The 197th annual meeting of the American
Astronomical Society was held jointly with the American
Association of Physics Teachers from January 7 to the 11, 2001 at San Diego California. DFM Engineering
set up a prominent display with one of our 16-inch telescopes as
the focus. The telescope was operational running under computer control from our Telescope
Control System (TCS), and from "THE SKY", from Software
Bisque. The Software Bisque programs ran our telescope and our filter wheel over the Internet,
partially demonstrating Software Bisque's impressive new Internet Access Remote Observing Suite
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings, visitors to our booth were able to fully exercise the Software
Bisque's Internet Access Remote Observing software by remotely operating the 18-inch telescope at the Little
Thompson Observatory in Berthoud, Colorado. They were able to command the telescope to Go To
coordinates, command the filter wheel, and acquire images from the telescope's CCD camera. These hands-on
demonstrations show that remote observing over the Internet is a reality.
Our visitors were provided data sheets describing our complete line of telescopes and support equipment.
The 16-inch telescope was equipped with our FW-82
eight position filter wheel, our new SM-125
Slide Mirror assembly, and a CCD camera loaned to us by Apogee
Instruments. The Slide Mirror assembly provides the traditional
"Flip Mirror" functions of field viewing and then switching to the straight through position for imaging.
It may also be used to switch between two different cameras. The assembly can be operated remotely from
the control room or manually operated at the telescope. A sliding mechanism is used because it is more
easily motorized than a rotating flip mirror.
We also had several articles available for our visitors. One of these articles discussed Telescope
Pointing and contained actual data from five DFM Telescopes and one older B & C telescope which we retrofitted with
our Telescope Control System. All of these telescopes point open loop (without optical feedback-which
is cheating) to better than 14 arc seconds RMS. The Dickinson
College DFM 24-inch telescope pointing error graphs were also included. This telescope points to
9.5 arc seconds RMS.
Another popular article was our newly revised booklet on "HOW
TO BUY A TELESCOPE FOR YOUR INSTITUTION". We had to make additional copies of the booklet
during the meeting to meet the demand. This booklet discusses many factors of choosing and evaluating
a telescope and ways to protect your institution.
We want to thank all of our collaborators for their part in making our display such a success. Software
Bisque and DFM have worked together for most of the past year refining the Internet Access software
and adding control for DFM telescopes and filter wheels. Tom Bisque also provided expert assistance at
our display demonstrating the capabilities and powerful features of their software. Tom Melsheimer, President
of the Little Thompson Observatory Foundation made
the telescope available and Andrea Schweitzer from the Little
Thompson Observatory coordinated the remote observing demonstrations from our display. Bryan Short
was the night assistant at the Little Thompson Observatory.
We also had assistance in setting up and tearing down our display from some of our customers including
Dr. Dan Caton and Lee Hawkins from Appalachian