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iTelescope.Net is the world’s premier network of Internet connected telescopes, allowing members to take astronomical images of the night sky for the purposes of education, scientific research and astrophotography. (more)

iTelescope.Net is a self-funding, not for profit membership organisation; we exist to benefit our members and the astronomy community. Financial proceeds fund the expansion and growth of the network. iTelescope.Net is run by astronomers for astronomers.

The network is open to the public; anyone can join and become a member including students, amateurs and even professional astronomers.

With 20 telescopes, and observatories located in New Mexico, Australia and Spain, observers are able to follow the night sky around the globe 24x7.

iTelescope.Net puts professional telescopes within the reach of all, with systems ranging from single shot colour telescopes to 700mm (27”) research grade telescopes.

Astronomy Research

Having access to professional telescopes means that doing real science has never been easier – great value for schools, educators, universities, amateur and professional astronomers. (more)

Exo-planets, comets, supernova, quasars, asteroids, binary stars, minor planets, near earth objects and variable stars can all be studied. iTelescope.Net can also send your data directly to AAVSO VPhot server for real-time online photometric analysis.

iTelescope.Net allows you to respond quickly to real-time astronomical phenomena such as supernova and outbursts events, gaining a competitive edge for discoveries. With more than 240 asteroid discoveries iTelescope.Net is ranked within the top 50 observatories in the world by the Minor Planet Center.

Get involved: members have used the network to provide supportive data for go/no-go decisions on Hubble space telescope missions.

Education and Astronomy Schools

With science and numeracy at the forefront of the education revolution, iTelescope.Net provides the tools, along with research and education grants, to support the development of astronomy or science based curriculums in schools. Contact iTelescope.Net about a grant for your school or research project. (more)

Professional observatories use iTelescope.Net to supplement current research projects. The network provides alternate observatory sites in both southern and northern hemispheres and is a good way to continue research when seasonal poor weather hits your observatory.

Sky Tours Live Streams

We offer a variety of ways to view the night sky, including our entry level Sky Tours Live Streams. These weekly streams, hosted by Dr. Christian Sasse, are a great way to get started with Remote Astronomy, allowing you to see our telescopes in action and learn about the Night Sky from a professional Astronomer.

Astrophotography

Take stunning images of the night sky, galaxies, comets and nebula. Have access to the best equipment from the comfort of your computer and without the huge financial and time commitments. (more)

The network has everything from beginner telescopes with single shot colour CCDs to large format CCDs with Ha, SII and OII and LRGB filter sets. Check out the member image gallery – the results speak for themselves.

Depending on your own image processing skills, you can even land yourself a NASA APOD.

How?

All you need is a web browser and an Internet connection; iTelescope.Net takes care of the rest. Our web-based launchpad application provides the real-time status of each telescope on the network as well as a host of other information such as a day-night map, observatory all-sky cameras and weather details. (more)

From the launchpad you can login to any available telescope, and once connected, you’re in command. Watch in real time as the telescope slews, focuses and images your target.

The image files (in FITS format) are then transmitted to a high-speed server ready for your download. All image data taken is your data – iTelescope.Net doesn’t hold any intellectual property rights.

Reserve and schedule observing plans in advance, even have them run while you are away from iTelescope.Net and have the image data waiting for you ready for download.

New and Starting Out?

A number of telescopes are fitted with colour cameras; these systems have been designed for ease of use. It’s as simple as selecting an astronomical target from the menu, watching the telescope image your target, and have the resulting image sent to your email address as a jpeg attachment. (more)

The image file is also sent to our high-speed server and can be downloaded in its raw image format, for post image processing if you want more of a challenge.

Already a Pro?

iTelescope.Net offers a large range of telescopes, fields of view and image scales, and NABG and ABG CCD camera combinations. Select from a large range of filters including narrowband, LRGB and UBVRI, as well as control pointing, filter selection, focusing, exposure times, image counts, repeat loops etc. All data is offered in its raw FITS format calibrated and non-calibrated.

Support and Service

With remote astronomy observing plans can be interrupted from time to time, by clouds, wind gusts and even a rare equipment failure.

iTelescope.Net has you fully covered with our satisfaction guarantee; we will return your points if you are unsatisfied with your results. Help is just a click away. (more)

A dedicated team of professionals are working around the clock to keep the network operating. This includes local ground crews at each observatory, sophisticated monitoring systems and remote observatory administrators monitoring the quality of data coming off the network.

Our dedicated support website allows members to seek answers to frequently asked questions. Formal support can be requested by lodging a support ticket, which can be viewed, tracked and managed through to completion. Go to http://support.itelescope.net or simply email support@itelescope.net.

Our contact details are also available. You can phone or Skype us if you want to speak to a person directly; you can also contact us via Skype instant message, email and fax.

How much does this cost?

Rates vary based on your membership plan and the phase of the moon. Rates start as low as 17 to 100+ points per imaging hour, which is billed per minute of imaging time used; typically one point equals $1. Make sure you are subscribed to our newsletter for special offers. Please visit our pricing page for more information on telescope operating rates. (more)

Each telescope has its imaging hourly rate displayed in real time in the launchpad before you login. At the end of each session you are also sent a detailed usage receipt which includes the costs, weather data, preview jpeg images and your observing session log file.

Membership Plans

We have a range of plans catering for everyone from the amateur to the professional astronomer. Each plan provides unrestricted access to each telescope and includes the plan’s dollar value in points, which is credited to your account each time the membership renews. (more)

Membership plans set the usage rates for each telescope on the network, expressed in points per operating hour. The entry level plans provide maximum flexibility on our single shot colour systems, and the heavy usage plans focus more on the large research grade systems. Memberships start from $19.95 and range to $999.95 per 28 day period.

Additional points can be purchased at any time to supplement your account balance.

Hosting and Affiliates

iTelescope.Net offers a range of telescope hosting solutions to members with special projects, allowing you to host your own telescope at three of our four observatory locations. Conditions and approvals apply. Contact us for more information.(more)

Affiliate membership allows you to connect your own telescope to iTelescope.Net with reasonable rates of return. Limited availability exists and is subject to telescope network balance.

Please contact us for more information.


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Nicole's Universe

Nicole Mortillaro is an experienced and valued member of the iTelescope community.

Here she writes about her experiences with iTelescope as well as general astronomy observations. Nicole lives in a not-so-dark-sky site north of Toronto, Canada. 

 

 


Monday
Sep092013

Astronomy clubs: Invaluable resources for everyone

When I first became interested in astronomy, it was something that I owned. It was my hobby and mine alone. I would try to share it with my family, but often to no avail. They just didn’t get the same thrill out of seeing the moons of Jupiter through my binoculars as I did. And it became all too frustrating to me when I would – sometimes literally – be jumping for joy at some celestial event while they politely smiled and then went inside.

For years I kept any joy I gleaned from my hobby to myself. I had thought about joining an astronomical club, but I was far too shy (which is funny since I am extremely outgoing); I just figured everyone would know more about astronomy than I did and I was afraid of looking stupid. It didn’t matter that I’d loved astronomy since I was eight years old…I just figured I had to be some kind of astronomy academic.

How wrong I was.

A few years ago, through a chance meeting with someone at a local observatory that was in danger of closing, I did finally join an astronomical association. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) is well known for its astronomy history, turning out some incredible astronomers such as comet-hunter David Levy.

Though I initially found it somewhat intimidating, due to my own insecurities, I have since come to cherish the club. It is something that I think everyone should do.

Why? Because, first of all, you find like-minded people. As part of an astronomical club, you find people who, not only share a love of the night sky and its workings, but you also those who want to learn more about it. Don’t know what a variable star is? Don’t know what a pulsar is? Someone in the group will, and not only that, but I can bet you dollar to donuts (pardon my Canadian) that he or she will be more than happy to share their knowledge about it.

Volunteers from the RASC Toronto Centre run the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto, Canada.

There’s also the telescopes. A lot of people can’t afford a telescope. So don’t be afraid to join if you don’t have one.  You might have a pair of binoculars, or not. But don’t think that you can’t join a club just because you don’t own some fancy bit of telescopic wonder: your eyes are all it takes to admire the stars.  When you join a club, you can ask to look through someone else’s telescope. There isn’t an amateur astronomer out there who doesn’t enjoy sharing the view. And this will help you learn more about telescopes, should you want to invest in one later on.

Another advantage is that most clubs offer perks. Take the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre: our club offers telescope rental; a subscription to the astronomy magazine SkyNews, and our journal; a club-run observatory in a dark-sky location with access to a house and a 14” telescope; monthly talks, observing sessions; club talks and observing sessions at that very observatory that was in danger of closing, and much more. This is a great way to meet people and learn.

One perk my astronomy club offers, is an observing location away from the lights of the big city, Toronto, Canada.

But the other thing you can get from a club is the ability to pass on that love of astronomy to others who are interested in it. So, not only do I gain all these perks from my club, but I also volunteer and teach others about our universe.

Interested members of the public look through my telescope during the Transit of Venus in 2012.

 

I have met some incredible people over the past few years of being a member and learned so much. I started off with a Celestron 6se and two eyepieces. I now have a Celestron 8se on a CGEM mount, an AT72ED, a Lunt solar telescope, a suitcase of astronomy gear, and I am learning astrophotography. I have given public talks which has also increased my self-confidence. But most importantly, I have made some incredible friends who will be with me forever.

One might argue that joining the club has cost me a lot dollar-wise, but what I’ve gained? You can’t put a price on that.

 

ASTRONOMY CLUBS

Canada

http://www.rasc.ca/

http://www.skynews.ca/resources/astronomy-clubs/

Australia

http://asa.astronomy.org.au/

http://www.austskyandtel.com.au/ClubsandPlaces/AstronomicalGroups/tabid/640/Default.aspx

United States

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/community/organizations

United Kingdom

http://www.ras.org.uk/ 

Europe

http://eas.unige.ch/affiliates.jsp

 

Saturday
Jun082013

Stacking software: Finding what's right for you

KISS

Keep it simple, stupid.

That is sound advice when it comes to post-processing images in astrophotography. Because, god knows, post-processing is enough to drive a beginning astrophotograper insane. Or was that just me?

When I joined iTelescope I knew that, in order to get the best images, I had to stack multiple images. My first attempt was to find something free. I know that the old "you get what you pay for" adage and I was quite worried about it at first. However, there are a few stacking software packages out there are quite good.

But what I discovered is that you need to find software that works for you.

Let’s list some of the freebies:

Registax : Nebulosity : DeepSky Stacker : Keith's Image Stacker 

The costly ones:

CCD Stack : MaximDL : Pixinsight 

(I know there are others, but I'm just listing some of the more popular ones.)

Now, on top of the issue of cost versus free, there’s the Mac vs. PC issue. And if you’re a Mac owner, you lose. Most stacking software is made for PCs, unfortunately (she says as a Mac user). But there are ways around that, like running Windows inside virtualization software, like Parallels, Fusion or Virtual Box. If you can't do that, then the best bet is to use Nebulosity 

I used that and found that its simplicity worked for me. Though, admittedly, after using some other software programs, I discovered that it can be quite limiting. I tried using Keith's Image Stacker, as well, but really didn't like it. It just wasn't for me.

I did end up purchasing CCDStack, which I immediately fell in love with. 

M101 processed in CCDStack

But this isn't meant to be a review of programs.

Basically, when looking at software, the thing you need to do is look for what works for YOU. I like to keep things simple. I like CCD Stack's simplicity, but then again, so is Nebulosity. I can't have anything too technical, though I'd love to try MaximDL as I hear very good things about that software.

What about you? What software do you use?