Saturday, September 12, 2009

Connected Astronomy

I really enjoyed Fraser and Dr Pamela's AstonomyCast Podcast last week about "Next Level Telescopes" [Episode #150]. It was a fantastic roadmap of information, so I thought I would follow up, and build on that, by doing a little tour video of my own setup.

The advantages of remote, connected astronomy are many:

-No setup and tear down time
-No cold night air on the back of the neck
-No travel to dark sites
-Desktop convenience
-Collaboration, community and access to other highly skilled experts

Disadvantages (opportunities for personal growth)are:
-Its highly technical and very complex
-Can be expensive to do it yourself
-Broadband access can be challenging in remote areas
-WARNING - check you telco's broadband download limits on your Internet Plan

Whilst some of these interfaces are customised/proprietry the bulk of the legwork is done by Maxim DL, TheSky, FocusMax and the telescope controller.

Of course most challeneges can be overcome if you are dealing with people who know what they are doing, and you are prepared to be patient. There is nothing better than setting up a run and then relaxing in the leather recliner with the iPhone in the cup holder as a virtual console to monitor the progress of the run. Even better is setting up an image run in the dead of night whilst you are fast asleep, and downloading the images next day.

Here is my latest Astrophotography image: M17 or the Omega Nebula is not as often photographed as some, but the surrounding star field makes it a lovely composition.

This LRGB photo totaling 90 mins of imaging time 960sLum, 1500sRed, 1500sGreen, 1500sBlue binned 1x1 shows what is achievable.

So with the last word (or should that be letter) on connected astronomy..... ;-)......Enjoy!


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