The C.E.K. Mees Observatory is UR's main tool for education and public outreach in observational astronomy. It consists of a computer-controlled 24-inch cassegrain telescope with a tracking dome, located on a dark mountaintop and outfitted for visible-light astronomy with research-grade CCD cameras and medium/low-resolution spectrographs. Find out more about it here.

Dan Watson
is often engaged in upgrading and maintaining the telescope and instruments, and in teaching students and amateur astronomers how to use them.

Mees Observatory image

Documents useful to Mees observers and tourguides

CCD imaging lesson 1: cameras, telescopes, sensitivity, and the basic recipes for making pretty pictures and/or scientifically-useful pictures. Current draft of the telescope startup/shutdown cookbook.
CCD imaging lesson 2: detailed recipe for autoguided RGB and LRGB images at Mees, using CCDSoft v.5. Current draft of the long-form CCD camera and autoguider startup/shutdown cookbook. See Lesson 2 at left for a simpified version.
CCD imaging lesson 3: procedures for acquisition of calibration data, and for calibration of your RGB and LRGB images, using CCDStack v.2.9 and IDL v.8.2. Summer 2016 calibration data: master dark and bias frames, 1x1 and 2x2 binning, T = -10 C and -20 C (zipped, 151 MB).
CCD imaging lesson 4: deconvolving, stretching, scaling and color-combining your RGB and LRGB images, using CCDStack v.2.9 and FITS Liberator v.3. Data on which to practice: four hours of LRGB observations of M51 on 9 June 2016, complete with flat field data (zipped, 541 MB).
CCD imaging lesson 5: LRGB composition with Photoshop CC, and other simple uses of Photoshop for turning LRGB composites into appealing works of art. Current weather, seeing and sky brigtness at Mees.

Some presentable images taken at Mees -- click for full-size version

M 101 M 51 M 109 NGC 5985/
M 1 M 27 M42 NGC 7635 NGC 7538
M 15: true-color image. Exposure times 25, 45 and 65 minutes (R, G, B). M 15: blinking images of cluster center taken 1.5 hours apart, and with color saturation increased, the better to reveal a few dozen variable stars. M 15: color-magnitude diagram with markers for 34 RR Lyr stars  (+), two SX Phe stars (+), one W Vir star (+), and a 13 Gyr isochrone (...).

Mees Observatory Summer 2016 computer desktop wallpaper

Available here in three 16x9 HD formats. Ask Dan if you'd like a different format.
3840x2160: 4k, 2160p 2880x1620: 3k, 1620p 1920x1080: 2k, 1080p
H II regions on the Cassiopeia-Cepheus border: true-color LRGB 27.4 arcmin x 15.4 arcmin image, 5 h total exposure time, taken 2 August 2016.

Artistic license: the two colorful H II regions, NGC 7635 (the Bubble Nebula) and NGC 7538, are close together on the sky, but not as close as shown; a less interesting star field has been omitted.