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S194 - Introducing Astronomy
Monday 15th May saw the first real-time, on-line astronomical observing session for OU students on the new S194 'Introducing Astronomy' level 1 short course. As part of the piCETL project, OU astronomy students are being given the opportunity, once a month, to participate in live astronomical observing sessions at the OU's George Abell Observatory. Students interact with the astronomers staffing the observatory via live webcams and First Class computer conferencing.

The first session was run by project leader Andy Norton, aided by OU postgraduate students John Tanner and Lindsey Shaw Greening operating the telescope, and OU Associate Lecturer Dave Edwards helping to field student questions on the computer conference.

Data obtained on the evening can be found here.

SN 2006X
Observations of SN 2006X (type Ia) were made in the evening of the 9th of February 2006 using a clear filter in an SBIG STL-1001. This supernova is located in M100, and has a visual magnitude of roughly 15.0 (brightening). M100 is located in the Virgo Cluster of galaxies at a distance of
56+/-6 million light years.

1st Refereed Journal Article
During November 2005, on a couple of dark, clear nights, Andy Norton and John Tanner of the Astronomy Research Group used the Alan Cooper Telescope, a 16 inch Meade LX200 Schmidt Cassegrain, at the OU's George Abell Observatory to make the first research quality photometric observations since the observatory's recent refurbishment. The targets were two 'intermediate polars' - binary star systems in which a magnetic white dwarf accretes material from a low mass stellar companion. The first target - the 14th magnitude star, V405 Aurigae - was used to verify the performance of the telescope system and allowed detection of the previously well studied 545 sec pulsation from the spinning white dwarf. The second target was the 16th magnitude intermediate polar candidate RX J0153.3+7446 in Cassiopeia. Optical pulsations at a period of 2333 sec were detected for the first time, confirming the nature of this object. A paper reporting the results, along with re-analysis of previously published X-ray observations, has been submitted to, and accepted by, the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, where it should appear in February 2006.

Ist Observing Report
White light photometry of the magnetic cataclysmic variable V405 Aurigae was performed by Andy Norton and John D. Tanner using the SBIG STl-1001.

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