Mountain Sky Observatory        (MSO)

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The major objective of this project is to enable unprecedented science by capturing time sensitive events and census transient objects.  A current focus is on discovering supernovae and extrasolar planets.

This robotic equipment is operated remotely from anywhere in the world and currently is involved in deep field imaging, exoplanet discovery, and supernova research.  The majority of conventional observatories are designed to perform a single task, night after night. Our paradigm is unique in that a robotic scheduler automatically moves among tasks in its list, prioritizing on current sky conditions and optimizing imaging opportunities unique to each task.
Mountain Sky Observatory is an unconventional non-profit collaboration between neighbors Glenn Gaunt, Gene Augusto, and Sid Clements. Efforts began in Spring of 2012 to construct an astronomical observatory in the clear dark skies of Southwestern Colorado. Because of its remote location, a main design consideration is the ability to be remotely controlled from any location in the world.
Topics of Study
Supernovae Detection
Exoplanet Research
Robotic Control
Deep Field Imaging

Dome Status
Construction Phase:
April, 2012 - August 2012
First Light:
April, 2013

Website Design
Glenn Gaunt
April, 2012
Last update 11-Feb-2018

This project designed by Glenn Gaunt includes a 20-inch f/8.1 Ritchey–Chrétien  telescope (RC Optical Systems), Paramount German Equatorial Mount (Software Bisque, Golden, Colorado), and STL-11000M CCD Camera (Santa Barbara Instrument Group). Curiosity and imagination combines to beget technology.

The telescope is a specialized research telescope which contains a hyperbolic primary mirror and a hyperbolic secondary mirror designed to eliminate optical errors. Since these optics comprise a two mirror system, they have no spectral dispersion nor chromatic aberration. The two surface design accounts for less light loss and increased sensitivity. Also, since no refractive optics are needed, they accommodate a larger spectral range from ultraviolet to long wave infrared. The telescope has a large field of view free of optical errors compared to a more traditional configurations. Additionally, the carbon truss configuration offers little chance of trapping microclimate heat currents which serves to improve precision performance. The truss design also makes the telescope less vulnerable to fluctuations and movement due to wind. 

The telescope is currently synchronized in time with the atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado.

In an age where many people don’t understand anything about our universe, and nobody understands everything about it, the observatory strives to be an important educational instrument. The universe is knowable. It permits secrets to be uncovered.

Finally, the observatory makes use of adaptive optics technology to remove  atmospheric  distortion  effects. Adaptive optics removes the “shimmering” of stars when looking through Earth’s atmosphere.

Observing schedules are based on ideal  conditions.  However, weather conditions are rarely ideal.  Our software scheduling program automatically works around changes in weather, visibility, or rotational-time changes. A fresh discovery might require the robotic scheduler to ‘drop everything’ to respond to a new event.  Or, atmospheric conditions and optimal viewing angles will change the order of the current task list to optimize telescope results.  With a remotely controlled observatory, all of these things are taken in to account by the nature of the robotic telescope system.   This level of automation is something exciting and very new and it is in sharp contrast to the days when a dedicated astronomer stayed awake all night to manually adjust for conditions and dodge bad weather.

Click here for link to Gene Augusto’s memorial page