Greetings, and welcome to the temporary webpage for the Observatory Complex at the Prescott campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
We have successfully observed two complete transits of WASP-12b this semester. See the data for January 25th, 2010 and March 3rd, 2010. WASP-12b is the exoplanet that orbits the 11th magnitude star WASP-12 (also known as J06303279+2940202 from the 2MASS catalog, but otherwise previously unnamed until its planet was discovered). The star and planet are located in Gemini, about 1000 light years from Earth. The planet completes one orbit around the star in an incredible 26 hours. Our derived value for the planet-to-star radius ratio of 0.114 is in nearly exact agreement with the value of 0.117 published in the discovery paper (Hebb, et al. 2009, ApJ, 693, 1920), using the adopted stellar parameters in that paper. We have also fixed the "impact parameter" (i.e., how far from the center of the star the transit occurs; b=0 means a perfect central transit and b=0.999... means the planet just grazes the limb of the star) to their value of b=0.36, although we get slightly better fits to our data with a value closer to b=0.6. In any case, these results make the planet considerably larger than Jupiter.
On the evening of February 11th, 2008, we made our first successful observation of an extra-solar planet transiting in front of its parent star! See our announcement for more details.
The Prescott Campus Observatory Complex consists of a 12" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, the 14" CCD Debris Telescope, and the Radio Observatory.
The 12" telescope is equipped with an SBIG XT-10XME CCD camera and a professional UBVRI filter set with which we can do research-quality brightness measurements ("photometry") of stars, as well as take real-time pictures of astronomical objects for public viewing. In addition, we have a fleet of portable telescopes that are used for "eyeball" viewing during public observing sessions.
The CCD Debris Telescsope (CDT) was given to Embry-Riddle by NASA and is optimized for tracking rapidly moving near-Earth objects such as satellites and space debris, as well as asteroids.
The Radio Observatory currently consists of one 4-meter radio dish equipped with a 1420 GHz detector (21 cm wavelength for detecting hydrogen gas), and a wire antenna to detect radio emission from Jupiter and the Sun. Two more dishes will come on line in the near future.