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CBA Belgium Observatory

CBA Belgium Observatory is a privately owned astronomical observatory, located in Landen, Belgium, and operated by Tonny Vanmunster. My mission is to make high-accuracy photometric CCD studies, primarily of variable stars.

My observatory is the Belgian node of the Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA), a worldwide network of professional and amateur astronomers to study Cataclysmic Variables. Next to my CBA activities, I actively participate in cataclysmic variable star observing campaigns of other organisations (a/o AAVSO). 

I also contribute exoplanet observations to XO and Transitsearch.org, and occasionally cooperate with other amateur and professional astronomers in studies of Delta Scuti stars and RR Lyrae stars.

The Observatory

CBA Belgium Observatory is located in Flanders, Belgium. It is a remotely controlled observatory, that can be operated autonomously all night long. The only human interaction required is for opening and closing of the observatory, and initialisation of the telescopes, CCD cameras and computers. The building has a roll-off roof structure, and is measuring 3m by 4m. More pictures.

The Telescopes

CBA Belgium Observatory hosts two 0.35-m f/6.3 Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes for CCD photometry.

A first telescope is mounted on an AstroTechniek FM-98 German equatorial mount, and is equipped with a SBIG ST-7XME CCD camera (Kodak KAF-0400 CCD for imaging and Texas Instruments TC211 CCD for guiding). The telescope drive unit is an FS2 system from Astro-Electronic.

The second telescope is mounted on an Astro-Physics AP1200 GTO German equatorial mount, and is equipped with a SBIG ST-7XME CCD camera with filter wheel. An electro-mechanical, height-adjustable Pier-Tech PT2 telescope pier supports the second telescope. 

Both telescopes use an Optec TCF-S unit for temperature controlled focus adjustment and remote focus operations. 

0.35-m f/6.3 telescope mounted on Astro-Physics AP1200-GTO mount. SBIG ST-7XME CCD camera. 

0.35-m f/6.3 telescope mounted on Astrotechniek FM-98 mount. SBIG ST-7XME CCD camera. 

The observatory furthermore houses laptop computers to control the telescopes and CCD cameras.

The observatory computers are coupled through a wireless network connection with a desktop computer, located in the house of the observatory owner. The desktop computer allows full remote control and does instantaneous photometry reduction of acquired FITS images. More pictures.


The Software

Following software packages are in use at CBA Belgium Observatory :

camera control, telescope guiding and unfiltered photometric imaging are all done using MaxIm DL/CCD (Cyanogen Productions Inc.). Images are stored as FITS files.

telescope control is done using TheSky Astronomy Software (Software Bisque)

all frames use 2 * 2 chip summation and are corrected for standard debiasing and flat-fielding. They are reduced using the aperture photometry function of  MIRA or MaxIm DL/CCD.

the output files with differential magnitudes, produced by the above photometry software, are almost instantaneously post-processed using an Excel workbook AIP4Plot, that has been developed by CBA member Lew Cook.

Light curve and period analysis of my variable star data is done using Peranso, a package written by myself.

Herbert Raab's Astrometrica software is used for astrometry calculations.

sky conditions are monitored through a special software package, called StarMon, written by myself. It generates an alarm sound if clouds enter the observing field.

a bundle of proprietary software modules written by myself in VBScript and using the ASCOM (Astronomers Common Object Model) standardization initiative.



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Copyright 2007 - Tonny Vanmunster. All rights reserved