4995 Santa Margarita Lake Road, Santa Margarita CA 93453
Russell M. Genet - Director. Phone (805) 438-3305  Fax (805) 438-3355  Email

Click Here for Directions to the Observatory)

SCIENCE PROGRAM   The Orion Observatory, in conjunction with Thomas Smith and the Dark Ridge Observatory, devoted its 2004 observing season to obtaining complete photometric light curves of short-period, W UMa-type eclipsing binaries.  We are searching for short-term variations in the binaryís rotational periods that could be due to angular momentum loss, the Applegate effect, the presence of third bodies, or micro-episodes of mass flow between the binary stars.  We are also examining, with Dirk Terrell, short-term changes in the shapes of the binary light curves that could result from varying starspots.  Our concentrated observations will continue, eventually allowing comparisons to be made of both period and light curve shape changes between seasons.  Our seasonal eclipse timing precision, using our combined observations, is better than 1 second (1 sigma).  This may allow us, over the course of several seasons, to detect, as suggested by Laurance Doyle, Jupiter-mass planets orbiting eclipsing binaries (Jupiter shifts our solar systemís barycenter by about 5 seconds peak-to-peak).  In other research, California Polytechnic State University student Erick Sturm (physics) is investigating the effects of focus and autoguiding on photometric precision, while Hao Nguyen and The The Kyaw (mathematics students) are studying Cepheid observations.

 EQUIPMENT & SOFTWARE   Meade 10-inch LX-200 Schmidt-Cass telescopes, SBIG ST7 CCD camera, Software Bisque CCD Soft and The Sky, and Excel VBA analysis.

 OBSERVATORY DIRECTOR   Dr. Russell Genet, an astronomer, is the author or editor of over a dozen books on astronomy, cosmic evolution, and robotics.  His pioneering development of robotic telescopes was featured in the PBS documentary, The Perfect Stargazer.  Russ was the 51st President of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

THE FAIRBORN PREDECESSOR  Click here for a pictorial story of the Orion Observatory predecessor, the Fairborn Observatory, which was founded in 1979.

Fairborn Observatory at its original home on Mt. Hopkins in Arizona.
The Fairborn is now located at Washington Camp, Arizona, near the Mexican Border.

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