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?