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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 19 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.

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. 

 

 


Wednesday
Aug062014

Battling the light

Why are you a member of iTelescope? If you’re like me, it’s not just because you love the night sky and all that the universe has to offer. It’s also because you can’t actually see what it has to offer.

A map of the light pollution across our planet. Data courtesy Marc Imhoff of NASA GSFC and Christopher Elvidge of NOAA NGDC. Image by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon, NASA GSFC.

Since the invention of the light bulb, the night sky has suffered greatly. That little ball of light went from helping us see our way through the night to increasing our work hours and therefore increasing the necessity for extended periods of light.

The design of the light bulb is still basically the same it was when it was invented in 1800s (I don’t say that Thomas Edison invented it since there were many who experimented successfully, including two Canadians - Matthew Evans and Henry Woodward).

Just think about that design. Where does all that light go? Down and out. That light then gets reflected back up into the sky, turning the black sky to pale blue or even orange in some cases.

It’s not that we don’t have a need for light, but we need to start using it more responsibly with better designs, mainly full cutoff light fixtures, which ensure that the light is directed down to where it’s needed. As well, we need to ensure that use lights only when needed, as opposed to illuminating everything all the time.

The sky as seen from just north of Toronto, Canada. Note the blue hue and lack of stars.

What’s most distressing about light pollution is the effect it has on all life on our planet. From the loss of sea turtles in Florida to the increased incidence of breast cancer in women, it is literally killing us.

A 1999 study found that nurses – who work shift work – had a 60 per cent greater chance of developing breast cancer.

It’s well known that newly-hatched sea turtles use brightness as a way to orient themselves toward the water. Normally, they see the reflectivity of starlight on the water and head out to sea to live out their lives. But recently, researchers have found that light from nearby parking lots or buildings are confusing them. Instead of heading out to sea to live a long turtle life, they are instead crushed by cars or eaten by predators.

The universe has helped direct humanity in culture, science, religion and art.  We need to bring back the night. It’s more important than we may think.

If you’d like to see a great documentary on light pollution, see The City Dark. Also, visit the International Dark-Sky Association.

Tuesday
Apr012014

A conversation with Damian Peach

If you're like me, you're in awe of the images that Damian Peach has produced. Many of his images have appeared as APODs, but he is able to take even the seemingly simplest targets and produce stunning detail. 

1.    When did you start imaging?

I first started imaging back in 1997-98, but have actually been observing since the age of 10. I first became interested in astronomy when I started reading books on the subject in primary school.  

2.    What equipment did you start off with?

My very first optical instrument was a pair of 8x30 binoculars I got at around the age of 10 or 11. I vividly remember watching the nightly motions of the Jovian moons with them. Soon after I got my first telescope –- a small 50mm refractor.  I still have this telescope today.

3.    What was your first target?

I’d always been fascinated by the planets. My first target for my first ever telescope was Venus. I clearly remember this first view: it was high up in the evening sky at exactly half phase. I remember being really amazed at this small white globe serenely hanging there in the eyepiece that looked like a miniature moon. Jupiter was also a firm favourite.

4.    Can you tell us about your processing technique?

For all of the images taken using iTelescope I use Maxim DL, Photoshop, and Pixinsight. These three packages do just about everything you could want when it comes to image processing. I have all manner of different routines for various objects. A lot of my work with iTelescope involves comets, especially producing high quality colour images of them.

5.    What are your successes?

With iTelescope I think my biggest success has been my image of Comet ISON from November 15, 2013. This image has been published all over the world and has probably been my most published and successful image ever. I’ve also had numerous APOD’s using the iTelescope systems, mostly related to comets, but also some deep sky work.

In my career as a planetary observer I've had many high points and successes that are too numerous to list, but I think the one stand-out is becoming good friends with my astronomical hero Sir Patrick Moore during the last decade of his life and appearing on his Sky at Night show with him numerous times. The parties and gatherings at his home over the years I shall remember for the rest of my days.

6.    What object was the most challenging?

Colour comet imaging can be very challenging and quite often a lot of thought and planning is required. I often plan these runs in advance using Guide 9. The processing can also be complex and lengthy, as with fast-moving comets you must create and merge two images –- one processed to keep the star field still, the other to keep the comet still, and then merge them together.

7.    What’s your favourite object that you’ve imaged?

That’s a tough one. I think it has to be Comet Lovejoy in recent times. That has been a really wonderful object and I've managed to capture many high-quality images of it. It’s been a great “consolation prize” with ISON having disintegrated.

8.    Why did you join iTelescope?

I’ve always had a keen interest in comets and deep-sky work, but where I live the light pollution and near- permanent high humidity is not at all conducive to producing high-quality images of these kinds of objects. Spending money on a home set-up would be a waste of time, really. A good friend had often used iTelescope (and GRAS before that) for imaging, and that’s what really tempted me to try it out. It has really helped re-ignite my interest in other areas of astronomy, and my now extensive gallery of comet images is a testament to this!

9.    What words of advice do you have for those beginning to image?

Take your time with it. Don’t expect top quality results straight away. It takes a lot of practice and experimenting to learn and develop routines that work well. Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice -– there are many people out there ready to offer help. The iTelescope Facebook Member's group is a good place to ask for advice from those just starting out.

10. If you could have an observatory anywhere, where would it be?

I think it would have to be on the mountain side at Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Sub arc-second seeing conditions and extremely dark skies are common place here, not to mention some wonderful natural scenery as you are far above the clouds. The neighbouring island of La Palma is much the same, and both islands are already home to professional telescopes.

Thanks Damian..