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, amateur astronomers, and faculty colleagues how to use them.

Mees Observatory image

Documents and links useful to Mees observers

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, and click here for the latest dark and bias frames (75 MB).
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. The Mees Observatory Wiki, where one will find the online logbooks and most of the documentation for telescope and instruments. If you'd like to join, ask Dan.
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. Current conditions at Mees, from the onsite weather station as posted continuously to Weather Underground.
CCD imaging lesson 5: LRGB composition with Photoshop CC, and other simple uses of Photoshop for turning LRGB composites into appealing works of art. ClearDarkSky astronomical weather forecast for Mees, courtesy of Attilla Danko, Allan Rayhill, and the CMC.

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

M 101 M 51 M 109 NGC 5985/
5982
NGC 7331 M 1 M 27 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 Wall Calendar 2018

For every day of the year our calendar lists the four most important observing facts you need, besides the weather: sidereal time at midnight, times of sunset and sunrise, and lunar phase. Also has some of our better pictures.

Mees Observatory Summer 2017 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
The Deer Lick galaxy group: true-color LRGB 15.4 arcmin x 8.7 arcmin image, 2.5 h total exposure time, taken 26 September 2017.

The five brightest galaxies in the image are, from left to right, NGC 7340, NGC 7337, NGC 7336, NGC 7335, and NGC 7331.

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.

C.E.K. Mees Observatory --- Department of Physics & Astronomy --- University of Rochester --- Rochester, NY 14627-0171