Comet Pojmanski, C/2006 A1 as Captured by AREO2 of the RAS Observatory in New Mexico

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Discovered by Grzegorz Pojmanski (Warsaw University Astronomical Observatory), Comet Pojmanski, C/2006 A1 is rapidly growing brighter every day.

At dawn today, March 5, 2006, AREO2, a remote telescope system operated by the RAS Observatory of New Mexico, captured this color image of Comet Pojmanski, C/2006 A1.

AREO2 is a Takahashi Mewlon 300 with an SBIG ST8XE CCD Camera. The telescope is mounted on a Paramount ME robotic mount. The series of images which consisted of 5 sets of 20 seconds each taken through 4 different filters L, R, G and B was taken remotely from Fountain Valley, California.

Within seconds of acquisition the raw images were winging their way through the 900 miles of fiber optic cable from New Mexico to San Diego, California where they would connect to the main backbone of the internet. From the San Diego connection they would be almost instantaneously received in the Fountain Valley Control Center.

The raw image were then calibrated and assembled in MaxIM DL a popular image processing software application. When combined, the total exposure for the finished image was 500 seconds.

The RAS Observatory operates 5 separate remote telescope systems. The observatory operator, Arnie Rosner commented, “All 5 systems were trained on the Comet at the same time this morning. There were observers from Germany, Italy, Ohio, USA, California, USA and the Netherlands all imaging simultaneously.”

See the newly loaded images. One captured by RASO's ICRAR member, Ernesto Guido of Italy using AREO3 and AREO4 and the other, an animated GIF image by Klaas Jobse of the Netherlands.

According to Arnie, membership to the RAS Observatory (http://www.ras-observatory.org) is available to the public. Rosner added, “Almost every clear night, we see folks with little or no experience log into our systems and take their own deep space images. The results are absolutely astounding. They can’t believe their own eyes.” He grinned. "It is almost like operating a ground based Hubble telescope," he concluded.

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Arnie Rosner
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