Florida Institute of Technology

Ortega Telescope

Research Projects

Classical astronomy in Florida is a challenge. The best place for a telescope is somewhere high, dry, and dark, i.e., space. Here in Florida we are at sea level, surrounded by a swamp, and graced by the Orlando theme parks. However, there is still a lot that can be accomplished by this telescope. It serves as a vaulable training aid for students going on to use larger telescopes around the world. We conduct research that uses differential imaging to determine how objects vary their brightness over time. This can include studies of variable stars, occulations by Kuiper Belt Objects, and transiting exoplanets. Despite the challenges of the atmosphere here for high spatial resolution images, we conduct 'lucky imaging' using high speed cameras. These cameras can also be used in support of KSC and CCAFS launches by providing vehicle ascent tracking. The modest size of the telescope also means that it is quite nimble. This gives us the ability to track fast moving objects like satelites in low earth orbit. 

Florida Tech is also the founding institute for the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA). This consortium remotely operates one-meter class telescopes at world-renowned ground-based observatories, including a 0.9-m telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory outside Tucson, Arizona, a 0.6-m telescope at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, and a 1.0-m telescope at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos, on the Canary Islands.