Here you will find information on how to communicate with the Burke-Gaffney Observatory by E-mail. You must have an observer account to interact with the observatory. Your observer account must be approved before the observatory will take images for you.

The Basics

The observatory monitors the email address:

Image of the telescope's email address, which is robot at observatory dot smu dot C A.

  • You must include the tag #listentome in the subject line, otherwise your email will be ignored (and you will not receive a reply).
  • NEW: In the body of each email, you must include the option token=xxxx. If you do not yet have a token, your first command must be #token which will send you a random token to use in all future commands. It can be changed in the future by re-sending the #token command. You should remember this token and will need to use in future communication with BGO via email.
  • The body of the email is read line-by-line to form the command. Only the first ten lines are read.
  • These command #tags are processed.
  • You can include a command on a single line or break it into more than one line. In fact, for long lines your E-mail program will probably break them into multiple lines.

You will receive a reply to your message, either

  • acknowledging what you asked it to do is done
  • providing the requested information
  • or sending you an error message

A reply to your message typically takes about 1 to 3 minutes.

You will also be emailed when your requested image has been taken (along with a low-resolution image for non-special observations) and in the morning when full resolution and raw data are available. Look for completed images here. Note: it would be a good idea to configure your email's spam service to "whitelist" the observatory's email address or check your "spam" folder if you are missing an expected reply.


Many commands are supported. New observers should use those described on the basic page:

Observatory Status

The observatory posts regularly as it is observing on its Mastodon Feed ( You can tell it is the observatory posting (instead of a human) when the tags #bgosays or #bgoreplies are used. The former is a general message to everyone. The latter means it is replying to someone's messageg. Even if you are interacting with the observatory using Facebook Messenger, it is useful to monitor one of the public feeds or the Public Messages page.