The Putman Mountain Observatory website has been completely redesigned. A major function of the old website was to dispaly real-time weather information. The new website improves on the weather information by providing more detail such as forecasts and National Weather Service Alerts for Fredericksburg, Texas.
The new website also displays astrophotography taken by the observatory telescope. Finally, the website has been divided into different web pages and sections to make information easier to find and to provide for future expansion.
For example, you may need to know about the weather quickly, and therefore, a streamlined weather page has this information without the additional information related to astronomy.
Below is an explanation of the different sections of the new website. You can click the headings for each explanation and go to that particular page.
Observatory Design, Construction and Equipment
The sections under the Observatory page provide the details about how the observatory was designed and built. Pictures of the construction and observatory equipment are also included. Hopefully this information will help others thinking about designing and building an observatory.
Very often you will hear that observatory automation is too difficult to undertake and complete. While automation is difficult, it can be achieved and special attention should be given to ensuring the automation is robust with many fail-safes. This section of the new website illustrates how a completely automated observatory can be designed and built.
The Astrophotography page displays the astrophotos taken by the observatory in a gallery format. Information concerning the celestial object as well as the technical details for each astrophoto are given.
The Weather page shows real time weather information for the Fredericksburg and Llano areas. The primary source of weather information is the observatory’s Davis Vantage Pro Weather station. Current weather data is uploaded to this website every ten minutes. The weather information has been expanded to provide forecast information and weather alerts. Weather alerts are indicated at the top of the page. If a weather alert occurs, click on the link and the most recent weather alert from the National Weather Service will be dsplayed.
In addition to weather forecasts, the new Weather page has more almanac information related to rainfall and high / low temperatures.
The Astronomical Weather page has similiar information as the Weather page, but includes additional information concerning astronomical weather, such as jetstream forecasts, a clear sky chart, sky quality measurements, live images from the all sky camera, and current information from the observatory’s boltwood cloud monitor. In addition, detailed temperature and wind information is given to assist in telescope operation.
The Current Sky page shows a “live” virtual planetarium that depicts the stars and constellations for the current time. As time passes, the virtual planetarium is updated to show the movement of the stars and constellations. Below the virtual planetarium is a “live” view from the all sky camera that shows a real-time image of the sky above the observatory. The All Sky Camera view shows the actual stars and constellations overhead. By comparing the All Sky Camera view to the virtual planetarium, you can learn the names and positions of the stars and constellations as they appear in the sky above.
Sky Quality Monitoring
The Sky Quality page explains how our night skies have been affected by man-made light pollution. The observatory operates a sky quality meter that measures how dark the sky is and provides real-time updates to this web site. You can see how dark it is at the observatory and how the rising and setting of the milky way and moon affect how dark it is at the observatory.
The Articles page contains a number of articles that explain various celestial events and provide more detailed information about certain equipment used at the observatory.
The Contact page provides a form for contacting the Lead Astronomer at the observatory with any questions or comments.
User File Area
The User File Area provides a login screen for accessing a user file area for uploading and downloading files. There is a folder that contains files for public access, but you must have a username and password at the observatory to access individual user file folders.