Date of Award

Spring 4-16-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Russel White

Abstract

This document presents a study of astronomical observing conditions of Hard Labor Creek Observatory. Analysis of factors such as sky brightness, astonomical seeing, and patterns in the level of cloudiness at the site are presented. Characteristics of the observatory's Apogee Alta U230 camera are also measured and calculated. These characteristics include loss of linearity in the CCD's response to light, read noise, gain, dark current, and stability in the camera's bias levels. The camera is also used in conjunction with the 20-inch RC Optics telescope to determine the system's pixel scale and a set of limiting magnitudes for the Johnson-Cousins photometric filters that are used with the camera. Observations of a transit of known transiting exoplanet Qatar-2 b as well as observations of the open cluster Messier 29 are also performed to demonstrate the ability of the equipment to perform precise photometric observations.

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