Flarestar Observatory is a privately owned astronomical station that carries the IAU/MPC Observatory Code: 171 and is located in San Gwann, Malta. The core mission of this robotic observatory is to acquire accurate photometric data of variable stars and minor planets (asteroids). Observations and scientific results are reported to recognized institutions where this data is made available to professional researchers.
Flarestar is also engaged in research programs aimed to investigate a range of celestial objects, including cataclysmic variable stars, microlensing events, and exoplanets. Our observations are routinely sent to the AAVSO and VSNET for further analysis. We also send our observational data to the Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA) where the latter has designated Flarestar Observatory as CBA Malta. Our observational program allows us to routinely collaborate with professional and amateur observatories around the world through photometric campaigns, to merge our data with those acquired by other observers to derive the best scientific results.
Another field that Flarestar is engaged in, is the search for new variable stars where 10 previously unknown variable stars have been discovered. The first variable star was discovered on the night of 6th December 2015, where a new 16th magnitude eclipsing variable star was identified in the constellation of Perseus.
Flarestar Observatory is an active collaborator with the following entities:
Flarestar is operated and managed by Stephen M. Brincat, member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) [observer code: BSM], and former Vice President of the Astronomical Society of Malta (ASM), for which has held the post for a number of years. In 2016, the Astronomical Society of Malta Award was delivered in recognition of valuable contributions to the science of astronomy at the national and international level. During the 106th Spring Meeting of the AAVSO, the Observer's Award was received in recognition for over 50,000 variable star observations transmitted to the AAVSO International Database.
Located on the island of Malta, Flarestar Observatory saw first light in the year 2000 and operates under a moderate light-polluted sky (<19.20 mag/arcsec^2). Despite this limitation, scientific work can still be conducted routinely thanks to the good (2" to 3" arc sec) seeing conditions and clear transparency - [Image courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center].
The main instrument at Flarestar is a Meade 0.25-m aperture f/6.3 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope (SCT) that is permanently housed in a run-off roof observatory. The telescope is mounted on a Sky-Watcher EQ8 PRO German equatorial mount where all equipment is controlled remotely.
The camera employed for scientific imaging is a Moravian G2-1600 scientific grade CCD camera. The G2-1600 is 16-bit monochrome imager that is capable to gather accurate photometric data. All images obtained are calibrated and analysed through various software packages to extract the best possible data. Our images are predominantly autoguided through a piggybacked 80 mm refracting telescope, that allows us to obtain clean images to acquire high quality photometry. All of our data is usually reported to recognized institutions, just a few hours after it has been gathered through the telescope, or are archived for analysis and subsequent submission to peer-reviewed scientific journals.
With reference to conferences and workshops, I have been invited to a number of astronomical conferences and workshops to present my work and research projects. Hereunder please find a representative list of events I participated in, either as a speaker or as a regular attendee.
- BAA AAVSO Variable Star Meeting, Warwick University, UK. July 2018. Regular attendee.
- The Astronomical Society of Malta, Exoplanet Observation, 27 Feb 2020 – Invited speaker.
- 11th OPTICON Gaia Science Alerts Workshop, 18-22 January 2021 - Invited speaker.
Observational Data in a nutshell (as at 2021 Aug. 22)
Discoveries and the latest authored and co-authored Publications
- Paper [Astronomy and Astrophysics]: Properties of slowly rotating asteroids from the Convex Inversion Thermophysical Model 
2021 October 05
Paper " Properties of slowly rotating asteroids from the Convex Inversion Thermophysical Model"
by Marciniak et al.
Here is a study where I appear as a co-author concerning the properties of slowly rotating asteroids from the Convex Inversion Thermophysical (CIT) Model. The results obtained by this study were released through a research paper lead by astronomer Dr. Marciniak published in the Journal ‘Astronomy & Astrophysics’.
Most asteroids that have rotation periods longer than 12 hours are less likely to be observed, as observers tend to pick up easier targets that take a lesser number of nights for their rotation periods to be determined. It is well known that observer bias may skew our holistic overview of the rotation rates of the known asteroid population.
To address this discrepancy, this study aimed to minimize our selection effects by targeting slow rotating asteroids with low light variations. The asteroids under study were observed through visible and infrared bandpass for which the former data was collected through ground-based observatories while for the latter, data was gathered from space observatories to optimize the modeling process.
More details can be obtained through the full version of the paper that is available from the link below:
2021 September 20
Poster Paper "Confirmation of the Exoplanet KELT-18b transit time"
Above please find a poster paper concerning the observation of Exoplanet KELT-18b from Malta to refine the predicted time of transit.
Transits occur when an exoplanet crosses over the surface of its host star as seen from Earth. As exoplanets are much smaller than the apparent size of their parent stars, the observed dip in brightness is extremely small and thus it can be quite challenging to record the event if not observed under the right conditions.
Despite the limitations present during the KELT-18b observation run, subsequent analysis of the observations showed that useful scientific data was obtained even though the full transit event as observed from Malta could not be fully recorded. This was due to the timing of the event that began shortly after sunset occurred.
Latest Observational Campaigns
This section gives a brief overview of the research activities at Flarestar. This usually involve the acquisition of photometric observations to publish or disseminate to appropriate institutions for publication. Visit the 'Latest observations' page to know more.
Flarestar's Light Pollution Survey
Scientific Publications by Flarestar Observatory
A light pollution survey that was carried out from the observatory's site shows that light pollution is considerable at low elevations over the eastern horizon. Despite this setback... Click Here to know more.
Click here to find out all about the scientific publications produced by Flarestar Observatory. Almost all of the publications are hosted on the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System server. Click Here to access Flarestar's publications or click on the ORCiD logo to access the ORCiD database.
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science." — Edwin Hubble