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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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Members in Focus

Astronomy by iTelescope.Net Members

As part of an iTelescope initiative we want to help put YOU our members in the spotlight!

If you really want the world to see and read about your own astronomical story and achievements, then lets us know! We will publish a short article about you and your adventures in astronomy! Write as much as you feel like, but we will also need a few images. Pictures of yourself doing astronomy and some of your favourite astroshots!

Send your story to Pete today!

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Tuesday
May152012

The Cosmic Obsession & Francis Walsh

My story may be unlike any other and I am happy it is as it is. My name is Francis Walsh and I call myself, “Your favorite, amateur astronomer” when speaking about astronomy.
I talk to my friends who share an interest in the night sky but many who call me friend say I should drop ‘amateur’ from the self-given moniker; “You can do more than me” is usually why. I may not be your everyday astronomer but that’s because I’m not your everyday astronomer and I’ll tell you why.
I was asked not too long ago, “Francis, why are you doing what your doing?” by someone who found me to be less than excited one day. I had to stop and think what the best answer would be.
On a late November afternoon in 2009 outside of Houston, my wife pulled her favorite piece of technology away from an ear to inform me, “My dad said the space station is going to fly overhead tonight.” She waited for an answer momentarily before pressing the phone to her ear and going back to what must have been a more interesting conversation.
Exactly where I was before she said that I cannot remember but something in the information made me think about the sight. It might have been the first time to be told such timely information about the ISS. The thought evolved into action and two hours later five members of our close-knit family were looking up.
The equipment available for viewing was what we had at the time; store-bought and gifted to my son. There were five people and two telescopes standing in the middle of the open lot adjacent to the family home, my eye was in one and my son’s eye was in the other while my wife and her parents looked on at us maneuvering these small tubes one way and then the other. We were all waiting to see something that would tell us the space station was near.
Francis and Sean are looking for the ISS
A bright spot of light appeared where it was supposed to and at the appointed time. I swung my tube to the northwest thinking I would be able to do what I was unable to do. I should have stopped and looked up at the brightest object, the International Space Station in the sky moving from one side of the sky to the other. It faded in and out of that early night. I was happy that the experience went so well. I just had an early experience with a telescope at age 40 for the first time and I learned it’s hard to capture a moving target in the sights of a small telescope.
My friend and father-in-law Bob Fitzhenry had a different experience than me as he watched us that night. It was at that moment, or those moments, that an idea was born for him and it has compelled me to be the type of amateur astronomer I am and again, I’m not your average, everyday astronomer and neither is Bob.
Now that I said it twice you’re thinking that an astronomer is an astronomer is an astronomer. Well, I can tell you that it has been my experience that is anything but the truth; astronomy is what you want it to be.
To me being an astronomer has evolved from a once-in-40-years thing to an almost constant thought movement that involves outer space. Before we get to that I should continue what the story has to say about what has me writing to you now about me.
I started getting an idea that something more than the space station flying over head occurred that night when our son received an Orion reflector telescope for his birthday which happens to be on Christmas day. It was about 30-days after the space station event that I learned Bob had taken to astronomy and that we were going to be enjoying a new family tradition and it had everything to do with the night sky and telescopes.
The 10-inch Dobsonian from Orion came with ‘go-to’ features and gave us our first look into the night with the help of a tool that could tempt you with the fruits of astronomy labor. We began to learn about setting up and aligning and calibrating and collimating a telescope. As we learned, modifications were made to see better and farther. After thirty days Bob was thinking again there must be a better way and that thought resulted in a new telescope being ordered. This time he was going big and we were all going big with him.
From December of 2009 until October 2010 we learned abut astronomy and spent time under the stars looking up. Now we were waiting for a new 25-inch mirror to be sent to us from Obsession telescope inside the company’s truss-type Dobsonian telescope.
We were just your ordinary family doing ordinary astronomy until it sunk in what was coming. This new purchase created new interactions through the internet that were not being had in the past. Our family was speaking to other astronomers online and finding new places to learn new things. The process continued to mature until the current plan was in order. The new telescope would be used for astro-photography and eventual LIVE video for broadcasting to the public via the internet. This plan was the stepping stone for where we are today and you maybe can imagine the next step if you’ve gotten this far with us.
It’s December 10, 2010 and 60-days after the arrival of the new, huge telescope. Since then there has been a Mallincam CCD camera delivered and another telescope on its way, an 11” Celestron aplanatic Schmidt Cassegrain. We were setting up the equipment at a mobile location and trying to learn how to make all the pieces work.
I didn’t know it but a future friend of mine, Leonid Elenin, was making a new discovery of his own on that day in December.
His discovery set my path and accelerated my journey.
By March, 2011 we had officially named the mobile observatory Cosmic Obsession and we worked hard to learn how to use the new tools to the best of our ability. Mobile setups took about two hours time and the tearing it down took an hour. It was hard work but now there was a live broadcast available to the public through our telescope. People could see what we saw on the Night Skies Network http://www.nightskiesnetwork.com. Bob was where he wanted to be and he probed the wonders of the night and I spoke about what I was seeing. It was then that my research, astronomy, and ITelescope came together. It was here that fact and fiction began to play an important part in my personal experience with astronomy, my purpose with astronomy, and the future of astronomy comes face to face with people like me; I’m just like you.
Believe it or not, I was one of the people who listened to and found argument with, researchers of current events that claimed there was a death star coming into the solar system which would create a traumatic event here on Earth. This theory was promoted by few with great fervor. I heard the information and made a connection to what I was doing with Bob. I wanted to get involved but had been unable to get the images I needed with the tools we were using at home. It wasn’t because we couldn’t get to it, it became because we couldn’t get to it before the broadcast or night was over. I had to find another answer to my problem. I had become highly motivated.
I searched, “rent a telescope” in March of 2011 and I was lead to what today is known as ITelescopoe.net. Then it was know as Global-Rent-a-Scope. Today they are even better than they were then but either way, they became my window into a part of space where something was happening, just not as it was being told to many people via the internet, talk-radio, and YouTube. I viewed as much information on how to use the system I could before I signed up for a free trial membership. I knew what I wanted and this new tool gave me all the information I needed to get what I wanted. Right at that moment there was just one thing I wanted, a picture of C/2011 X1 (Elenin). By June 19, 2011 I was successful for the first time. There in my image was a fuzzy place where a comet resided, not a brown dwarf star heading in for a close approach to the Sun and then Earth. From a mirror’s point of view I went from a smirk to an all-teeth smile after looking at my images of Elenin for the first time. 
That success motivated me to go back to the researcher who was spreading his interpretation to show him what I had found. That became a daily report of the position and view of the comet from the images that were captured by ITelescopes located around the world. I was imaging this object but not for its beauty but more for the raw data it provided inside the .fit file of the image. Now I had current coordinates and knew exactly where this thing was.
My First image of C/2011 X1 (Elenin) using ITelescope.Net
I had fulfilled one goal and carried it through until it was over. After it there was an asteroid, YU-55, and then another object to worry about. But now I was sharing what I knew and it was making things better. In the group I had my interactions with I was an honest astronomer, amateur or not. I started a weekly astronomy report that still airs today every Friday night; Collision Course on Revolution Radio from 8-10PM EDT (about noon on Saturday in Australia).
During the more than 100 LIVE interviews and broadcasts I have had an opportunity to speak to distinguished astronomers like Robert McNaught and researchers like Richard Hoagland. Even Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke to me about how he sees the future of space and science. I have always maintained my position as an observer. Somewhere along the line I became a speaker. Now I’m speaking to you.
Variable Star in the globular cluster M3
We’re all the way to May of 2012 now. I used ITelescope to find a new way to discover variable stars and track NOW/PHA, I also continue to do research at the Cosmic Obsession Observatory as I speak publicly on current space and science news. Cosmic Obsession Observatory is now a permanent dome observatory located 40-miles northwest of Houston, Texas. Every Saturday night when the weather is good you can find us online with our own telescopes. Sometimes I use ITelescope at the same time to capture the same object from a different point of view. We’ve learned a lot and we will continue to learn and share what we learned with the public. Here’s a long video of the whole construction. Construction started in August of 2011 and ended in February, 2012 with ‘First Light’ on the 25th. 
Cosmic Obsession Observatory First Light February 25, 2012
“I want to know when things happen in space if I can and I want to tell others about it honestly while I learn what everyone should learn.”
I could not do what I do as well as I can without the assistance of the fantastic people at ITelescope.net. This amateur astronomer will endeavor to reach deeper than an average astronomer and go where no average astronomer wants to go eagerly to spread the news about space to those who may become the most affected by it or what is said about it.

 

Wednesday
Feb082012

The Shahgazer of the Orient.

By Shahrin Ahmad

I lived in a township about 10 km from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I started astronomy back in 1984 when I was just a curious 10-year old boy, and was awestruck by the tv series Battlestar Galactica! The very first telescope introduced to me was the 50mm 'toy' refractor. I still remember the very first object I observed through the telescope. It was huge and bright and I thought it was Venus. It's only after fiddling with the 'knobs jutting out the left and right side' of the tube, that I realized I was actually looking at an out-of-focus Sirius!
I am pretty much active in doing astronomy outreach to schools, universities and community since 1998. I was also invited as guest speakers on numerous talks, seminars and conventions. I am also the founder of my local astronomy online community, called Falak Online (www.falakonline.net) and is actively promoting the science and fun of astronomy to the public.
I am also an avid eclipse chaser. I flew over to Side, Turkey for the 2006 Total Solar Eclipse. In January 2009, I travelled to Anyer, Indonesia for the Annular Solar Eclipse and also to Hangzhou, China for the Total Solar Eclipse on July 2009. Yes, I got that eclipse fever bug!
I visited Siding Spring Observatory, Australia in 2009 and was totally amazed with the dark sky condition there. The sky was full of stars, with the Milky Way blazing overhead and it was here that I finally experience the shadow effect caused by the starlights! That was the moment went I finally decided to get really down and dirty into astrophotography. I wanted to share all the fantastic objects in night sky, showing them what they've missed. What other ways that I can show them other than through astrophotography!

And so, in 2011, I've completed constructing my home observatory. Based on the roll-off roof design, it was an extension to my double-story house. Due to limited space, I have to placed it on the roof of my 2nd floor. And so this became my roof-top-roll-off observatory!
I am very much involved in computing. My background in Computer Science really helped in grasping all the new technology. Thus, my observatory became my lab in developing software systems to automate as much steps during imaging as I dare to go. Most of my scripts involved using  software like MaxIM DL and ASCOM. It was fun experimenting and learning from many mistakes and pitfalls! Currently, I am the managing director of Equatorial Sky Innovations, a small company I set up to focus on developing astronomical control software.
Flashback to 2009, I came across several online telescope renting services and wondered how is it possible to 'rent' a 'telescope' online? It just doesn't make any sense to me at that time. However, out of curiosity, I subscribed to iTelescope (back then it was called GRAS) and began to do some simple shots using the Starter Trial account. I was certainly impressed with the ease of the overall setup of the service. I was even more surprise with its level of services. I remember during one of the sessions, the autofocus wasn't functioning and I emailed Support. To my surprise they replied almost immediately and even credited back my points!

I have so much fun and showing off to my astronomer friends how easy and time-saving the service was. In fact it was too easy, that some of them even said it throws away half the fun in astro-imaging and almost 'cheating'.
However, I look at it in a different way. Living under a tropical climate country, we rarely get a consistent clear night sky (from dusk to dawn). I always said to my fellow colleagues, "in Australia, they have 270 days of clear skies while back home, we have to endure 270 days of cloudy and unpredictable skies!". I wouldn't want to miss all those fantastic astronomical events, such as those magnificent conjunctions involving comets and asteroids, just because of some inconsistent weather pattern!
So, just like Einstein once said "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity",  what iTelescope provided was an opportunity. It saved so much time, yet provided with so many opportunities and valuable data sets, under such ideal condition that I will never get from my location. I don't need to worry about setting up the hardwares and softwares, let alone dealing with malfunctions and troubleshooting in the middle of an imaging run! I can now focus all my energy on getting the best results from the existing data sets. The final images still have an imprint of my effort in it!

Among my personal favorite  was during the recent return of asteroid 433 Eros. I managed to compiled a series of images showing its rapid movement across the sky. Also during the close encounter between Comet Garradd (C/2009 P1) and M92. (See Shahrin's Blog for more images)

iTelescope has already become my 'second' observatory, a complement to my home observatory. Just imagine some of the imaging sessions were executed during morning while I was quietly sipping coffee from my local coffee house or even during the all-too-often wet and rainy evening of Kuala Lumpur sky, and at times while my CCD was quietly collecting photons from my observatory, I do a quick logon into iTelescope, have a quick glance on objects unfavorable from my observatory and press the submit button!

Simply put, I have the whole universe open up at my fingertips thanks to iTelescope!

Shahrin Ahmad

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