Here you will find information on how to communicate with the Burke-Gaffney Observatory by Cell phone text messaging. 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 SMS Text Messaging interface is restricted to Canadian phone numbers. There is a cost for every text we send, so we choose to restrict this access. Use one of the other communication methods. If you ignore this rule, your account will be deleted without any notice to you.

The Basics

The observatory monitors its text messaging phone number. Initiate a conversation by sending a "text" from your Cell phone to 902-966-4729.

Each message must include a supported command #tag. If you don't include a #hashtag, you will not receive a reply. A reply will usually be received within a few seconds or perhaps as long as a few minutes if the observatory is busy or if our text messaging gateway is backed up.

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

You will also be messaged when your requested image has been taken and in the morning when full resolution and raw data become 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 by Text Messaging, it is useful to monitor the Twitter feed or the Public Messages page.

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