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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Pete's Field of View

As part of your iTelescope.net team, Pete is witness to the action behind what you see on your PC screen.

As a part of iTelescope Support he is in charge of calibrations and systems upkeep. Pete is who you call upon if you have questions about the remote telescope systems or your just plain curious.

Oh. and he also manages all telescope systems across the iTelescope Network.

 


Entries in darks (1)

Wednesday
Sep222010

Some days are Flat out and Dark. But I'm not Bias

What can I say about your average Calibration frame? They are sorta dull to look at.

On my back yard Meade i would take a few darks and the odd Bias on rare occasion, Flats? Rarely, yet here I am at my iTelescope workstation, monitors spread around me, On one I'm trying to keep an eye on the systems and on top of things, and on the other monitor  I have gigabytes of fresh calibration data to plow through! Its a living.

Can you imagine what is involved in gathering these vital data files from all the iTelescopes spread across the globe? Its no picnic. But it has to be done. Often.

As the sun sets at our remote observatories they roll open to collect their daily quota of skyflats, then later maybe a few hours of Darks and Bias if the roof or domes are shut, then again more skyflats at dawn. Your telescopes never really sleep at all.

We actually have a very sophisticated AutoFlat (AF) application running on all the telescopes. NO, you cant find it at the local store, it was written just for us and our rather heavy duty needs.

Lets add it all up.

Our sample remote telescope, lets say T14 in New Mexico, will take a set of Dusk flats later today before it opens to the members. It may be a set of Red-Green-Blue, Clear or Ha-SII-OIII, and if the scope is set up for science duties it will also have a set of U-V-B-R-I onboard its filter wheel as well. So that can be up to 12 filters to run through before its too dark and the stars pop out. More often we spread out the collection of various flats during the week.

The T14 AF application wakes up and asks a few questions every afternoon and pre-dawn, it has a binary conversation with the other iTelescope software sharing its hard drive. What time is it? Where is the sun? Is the roof open yet? Do we need a special filter order today? Do I have to send or pickup any new files? It then swings into action and takes charge. It slews the T14 telescope to the best part of the eastern sky, it opens its CCD eyes and has a little peek.

Is the sky too bright? Then AF will wait a little while longer and carefully countdown as the sun dips ever lower towards the western horizon. If its too dark it must be cloudy and the roof will still be closed. So AF goes back to sleep for a while.

But when AF finds the sky is bright enough to make a start it will trigger a script in the ACP Control software. It Chills the camera, selects a filter set and begins to fire exposuress at an automatically corrected duration. This flat frame image is capturing the unavoidable optical gunk that collects in a telescope that works hard for a living.

Dust is the enemy. Tiny dust motes and other particles that penetrate to the filters or CCD will show up as dark donuts of various sizes on the white flat field images the CCD collects. These flat frames will 'cancel' them out of a user's image during realtime calibration and post processsing stages.

So T14, our sample system has now gathered between sunset, during the night and finally at dawn all its filtered flats plus if the roof is closed, a wide selection of dark frames at five standard exposure times, 60-120-180-300-600 seconds. The darks have been recorded at both 1x1 binning and 2x2, as have the bias taken along with them. Three of every flavour.

This calibration data, from each of the remote telescopes on the iTelescope system is then automatically collected by AF, named, compressed and sent via the internet to make its way to the correct folders in my 'Darkroom' workstation. About 7 Gb of raw calibration data files. All packaged and ready for inspection and conversion into master calibration frames.

The number of files I have to chew through visually to check for quality can get a bit mind numbing.  As its final task for the day, AF takes the fresh master files from my workstation and transmits them back the way they came for installation on the telescopes and into the member data server for your use when needed.

Things can and do go wrong at times. But your results are worth the work. Black Coffee helps too :)

See? At iTelescope your remote telescopes are never too idle. Thanks AF,  I for one appreciate you!