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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
May062013

Year of the Comet

If there were such thing as an Astronomical Calendar, last year would have been the “Year of the Sun” following the total solar eclipse, the annular eclipse and the Transit of Venus. And this year it would be the “Year of the Comet.”

Comet C/2011 L4 (or just Comet Pan-STARRS), was discovered by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Haleakala, Hawaii, and first made an appearance in the southern hemisphere in 2012. People were treated to a spectacular show as the comet neared an estimated brightness of around +1. People in the northern hemisphere enjoyed Pan-STARRS in March 2013. Although it’s still visible, it’s not nearly as impressive as it has been.

But in 2013 we are going to get a very special treat. Coming soon to a sky near you is Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON), which most people simply call Comet ISON. Discovered in September 2012. There is some speculation that this could be the best comet in years.

Of course, we all love seeing comets, and we also know that there’s a lot more detail available to comets than what we can see with the naked eye. So what about using iTelescope to image comets? It can be done.

And if there’s anyone who knows about imaging comets, it’s iTelescope member Rolando Ligustri who lives in northeastern Italy. I asked him a few questions about his experiences and how he got into imaging comets. 

When did you start becoming interested in astronomy?

When I was young, I saw men land on the moon and fell in love with space immediately. I received my first telescope in 1973. It was a small but excellent refractor: a 76/910. With it I began to observe the sky. My first target was the Pleiades, and then Saturn. When I first saw it, I was overcome with emotion: it was a three-dimensional planet!

Then I continued to observe the sky. I only stopped when I was an officer in the Italian Navy. In 1986, I bought my first real telescope for astroimaging — to photograph Halley’s Comet! In 1995, I bought my first CCD and after that another, I imaged hundreds of objects and dozens of comets. 

When did you start becoming interested in comets?

My interest began with the observation and photographing of Halley’s Comet. It was too bad that the 1986 passage wasn’t very bright. Then, with the creation of the CAST Observatory (MPC235) [an observatory in Italy], I began to study them more and more. As of today I have photographed almost 150 comets, and thanks to remote telescopes like iTelescope, I have had several of my photographs appear as an Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD).

Which iTelescopes do you use to image?

There is no one telescope in particular that needs to be used for photographing the comets. Every set-up in the various sites around the world can go well with astrophotography — you just need to know what you want to achieve (beautiful photograph or scientific measurements) and the size of the target. In principle, the telescopes with short focal length are useful for creating beautiful images; ones with longer focal lengths can be used for searching out details inside the coma or in the first part of the tail in addition to measurements of position and light. What is important is to always pay attention to the resolution of the telescope and the movement of the comet. If you’re making measurements, 1 pixel of blur is acceptable. However, if you’re just imaging for the pure beauty, it can move 6 to 8 pixels, which you can fix in post-processing.

 Can you give advice to those looking to image comets?

As I said above, you first need to decide the field of view, both in terms of the size of the comet, or for any deep sky objects nearby. A photo of a comet must always be studied, even for how to frame it. Once you decide how to frame it and know the resolution of the instrument as well as the apparent speed of the comet, you need to determine the maximum exposure.

 

 

 

Monday
Mar252013

Cloudy Nights

Those Cloudy Nights

So you’ve joined iTelescope, and now you are ready to take images of some amazing, mind-blowing target. You log on and . . . it’s cloudy. At all three sites. 

As the past few weeks have shown us, it happens. After all, it’s spring (fall in Down Under) and clouds are just part of the changing seasons.

Is it a waste of time? No. This is perfect. This is the prime time to lay out all your targets.

You may know what image you want to take, and you know what you want it to look like, but how do astrophotographers get those stunning images we see and admire so much? How can you get similar results? One word: planning.

Let’s say you want to take an image of the Carina Nebula. First thing is, you have to know which telescope you want to use.

There are a couple of ways to figure out your field of view (FOV) so that you’re not imaging just part of a galaxy or nebula. I recently purchased SkyX ($144 USD), but I was using Stellarium — which is free — to give myself at least an idea of the area a target would fit in.

That’s the first step. Now, how to figure out how many images you need to take.

When I first tackled astrophotography, I knew almost nothing of CCD imaging. But I did know that I had to stack images. Stacking (for those new to astroimaging) is when you take multiple images and use software (usually astronomy-specific, as opposed to something like Photoshop) to actually put them one on top of the other. Why? Because a) you have a better chance at cancelling out noise [though darks make ALL the difference] and b) because you can pull out more detail with more images one on top of the other. So, in theory, the more images you take of your target (called “lights”) the better and sharper the image. 

What you can do on these cloudy nights is figure out how many lights you’d like to take of your target.

The next thing you can do is figure out the timeframe for your imaging run. Of course, once you determine your target and enter it into your imaging run series, iTelescope gives you the time it rises and sets, as well as its transit, etc., but it’s always good to take a look at sky software to see where exactly your target will be. As well, this is a perfect time to see where the moon is — if it’s up at all (see my last post for how you can use this to your advantage).

The Carina Nebula in narrowband

So don’t let those cloudy nights get you down. Take the time to pick multiple targets and research. Because this is how astrophotographers do it. Time and patience  . . . and planning.

Remember . . . use those cloudy nights!

a)   Plan which telescope you’re going to use

b)   Frame the target

c)   Decide how many lights you want or can afford

d)   Figure out at what time you’d like your imaging run to start