CBA Belgium Observatory is a privately owned astronomical observatory, located in Landen, Belgium, and operated by Tonny Vanmunster. Its mission is to make high-accuracy photometric CCD studies, primarily of variable stars.
The observatory is the Belgian node of the Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA), a worldwide pro-am network of professional and amateur astronomers to study Cataclysmic Variables. Next to our CBA activities, we actively participate in cataclysmic variable star observing campaigns of other organisations (a/o the Japanese VSNET and the US AAVSO).
CBA Belgium Observatory saw first light in 1996, initially hosting a 0.25-m f/6.3 telescope in a roll-off roof structure building, operating semi-automatically. In 1999, the telescope was replaced by a 0.35-m f/6.3 telescope. A second similar telescope was added in 2004.
In 2014, the observatory got completely rebuilt. It now has a 3-m Scopedome dome, a Meade 16” (0.40-m) f/10 ACF telescope on a Software Bisque Paramount ME II mount, using a motorized Moonlite CSL focuser. The CCD camera is a SBIG STT-3200ME. Weather conditions are monitored with an AAG CloudWatcher system.
CBA Belgium Observatory
In 2014, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) decided to name minor planet (340071) Tonnyvanmunster. The announcement text was:
(340071) Tonnyvanmunster = 2005 VF82
Discovered 2005 Nov. 9 by P. De Cat at Uccle Observatory, Belgium. Tonny Vanmunster (b. 1961) is a Belgian amateur astronomer, active in the Pro-Am collaborative research on photometric studies of cataclysmic variables, (co-)author of many papers on variable stars and author of Peranso, a widely used period-search software. Name suggested by P. Van Cauteren and P. Lampens.
While I have been an active amateur astronomer since the early 1970’s, I built my first permanent roll-off roof observatory back in 1996. I used it intensively to study cataclysmic variables and expolanet transits, using a/o two 35-cm telescopes. Most of the equipment in the observatory was fully automated, except for the roof structure, which required human interaction to open and close the observatory. This made it impossible to operate the telescopes while being away from home.
In 2013, I started to develop plans to build a fully robotic obseratory that would be able to operate all night long, without any human intervention. My design requirements were rather extensive: the observatory should be able to start operating autonomously on a clear night: open the shutter, cool the CCD camera, heat the dew removers, precisely slew the telescope to a target object, autofocus the star, acquire a series of images, then move to the next target and so on, till morning twilight appears. It then has to turn off all equipment, moving the telescope back to its home position, closing the dome shutter, etc. In addition, the observatory should have the intelligence to detect clouds, in which case it has to switch to ‘emergency’ mode closing the dome shutter, with the ability to resume observations if skies become clear again after a while.
I started building the obseravtory in my backyard in May 2014. I opted for a 3-m Scopedome dome, equipped with motors to rotate the observatory dome and to operate the shutter. The observatory saw first light in Oct 2014, initially using a 0.35-m f/6.3 telescope, which was upgraded to a Meade 16” (0.40-m) f/10 ACF telescope in Jan 2017. The facility operates fully automated on a every single clear night, irrespective whether I’m at home or working abroad. All equipment is controlled through a software program ObsAS (Observatory Automation Software), that I wrote myself. Waking up in the morning with a fresh new series of CCD images obtained autonomously over the course of the past night remains an awesome experience!
I'm the author of the Peranso software. It offers a complete set of powerful light curve and period analysis functions to work with large, multi-night astronomical data sets, collected by a variety of observers.
It is equally performant for the individual observer, who is interested in analysing his observations of one or more nights.
a node of the Center for Backyard Astrophysics
Substantial attention has been given to ease-of-use and data accuracy, making Peranso the most productive period or time series analysis software on the market. Peranso lets you take control of your data analysis. Forget intimidating manuals and complex commands - powerful light curve and period analysis capabilities are now within your reach.
Copyright © 2018 - Tonny Vanmunster. All rights reserved
Coming soon: our brand new CBA Extremadura Observatory located in the southwest of Spain in a superb location with 250 to 270 clear nights per year