We are happy to announce that the upgrading of CESAR’s Solar Observatory conducted by Space Robotics has concluded successfully. The telescopes are already back to work, the new devices perform just as expected, and the observatory is now automatized and works on its own without human intervention.
About CESAR and its Solar Observatory
CESAR is an educational initiative of ESA‘s Science Space Astronomy Center (ESAC) whose main objective is to engage students with the wonders of astronomy and, more generally, science and technology. Multiple experiences are offered within this project, from guided visits to ESAC that include on-site practical experiences, to stand-alone online exercises that make use of real scientific data and provide students with hands-on experience in real astronomy measurements or studies.
Among other sources, this data is provided by CESAR’s Solar Observatory. The observatory was installed in ESAC back in 2012 and ever since it has been monitoring the Sun activity with two different telescopes: A 90/800 Coronado Solarmax II 90 with a 0.5Å bandwidth centred in H-alpha, and a 102/1000 Bresser AR-102 with a BAADER AstroSolar™ Safety Filter.
About the new upgrades
Two upgrades were performed to the observatory, a minor physical upgrade, and a major software upgrade. The first one consisted of custom-designed 3D-printed pieces that were introduced to improve the dome rotation and a new neoprene panels that now isolate the observatory from wet or showery weather. Once these changes were applied, we conducted a major software upgrade to fully automatize of the observatory. Right now, the computer autonomously checks the weather every morning, and if there is no risk for the equipment, it opens the dome, points the mount towards the Sun, focuses the telescopes, and begins taking images, all without human intervention. Images are then aligned, rotated and calibrated before being uploaded to a public online server.
With these three upgrades, we finished the project that began over a year ago and turned the CESAR Solar Observatory into a fully automatized observatory that performs complete observations on its own.
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