Here you will find information on how to communicate with the Burke-Gaffney Observatory using Facebook Messenger. 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 Facebook interface can be a bit buggy. This is because Facebook is not allowing us to send you any messages more than 24 hours after your last message to us. That means you will often not see messages related to your observations until you send BGO a new message. The work around to is monitor the observatory's Public Messages or its Twitter feed.

The Basics

The observatory monitors the message "inbox" of its Facebook Page. Initiate a conversation using the "Send Message" button on the page.

Each message must include a supported command #tag. If you don't include a #hashtag, you will not receive a reply. 

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 will usually be received within a few seconds.

You will also be messaged 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.


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 Twitter Feed (@smubgobs). 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 tweet to everyone. The latter means it is replying to someone's tweet. Even if you are interacting with the observatory using Facebook Messenger, it is useful to monitor the Twitter feed or the Public Messages page.

Go to top