AAVSO/BAA Day 1: Remote Observing

So, if you’re like, you may not own a telescope (story later, because I know you’ll ask). Like me, you may love looking through telescopes, taking images through telescopes, and just being able to intellectually get your hands dirty doing observational astronomy. If you are like me, you just can’t quite afford the scope you want.

My personal way of handling this empty space in my life that a telescope could fit into is to find skilled amateurs to take data for me and to thief (or at least legally download) data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. When I’m lucky, I get to look through other peoples scopes.

There are other options though, and a very humorous presenter, Martin Nicholson,  is giving a great presentation on his use of Global Rent a Scope. It costs roughly $20 per imaging hour (less is you build a team and buy time and work together). They have 6 Telescopes in New Mexico U.S.A., 1 in Isreal, and 3 in Australia. Scope time is given on a first come first served basis (and you can book in advance or get time on the fly), and for people awake on a British schedule, there is pretty much always at least 1 scope available.

Martin has no financial stake in the company, and is presenting strictly as a happy customer.

Pros: Can observe all night during the day by choosing a telescope halfway around the globe, and you don’t have to worry about maintenance, you don’t freeze in the control room, and you can use better optics then you can probably buy without annoying your significant other.

Cons: The telescope you prefer to use may not be available when you want it (but you can book ahead to increase the odds). You also don’t have the romantic thrill of standing in the cold slewing across the sky.

I’m going to see if I can get trial to use with my class next week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Global Rent-a-Scope isn’t the only game on the internet. It’s just the only one being talked about. Anyone have experience with other systems?

25 Comments

  1. Doc Kinne
    Apr 11, 2008

    Most of my remote telescope experience has come from GRAS as well. Arnie runs a good organization and is very friendly. Other AAVSO-ers who are active with GRAS include Kate Hutton and Bill Dillon. In fact, I think it was Bill who used the GRAS telescopes world-wide to support Paula in her Hubble CV campaign very early this year.

    The other remote telescope I have experience with is the Bradford Remote Telescope. The person at the meeting you can ask about that is Gary Poyner who has done a lot of work with it, and originally helped me get up to speed on it.

  2. Paolo Amoroso
    Apr 11, 2008

    The Bradford Robotic Telescope became the first web-accessible telescope in 1993, and anybody on the planet can still use it for free (they do gladly accept donations):

    http://www.telescope.org

    My pictures taken with BRT:

    http://www.pbase.com/amoroso/brt

  3. Colin J
    Apr 11, 2008

    For a very quick and easy observing experience, I’ve used Slooh.com with my high school students. It’s inexpensive, and easy to use and it gives students some real images to deal with. Not much in the way of science data, but great for introducing and touring the objects in the sky.

  4. Christine P.
    Apr 14, 2008

    The U.S. has the MicroObservatory system of remote telescopes for use by schoolkids and classes:
    http://mo-www.cfa.harvard.edu/MicroObservatory/

  5. Don Wells
    Apr 16, 2008

    Hi, Pamela.

    You might want to look at Tzec Maun (http://www.tzecmaun2.org/?q=node/170). They provide free telescope time from New Mexico and Australia to students and faculty. Ron Wodaski is the guy to contact, and his email is: ron@tzecmaun.org.

    Take care,

    Don Wells

  6. Pete Poulos
    May 14, 2008

    G’day Pamela, folks. 🙂

    Thanks for your kind words mates. Hope you dont me dropping in here.

    The GRAS network is a science instrument for most parts, but more and more astroimagers are also jumping aboard these days.

    If you would like a free 1 hr on the entry level GRAS telescope (G13) your more than welcome:

    http://gis.global-rent-a-scope.com/Register/register.aspx

    Love your work Pamela..

    Cheers..Pete

    Pete
    Gras Affiliate G12
    Melbourne Aust

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