Boyden Observatory home to robotic telescope

The dome of the telescope. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The Boyden Observatory houses an innovative telescope, called BOOTES 6, which in the coming weeks will observe activity in the Bloemfontein sky. The connection of the automatic telescope is set to be completed by next month.

The BOOTES6 telescope – it is an extremely fast 60 cm telescope with incredible slew rate of about 60 degrees in 1 second. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Speaking to Bloemfontein Courant, a Physics professor at the University of the Free State (UFS), Pieter Meintjies, said BOOTES 6 is an optical telescope that forms part of an international network, which includes telescopes located in China, Argentina, and New Zealand.

“It is important for the research programme at the UFS to be a part of this collaboration between University College Dublin (UCD) and the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia in Spain,” he says.

The network of telescopes does not require human operation when doing observations. It is equipped with cameras that focus on movement and activity in the sky and then records it.

“In the evenings when the sky is clear and there is no danger of clouds or rain, the roof of the telescope will open automatically; then it will start to do observations. It will record various regions in the sky. If there are alerts of interesting objects that need to be observed the telescope will automatically go to that position in the sky and start to observe it,” explains Meintjies.

“The observatory in Bloemfontein has a very specific geographic location. With over 100 years of history, the Boyden Observatory has always played a crucial role as an international observatory.”

Open evenings will be held at the Observatory where groups can view the telescope, by prior arrangement, once the project is completed.

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