Located in the island of Malta, Flarestar Observatory is an privately-owned astronomical station that carries the IAU/MPC Observatory Code: 171.
The core mission of this semi-robotic observatory is to derive scientific data for the astronomical community. Observations and analysis are reported to professional researchers through the submission of astronomical observations or papers for publication in scientific journals. Flarestar Observatory is engaged in research programs aimed to investigate a range of celestial objects, ranging from nearby objects such as asteroids to variable stars and exoplanets.
Flarestar is operated and managed by Stephen M. Brincat, member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) [observer code: BSM] and the Astronomical Society of Malta (ASM) for which has held the post of Vice President 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 national and international level. During the 106th Spring Meeting of the AAVSO, the AAVSO Observer's Award was received in recognition to over 50K variable star observations transmitted to the AAVSO International Database. Observations are also routinely sent for further analysis to VSNET and to the Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA) where the latter has designated Flarestar Observatory as CBA Malta.
Flarestar is also engaged in the search for new variable stars where eight previously unknown variable stars were discovered.
The first variable star was discovered on December 6, 2015. Once variability is confirmed, additional data is acquired on subsequent nights to divulge the nature of their variability. Variability is usually exhibited either by extrinsic causes such as eclipses by companion stars or by intrinsic processes that push stars to swell and shrink periodically resulting in a pulsating behaviour.
Located in the island of Malta, Flarestar Observatory operates under a moderate to high light polluted sky (<19.44 mag/arcsec^2). Despite this limitation, scientific work could still be conducted on certain targets of interest. - (Image courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Centre).
The main instrument at Flarestar is a Meade 0.25-m aperture Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope (SCT). The telescope's observation time is usually dedicated to projects that involve photometric campaigns for monitoring or updating variable stars and deriving asteroid rotation periods. Newly-discovered and updated asteroid rotational period data are transmitted to the Collaborative Asteroid Lightcurve Link (CALL) where the results are subsequently submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.
The main CCD camera at Flarestar is a Moravian G2-1600 scientific grade CCD camera. The G2-1600 is 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. Data acquired is either submitted to recognized institutions or archived until it is published through a scientific journal.
Observational Data in a nutshell (as at 2019 July 25)
- Paper [Publ. Astron. Soc. Japan]: The rise and fall of the King: The correlation between FO Aquarii's Low States and the White Dwarf Spindown 
- Paper [Minor Planet Bulletin]: Rotation period determination for 3157 Novikov and 7485 Changchun 
- Discovery [International Variable Star Index]: Discovery of the variability of the Carbon Star - GSC 03333-00416 
- Discovery [International Variable Star Index] Discovery of a New Variable Star - UCAC4 690-029948 
- Paper [Minor Planet Bulletin]: Photometric Observations of Main-belt Asteroids 232 Russia, 1117 Reginita, and (11200) 1999 CV121 
- Paper [Publ. Astron. Soc. Japan]: Discovery of Standstills in the SU UMa Dwarf nova NY Serpentis 
- Paper [European Journal of Variable Stars]: A New Binary Star System of EA Type in Perseus: UCAC4 735-019611 
- Paper [Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society]: PDS 110 observing campaign - photometric and spectroscopic reveal eclipses are aperiodic? 
- Paper [Minor Planet Bulletin]: Photometric Observations of main-belt asteroids 917 Lyka, 5706 Hevelius, (6638) 1989CA and 8073 Johnharmon 
- Paper [Minor Planet Bulletin]: Spin Axis and Shape Model for 1117 Reginita 
- ATel [Astronomer's Telegram] : The disappearance and reappearance of optical emission lines and the drop in a Swift/XRT count rate during the recent rebrightening of TCP J21040470+4631129
- Paper [Minor Planet Bulletin]: Lightcurve analysis of five main-belt asteroids: 3446 Combes, (9410) 1995 BJ1, (17780) 1998 FY13, (24491) 2000 YT 123, and 28341 Bingaman
- Paper [Minor Planet Bulletin]: Lightcurve analysis and rotation period of 6372 Walker
- Paper [Minor Planet Bulletin]: Collaborative asteroid photometry for 3653 Klimshin , 4748 Tokiwagozen and 9951 Tyrannosaurus
Small subset of other objects observed recently: TCP J21040470+4631129; Gaia19bsy; Gaia19bpg; Asteroid 48540 (1993 TW8)
Latest Observational Campaigns
This section concerns the latest research activities. Such activities usually involve the acquisition of photometric and astrometric observations that have been gathered with the intention to extract scientifically useful data. Observational targets can range from nearby objects such as asteroids to more distant objects such as variable stars. Click Here to access the latest observational material.
Scientific Publications by Flarestar Observatory
The external link below refers to scientific publications produced by Flarestar Observatory. Scientific papers as well as ATel's and the Minor Planet Center Electronic Circulars (MPEC) are hosted on the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System server. Click on the ads NASA tab below to access Flarestar's publications.
Sample imagery from the MPC-171 Repository
Targets of opportunity and objects of interest are occasionally imaged observed. These objects are targeted because they are either technically challenging to image or offer an opportunity to produce aesthetically pleasing pictures. Transitory events such as supernovae, comets and transits are incorporated in this section that shows images of transitory nature through the observatory's Flickr account.
Flarestar's Light Pollution Survey
A light pollution survey was carried out from the observatory's site at San Gwann, Malta. Results show that artificial light is a concern as light pollution is quite intense at low elevations over the eastern horizon. Despite this setback, the potential to carry out scientific observations from this site was never ruled out as the sky could reach +19.44 mag/arcsec^2 during the best nights. Survey results have been depicted through a light pollution map... Click Here to know more.
To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit. – Stephen Hawking