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 two observatories in the world, along with the Burke-Gaffney 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.

2018 News

July 2, 2018 - The documentation and installer for the current version of Abbey Ridge Auto-Pilot was updated on the website.

June 4, 2018 - Saturday was the 15th anniversary of "first image" for the observatory. The first images taken on the night of June 2, 2002 included M3, NGC 5746, and NGC 4565 and were done manually. In 2002, the telescope was a Celestron 11-inch with an SBIG ST9E CCD camera.

Last night I sent the telescope three Facebook Messenger messages from my easy chair and it happily took those images automatically while I slept ... progress! The telescope now is a Celestron 14-inch with SBIG ST8XME CCD camera.

May, 2018 - In April and May a new shutter controller was built based on the Burke-Gaffney Observatory's controller which uses Bluetooth for communications and is powered by a 12V lead acid battery. Some firmware programming changes were done to make it more reliable. 

ARO Shutter Controller

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