We currently use two computers for the bulk of our work in the UMBC Observatory. The first is the Control Computer (CC). The second is the Data Computer (DC). The CC runs Windows 7 and the DC runs Windows 10.


Control Computer

The CC has all of the drivers and necessary serial hardware components for delivering motor commands and receiving encoder signals from the Observatory.

Read more about the motors we use on this page.


This software is the interface telescope operators use to issue nearly all telescope commands. We control the telescope position, focus, and mirror doors from this interface.

ASCOM Dome Control

This software is the interface telescope operators use to issue nearly all commands to the Observatory Dome. We control the position of the dome and the dome shutters from here.

The Sky 6

This software is a fancy star chart. It shows us the accurate positions of celestial objects in real-time, but also allows us to connect to DFM TCS. In this way, we can issue motor commands through The Sky 6 to control what object the telescope is looking at.


Data Computer

The DC has all of the software required to collect imagery from the Observatory. It’s also the newer computer of the two, so we choose to run other pieces of software on this computer that helps us identify astronomical targets. The current OS of the DC is Windows 10.


This software is an easy-to-use and powerful astronomy camera capture tool. It can be used with dedicated astronomy cameras, webcams and USB frame grabbers.


This software is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.


This software allows us to implement auto-guiding when observing a star of a magnitude of 5 or 6. Read more about auto-guiding on this page.


This software is used to utilize the cameras installed in the dome to visually check that the telescope is performing as expected and to lessen back-and-forth trips between the dome and the control room.


Our documentation, photos, and various notes are all saved in a collaborative, shared drive powered by Google.