The 0.6-meter Ritchie-Chretien telescope on Mt. Lemmon was a gift to the universty from Mark Manner of Nashville, Tennessee. The telescope is similar to the Moore 0.6 meter, and was manufactured by RC Optical Systems in 2007, and formerly was at SPOT Observatory near Nashville, Tennessee. It was moved to Mt. Lemmon in 2014 to support precision time-series photometry of exoplanet transits and variable stars for the KELT project, and donated to the University of Louisville in December 2016.
The telescope is operated remotely and semi-autonomously on most clear nights. Its high quality Zerodur optical system yields images which are limited only by site seeing, while its massive fork mounting provides stable continuous tracking for the SBIG STX-16803 camera with its 16 mega-pixel CCD sensor. An Optec IFW-3 filter wheel system allows selection from Sloan filters, color imaging filters, and narrow band filters for hydrogen-alpha and ionized oxygen imaging of nebulae through interchangeable 6-filter wheels. The tracking system uses off-axis guiding with an Optec Sagitta pick-off prism and an SBIG ST-I guider camera that is poistioned around by an image rotator for guide star selection. An auxiliary telescope and camera provides remote wide field imaging, and bright star photometry.
Data from this telescope are among the highest photometric quality of any for ground-based exoplanet transit measurements, at times better than 1 thousandth of a magnitude RMS over a duration of hours. It is provided to KELT for validation and characteristion of their candidates, and the observatory is currently part of the NASA-TESS photometry follow-up program.
Shared Skies is a collaboration of the University of Louisville and the University of Southern Queensland, Australia, providing remote and robotic astronomical instrumentation for time-sensitive precision photometry, especially in support of KELT and TESS exoplanet search followup. The observatories are used for graduate and undergraduate student research, and for undergraduate and distance-online astronomy education in the United States and in Australia.