Observatories

Frank Roelke at his father’s memorial observatory at Bear Branch Nature Center in Westminster. Credit: Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times

Blaine F. Roelke Memorial Observatory

The Blaine F. Roelke Memorial Observatory (BFRMO) is home to our primary instrument, a Celestron 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope previously owned by Mr. Roelke. The telescope is mounted on a Celestron CGE Pro computerized German-Equatorial mounting, which in turn is mounted atop a Pier Tech model II motorized pier.

From left, Tony DeLuca of A.J. DeLuca Contractors, Park Operations Coordinator Dawn Harry, and Frank Roelke are pictured inside the Blaine F. Roelke Memorial Observatory at Bear Branch Nature Center in Westminster Thursday, August 20, 2015. Credit: Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times

The building features a 3-meter diameter Ash dome. Siding and painting were provided by Carroll County Parks and Recreation.

The observatory is equipped with AC electrical service as well as white and red lighting. An exterior concrete pad is available for telescopes set up by visitors. Electrical service for these is provided by exterior outlets on the observatory.

Charlotte’s Quest Nature Center

Charlotte’s Quest Nature Center in Manchester Maryland is a major player in the development of astronomical opportunities in Maryland. The Charlotte’s Quest (Pine) Observatory is part of the network of sites associated with the Westminster Astronomical Society. www.westminsterastro.org

Our location at 3400 Wilhelm Lane, Manchester Maryland, 21102 is close to the center of a rural small town. It is surrounded by woods which provide protection from the minimal light pollution intrinsic to northern Maryland.

At this time the site includes a 15-inch Newtonian telescope. The 15 inch Newtonian has a safe solar filter for use when needed for observation of the sun. There are, in addition, several smaller telescopes on the site. The equipment is contained in a small building with a concrete patio onto which telescopes can, easily, be moved for use. The equipment and location are available for use for public star parties, group activities and special events such as eclipse observation.  Activities include school or college field trips, observation opportunities to support school science – astronomy courses, mentored sessions directed to the fulfillment of Astronomical League awards and strictly personal observation sessions.  There are a number of real research projects needing public – amateur involvement.

The site also includes a simple analemma. The design of an analemma is both ancient and modern in that it illustrates time – date keeping and computations of celestial mechanics.

These activities are the type that impress college entrance and scholarship committees.

These projects involve work with such activities as:
— The Astronomical League based Observing Programs including:
Constellation Hunter, Explore the Moon and Analemma
— The SETI@Home project (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
— The Planet Hunters Project
— The British Astronomical Association (Moon)
— Meteor counting includes providing logs to the The American Meteor Society.
— The Uneven Double Stars Project
— Galaxy Classification
— The Help Discover Exoplanets project

For detailed information and schedule Email Bob Clark at RLClark21157@Gmail.com.

Current Observing Conditions at BFRMO