCD autoguider.
Most of the images on this web site were made with the ST-6. I've made a few color photos with my Olympus OM-1 camera on the LX-200 'scope.

The 'scope resides inside an 8X10-foot pre-fab steel shed. After assembling the shed, I removed the roof and modified it to roll back on a pair of wooden outriggers. It isn't elegant, but it works. On top I've rigged up sun shields to keep the inside cool, as the Arizona sun can easily heat the interior to 120+ F otherwise.

This tiny building sits in the back yard of an uninhabited house in Bagdad, Arizona. The school for which I work graciously allows me to use it as a dedicated observatory house. Thus I have heat, water, bathroom, and electricity.

Data and electric cables connect the telescope to my control center in the kitchen of the house. The left-hand computer, a Gateway Pentium 90, operates the ST-6 camera and performs image processing. The right-hand computer, a Compaq 386, controls the telescope. The DRO focuser is controlled by the small black box near the center. Next to that is a ZIP drive for data storage, and below that is an HP Photo scanner. The HP photo printer can be found at far left.

Right now I'm doing position measurements of asteroids, which I report to the Minor Planet Center of the IAU (observatory code 714, "Bagdad"). I have also started doing a little photometry of asteroids, i.e., measuring their brightness. By this means the rotation rate of asteroids can be measured.

The next great thing will be an Optec filter slider with a set of Johnson visual, red, and infrared (V R I) filters in order to do better photometry. I will also take up stellar photometry then. There will also be a set of photographic red, green, and blue filters (R G B) which will enable me to take color pictures with the ST-6 CCD.
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Last updated on 11-02-99.