This thesis describes the construction, commissioning and use of a Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) detector system on the Automated Patrol Telescope--a converted Baker-Nunn satellite tracking camera donated to the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales. The work is divided into three distinct areas, entitled "Hardware", "Software" and "Observations". "Hardware" covers the construction, operation and measurement of the electronic performance of the CCD camera and the CCD/telescope combination thus formed. The evolution of the system to a working configuration producing images of scientific quality is presented. "Software" describes two distinct applications and software libraries that were developed for IBM-compatible PC computers running the MS-DOS operating system. One of these is IMLIB, a generic image processing package that implements the low-level details of accessing and viewing FITS-format two-dimensional images, which is the standard format for transferring astronomical images between institutions. The other is the APT CONSOLE, which provides the user-interface for operating and controlling the APT sub-systems, from source selection and tracking to image acquisition, and provides the foundations for operation of the APT in an unattended, automated mode. "Observations" covers the observation programme and research conducted with the ATP during testing. The optical and photometric performance of the telescope is measured using the Harvard E-region photometric standard star fields. Research into algorithms and methods for use in transient object detection, particularly in searches for supernovae, novae and/or asteroids is described using asteroids as "test novae". A supernova search atlas containing images of nearby galaxies for use as comparison standards was begun. Mosaic images of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) in B, V and Kron-Cousins R, I bands, covering twenty -five square degrees with eight arc-second resolution, demonstrate the power of the large field of view of the APT. A program and preliminary results for detection and mapping of short -period variable stars over the entire SMC is also described.
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- Physics: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Engineering: Electronics and Electrical