For one of our observing sessions, we will be using the Sierra College Robotic Observatory over the internet to acquire images of certain celestial objects. The observatory is located at the Nevada County Campus. The acquisition of images is done through the Internet and a web browser.

In class the instructor will instruct you on how to choose celestial objects for image acquisition. This document is meant to give you the policies and procedures for conducting your acquisition.


All students are expected to know and understand the following policies:

1.    The Robotic Telescope data taking will be expected to be done by October 30.

2.    On any given night during a robotic observation period, the robotic observatory is available for student use from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am (this is subject to change).

a.    This time period is broken into 30-minute intervals beginning at 9:00 pm and the last one starting at 12:30 am.

b.    The 30-minute observation periods are referred to as observation sessions.

c.    Generally, when a robotic observation period is designated for a given lab, a student will be required to complete one observation session pending circumstances beyond the student’s control (e.g., weather, mechanical problems with the observatory, Internet failure, etc.)

3.    Students not participating in a robotic observation session assigned for a given lab will have 10 points deducted from their lab score. The exception to this policy is if conditions beyond a student’s control prevent that student from participating in a session during a robotic observation period.


All students are expected to know and understand the following procedures for completing a robotic observation session:

1.    You will request a 30-minute time slot to conduct your observations by sending your request via email to the following address:

a.    The subject heading of your email should be in the following format:

Your Astro 14 ID #, Your Name, “B&W”, Dunn

                                                        “Color”          (see step 8)

b.    In the body of your email, list three choices of time/day in order of preference that you would like to conduct a robotic observation session. [Remember that times start on the half-hour from 9:00 pm to 12:30 am on any given night.]

c.    In the body of your email also list the object or objects you wish to observe during your robotic observation session.

d.    Robotic observation sessions are assigned on a first-come-first-serve basis.

2.    Periodically check the Robotic Schedule for your scheduled robotic observation session.

a.    The web address for the Robotic Schedule is as follows:

b.    Since the schedule only updates every day or so, do not wait to the last minute to send your email request for a robotic observation session.

3.    Just before the start time of your scheduled robotic observation session be sure you are at a computer with internet access and you have a telephone handy. Using your web browser[1], go to the following site:


b.    You will be asked for a user name and a password. Do not do anything at this point and go on to the next step.

4.    At the start time, call the NCC Robotic Observatory and a technician will guide you through the steps for acquiring your images.


5.    You may use any of the following telephone numbers:


a.    530-274-5365, Direct Dial


b.    916-624-3333, and then listen for the directions to dial extension 5365.


c.    530-274-5300, and then listen for the directions to dial extension 5365.


d.     800-242-4004, and then listen for the directions to dial extension 5365. This 800-number only works in Northern California.

e.    If you are dialing from outside the area codes and do not wish to incur the telephone costs, call one of the numbers and ask the technician to switch to chat mode via a computer link. The technician will instruct you on how to do this.


6.    The technician will then guide you through the process of taking an image with the robotic telescope. Be sure to ask questions if you are not clear as to what is being asked of you.


7.    If your session is cancelled due to weather, equipment issues etc. YOU must re-schedule the observing session as described above in step 1.


8.    NOTE: There will be two separate sessions required: one in which you’ll take 3 sets of B&W images and one in which you’ll take one color image….

[1] It might be good to have a second, different type of browser available in case your favorite browser does not work with the Robotic Telescope interface (though you should have a single browser logged in at any one time).