Here you will find information on how to communicate with the Burke-Gaffney Observatory using Mastodon.

The Mastodon social network is open-source and free of corporate control and without advertising. This platform operates in ways similar to Twitter and similar to E-Mail - users can "toot" or post status updates, images, send private messages to users, and more. Additionally, Mastodon acts like E-Mail as users can be on different Mastodon servers (or "instances") and still interact with each other, like how Yahoo and Gmail users can interact. Users can create an account on any server on Mastodon to interact with BGO, except the server "" as it is reserved only for robotic observatories and their humans, do not try to create an account on and instead choose another.

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 BGO "toots" (posts a public status message on Mastodon) regularly as it is observing from the Mastodon handle You need to "follow" the observatory's account to see its public messages. Public messages also visible here.

You can tell it is the observatory speaking (instead of a human) when the tags #bgosays or #bgoreplies are used. The former (#bgosays) is a general message to everyone. The latter (#bgoreplies) means it is replying to an observer's message.

You can communicate using either public or private (direct) messages. In Mastodon (unlike Twitter) public vs. private (direct) messages are not separate things. You choose the visibility of a message when you send it - if you send a private message, you will receive a private reply. Likewise if you send a public message, you will receive a public reply (and any other Mastodon user can see the whole conversation).

To get the BGO's attention, all messages directed at it must include its handle in the message and at least one supported command #tag. All messages that meet this criteria will cause the observatory to reply, 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: