TAO Astronomical CCD Camera

Monkton Stargazers has spent the last two and a half years designing, building, installing infrastructure and configuring the new robotic observatory, known as TAO (Tigra Automatic Observatory). 

Just as everything was starting to work, we've had a major setback. The astronomical CCD camera has stopped working, and we don't have funds to replace it, which means the project has come to a halt.

Monkton Nature Reserve and Monkton Stargazers have set out to follow two closely related aims:-

1. To establish a general interest astronomy group based on a knowledge of the night sky and supported by the use of the optical telescope in the Thanet Observatory. In this respect we now attract thirty plus stargazers to our monthly and impromptu sessions

2. To create, from scratch, a fully remote observatory. Intended to operate at a high enough standard to enable us to both register and be a 'coded' observatory of the International Astronomical Union. Thus becoming a recognised scientific centre and securing our status into the future. We will (amongst many other things) participate in the University of Kent's HOYS (Hunting for Outbursting Young Stars) project - long term research into star formation - and in tracking Near Earth Object (Asteroid) orbits.

The great majority of the installation and commissioning for this has been done using equipment almost entirely provided by Tim and his company Tigra Astronomy ... but, the camera that produces the images from this system has broken down and is irreparable - it was 17 years old!

Without a replacement the project cannot continue. This will cost about £12,000 of which we can find £5,000 of our own money. So this is a request to help us raise the £7,000 (approx. US$10,000) shortfall in funding.

Why so expensive? Astronomical CCD cameras are much more than just cameras. They are very sensitive scientific instruments. In addition to counting individual photons, they must also very accurately track a moving target, reduce external noise as much as possible (by cooling themselves to -50°C and various other means) and be able to discriminate different wavelengths of light using optical filters. All of this must work by remote control and be very accurate.

This sum has been arrived at after a careful search of the market for such machines and reflects the costs involved in having a camera that is a scientific instrument which can image objects that are invisible to the naked eye.

If we can continue with this project, then we will use it to benefit the local community through scientific outreach and to further the causes of Monkton Nature Reserve. Please help us to fund our replacement imaging instrument and continue our good work bringing astronomy and science to the Isle of Thanet.

Note: funds raised will go to Thanet Countryside Trust, registered charity number 285972


  • Roy and Teresa Finch 
    • £50 
    • 33 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • £1,500 (Offline)
    • 33 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • £3,500 (Offline)
    • 33 mos
  • Judy and Dave Casey 
    • £100 
    • 33 mos
  • Barbara Byne 
    • £30 
    • 33 mos
See all


Tim Long 
Canterbury, South East England, United Kingdom
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