Welcome to the ARO!

The Abbey Ridge Observatory is a robotic astronomical observatory located in Stillwater Lake, NS, Canada. It is owned by Dave Lane.


It is one of only three observatories in the world, along with the Burke-Gaffney Observatory and the Mini Robotic Observatory, that can be controlled from Twitter and Facebook in a fully-automatic way!


At this site, you will find information about the observatory, its work and how to use it.


Abbey Ridge Observatory (ARO), built in 2003, is named for the granite ridge that rises up above Elbow Lake and along Abbey Road in Stillwater Lake, NS. It sits on bedrock on the edge of this ridge giving spectacular views from the south through to northwest. The site is quite dark, considering that it is only about 23 kilometres to the west of Halifax (population ~400,000).

Equipment Summary

The observatory is built around a fiberglass 10-foot diameter Home-Dome. Inside is a Celestron C14 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope mounted on a Losmandy Titan german equatorial mount controlled by a SiTech controller. Its imaging camera is an SBIG ST8XME CCD camera with dual Optec IFW filter wheels (9 effective filters), Optec NextGen telecompressor, and an Optic TCF electric focuser. We also use an AAG CloudWatcher to monitor the sky conditions. There are more details here.

2021 News

June 22 - GRB 210619B
Observation of the optical afterglow of gamma-ray burst GRB 210619B from ARO. Long-duration GRB 210619B was detected by the Swift Burst Alert Telescope at 23:59:25 UT on June 19, 2021. The peak count rate was ~100,000 counts/sec (15-350 keV); for comparison: the peak count rate of the recent GRB 210610B was ~11,000 counts/sec (15-350 keV). Redshift of 1.937 was reported in the GCN circular #30272 https://gcn.gsfc.nasa.gov/gcn3/30272.gcn3 with information: "GRB 210619B will likely be among the most energetic GRBs" and "the initial prompt emission spike is extremely luminous, and we expect the afterglow to be among the most luminous prompt flashes ever detected".
On June 20, the weather was cloudy for shooting at ARO, but after a day, on June 21 (on the summer solstice, on the shortest night of the year), the sky was clear. Eight images were obtained with a total exposure of 100 minutes with the Rc filter; an optical afterglow with a magnitude of about 20 is clearly visible on the stacked image.
Photometric measurement was published in the circular #30305 of the Gamma-ray Coordinates Network: https://gcn.gsfc.nasa.gov/gcn3/30305.gcn3
(contributed by ARO/BGO observer Filipp Romanov)
June 12 - GRB 210610B
Observations of optical afterglow of gamma-ray burst GRB 210610B were made on the BGO and ARO telescopes on June 11, 2021.
This long GRB was detected by the Swift Burst Alert Telescope on 19:51:27 UT on June 10, 2021 (redshift value z=1.1345 has been published later). At 02:01:17, shooting of ARO began, and at 02:05:45 imaging at the BGO began. As a result, 6 photographs were obtained with different filters, which clearly showed an optical afterglow with a magnitude of about 17.5 magnitudes. Photometric measurements were published in circular #30228 of the Gamma-ray Coordinates Network:
Below is a stacked image with a total exposure of 67 minutes.
(contributed by ARO/BGO observer Filipp Romanov)
June 2
A new Observatory Statistics page has been added that provides tables and charts of various statistics by month, year, or all time, extracted from the observatory's databases.
May 5
ARO Observer, Filipp Romanov, reports the following observations which aided in the discovery of a new near-earth minor planet!
Good news: the first Minor Planet Electronic Circular about the discovery of a Near-Earth Object with observations from ARO was published.
On May 2, 2021, I made astrometric measurements from ARO photographs of an asteroid A10WSDY (posted on the NEO Confirmation Page). Despite the slight defocusing and haze in the sky during shooting, I selected two images with better visibility of the object, and sent the measurements to the MPC. As a result, this was published minorplanetcenter.net/mpec/K21/K21J16.html in the MPEC 2021-J16 with the assignment of the asteroid designation 2021 HC3.
The asteroid has a size of 95-300 meters and on May 4, 2021, on 18:05 UT, it will approach the Earth at 18.5 lunar distances. At perihelion, the asteroid is closer to the Sun than the orbit of Mercury; at aphelion, it is farther than the orbit of Mars.
By the way, on May 3, the first MPEC about comet observations - with my astrometric measurements (of comet 29P) from ARO - was published minorplanetcenter.net/mpec/K21/K21J28.html
With best regards, Filipp Romanov

March 5

Abbey Ridge Observatory took this movie of asteroid (99942) Apophis on the night of March 5 as it whizzed past Earth. It was requested using Twitter by Russian observer Filipp Romanov. It was about 16.9 million km distant. The exposures were 20 seconds over about 30 minutes. The asteroid is the moving star near the centre of the movie. Apophis' claim to fame is that it will make a close approach to Earth on April 13, 2029, when it comes to within a distance of around 31,600 kilometres.



February 21 - On a lark, I requested an image of Uranus to try to see some of its moons - here are 4 of them!


January 23 - We get snow occasionally at ARO and adjacent MRO!

January and February

Some minor repairs and upgrades were done. The servo controller was replaced with a SiTech Servo II along with new Losmandy motors. The USB hubs were also replaced due to some reliability issues and the telescope power supply was replaced.

The robotic software has been updated to match the other related observatories - MRO and BGO.


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