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UMBC 0.8m Wide-field Imaging: First Light

In 2004, we undertook an ambitious effort to upgrade the research capabilities of the UMBC Instructional/Research Telescope. This project involved the purchase of over $20,000 in new equipment: a wide-field imager, 20 narrow-band filters, and a spectrograph.

September 23, 2004 was the premiere of the wide-field STL-11000M CCD camera on the telescope. Present were Eric Perlman, the Observatory Coordinator, and Jean Dougherty, an undergraduate research assistant working on the telescope. The weather quickly degraded to thick cirrus, but it was enough to obtain first light images of M57, the Ring nebula in Lyra.

M57 with wide-field CCD

This image unfortunately does not do justice to the ring nebula due to the poor conditions that night, but the increase in field of view can easily be seen by comparing with an image obtained using our old ST-8E CCD.A much better illustration of the capabilities of this instrument is given by the image below, of the spiral galaxy NGC 6946. This image was taken using the Halpha (656 nm) filter on October 5, 2004 by Jean Dougherty (compare with this image obtained without a filter using our old ST-8E CCD).

NGC 6946 as seen with wide-field camera