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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)

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With 20 telescopes, and observatories located in New Mexico, Australia and Spain, observers are able to follow the night sky around the globe 24x7.

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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)

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Sky Alerts

Dr Ian Musgrave  - iTelescope Science Advisor

An avid amateur astronomer, Ian writes the weekly sky updates for ABC Radio Science and is science adviser to iTelescope. When not staring at the sky he is an equally enthusiastic molecular pharmacologist at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

You can follow Ian Musgrave on his Astroblog for daily posts about astronomy, biology and life, the Universe and everything.

"Over at Astroblog I largely guide people to the view of the sky as seen with the unaided eye. But I’m also an iTelescope.Net user, and I’m very honoured to have been invited to highlight some of the interesting objects that can be seen through the iTelescopes.

While many people are familiar with the larger, more glamorous objects in the night sky that make good iTelescope targets, there are a host of lesser known, interesting objects that are well worth chasing such as fast moving Near Earth Objects, Novae and Comets."  Twitter @ianmusgrave

Friday
Nov042011

Catching Asteroid 2005 YU55

UPDATED Section on generating topocentric ephemeris (06/11/11)

left - Path of Asteroid 2005 YU55 as seen from Mayhill NM on the evening of November the 8th at the start of astronomical twilight. Position ticks are every 15 minutes, click to embiggen.

The 400 meter wide asteroid 2005 YU55 will pass within 0.85 Lunar Distance (0.0022 AU) of Earth on the evening of November 8-9, being closest at November 8, 23:39 UT. Imaging this asteroid will be a significant challenge, it will be moving around 8" a second near closest approach and 9" a second at closest approach. Furthermore, with the Moon nearly Full, and the asteroid heading towards it, conditions are not favorable.

Only the New Mexico Scopes have a chance of seeing the asteroid, for Spain and Australia the asteroid is below the telescopes limit of travel. From New Mexico, the asteroid is visible high in the sky from astronomical twilight on. You won't see it at closest approach, that occurs in the late afternoon/twilight, but just after when the asteroid is still moving  at a fair clip.

left - High power view showing the fields of view of GRAS-14 (large rectangle) and GRAS-05 (small rectangle). The tick marks are 2 minute apart. The track is the geocentric position, which is somewhat removed from the Topocentric position, the circle shows the predicted view from Mayhill from the MPEC (click to embiggen, but use a proper topocentric ephemeris or the GRAS comet/NEA dialog, rather than this chart, for indicative purposes only).

Choosing an imaging instrument is a tradeoff; GRAS-14 is nice wide-field instrument that performs well under Moonlight, but you can't drive it faster than sidereal rate, and the blur that is YU55 may be too faint to show up. GRAS-20 is also wide-field, although narrower than GRAS-14.

GRAS-04 and GRAS-05 can be driven fast enough to track the asteroid in tracking mode, but positional uncertainties may mean the tracking might be a bit off (and trailing bright stars may override the asteroids position). Yes, I know there are other instruments, but this gives an idea of the considerations you have to juggle.

As the asteroid is quite close to Earth, there will be a significant parallax error between geocentric ephemeris and the position as seen from Mayhill, use a proper topometric ephemeris instead (eg using the MPEC ephemeris generator, if you enter the observatory code for Mayhill - H06,  into the box in the ephemeris generator, make sure the Epoch is set to November 8, 2001 and it will create a topocentric ephemeris for Mayhill).

If you take this approach, remember that it takes time for the GRAS scopes to get to tracking position. GRAS-14 can take up to 5 minutes (depending on there being reliable stars in the field for tracking), so offset you inital position by around 4 minutes or so (this will be a significant distance) so the asteroid will be in field. I used this technique to image 2011 MN in GRAS-12, which was moving at about 10" per second (but not in strong Moonlight though).

Or better yet, use the one line MPEC elements and the comet/NEA option for the GRAS scopes (for the GRAS-05/04 instruments, you can choose the track option so the instrument will track the asteroid).

While this is challenging, GRAS users have captured rapidly moving faint asteroids before, 2010 TD4 and2011 MD although without the Moonlight.

Sunday
Oct162011

October Highlights, C/2009 P1, C/2010 G2 Hill, C/2010 X1 Elenin and more

C/2009 P1 imaged on October 16 using the GRAS05 scope. 1 x120 second image processed with FITS Liberator and despeckled in ImageJ. Click to embiggen

Now that the Moon is waning, imaging can go ahead in earnest.

Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd is still outstanding, followthis link to an amazing image from Rolando Ligustri. The comet is now around magnitude 6.8, and continues to be a good target. However, for GRAS scopes, it is only visible in the northern scopes and then from astronomical twilight until around 9:15 pm, when it goes below the travel limit of the scopes. Comet C/2009 Garradd doesn't have any good encounters (lots of dim galaxies like Mag 15 PGC 60830 on 17-18 Oct and Mag 15.6 PGC 60684 on 24-25 Oct) until late this month when it is in G5 range of M 12.8 NGC 6408.

Comet C/2010 G2 Hill and several galaxies imaged with GRAS05 on October 16, stack of 5x120 sec exposures, luminance filter. Click to embiggen

Comet C/2010 G2 Hill is currently magnitude 10, in Lynx passing into Auriga. It is  heading through some interesting territory, although still a northern scope object and still best in the morning hours. On the 16th and 17th C/2010 G2 Hill is within GRAS05 range of several galaxies ranging from magnitude 12-15.

There after it is often close to faint, magnitude 14-15 galaxies which will take long exposures to get good images of. On October 22 it will pass in front of magnitude 15.4 PGC 19765, this occurs during daytime , but in the New Mexico scopes it comes within 3' before astronomical twilight. Moonlight will still be a problem for this morning comet for a while until the Moon wanes.

Chart showing the location of C/2010 G2 Hill and several of the galaxies it encounters. Click to embiggen.

73P/Gehrels has been reported to be magnitude 11. In Pisces, it is observable with both northern and southern scopes. On 17 October it is within GRAS05 range of magnitude 112 NGC 7714.

Comet C/2010 X1 has disintegrated, but people are trying to see if they can pick up the remnants. So farno clear identification has been made, as the Moon wanes and the predicted position becomes higher, it will be interesting to try and recover the remnants.

Comets 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova and 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 have been reported to be reasonably bright, but will not be in view of GRAS scopes until November.

Sunday
Jul102011

July Highlights, M51, the Jewel Box, C/2009 P1 and a few other comets

left - Path of Comet C/2009 P1 during July. The large rectangle is the filed of view of T-14 (clcik to embiggen).

July is a good month for comets. Sadly,27P/Crommelin, which is roughly magnitude 11 now, is too low from the iTelescope systems. Comet C/2010 X1Elenin is in Leo, and is brightening significantly. It is too low to the horizon for the northern hemisphere telescopes, but for the Australian telescopes Elenin is over 30 degrees above the horizon at astronomical twilight. During its July journey Elenin comes close to several 15th and 16th magnitude galaxies. On the 18th of July, two days after the Full Moon is Australia,  Elenin is 14' from 13th magnitude NGC 3509.

C/2011 C1 McNaught is still quite bright (around magnitude 11, although the MPEC insists it is magnitude 18) and high in the morning sky, not far from Jupiter (although when I tried to image it from Mayhill I got a "The slew coordinates are below the minimum elevation limit" message when using the MPEC elements, when it should have been well above the telescope limits). On the 11th, comet C1 McNaught is 28' from the 14th magnitude galaxy UGC 1814 as well as a number of smaller galaxies. This should make a nice composition. Thereafter there isn't any particularly interesting encounters for the rest of the month.

 C/2009 P1 Garradd is the stand out comet for this month. Zooming through Pegasus, disappointingly it doesn't come close to anything interesting until quite late in the month, when  it is within a G14 field of the globular M15. There is nothing disappointing about the comet itself, with it's twin tails and increasing brightness it will be an outstanding target for months to come.

See the image taken by Rolando Ligustri using GRAS-11 for serious comet awesomeness. 

 

Supernova in M51 taken with T-05 on 7 July, RGB composite assembled with ImageJ. I think the red channel is too bright, click to embiggen.

The Supernova in M51 is still bright and a worthy imaging object. Thanks to all those who have submitted images for the crowdsourcing project. I'll do something with them when I have finished all the exam marking.

Aside from M51, there is a huge number of potential targets out there. I'm going to highlight the Jewel Box Cluster this month (I was going to do it last month, but M51 was the top story). This is a pretty little cluster with strong contrasting colours, an excellent target for colour imaging.

Unfortunately Moonlight will interfere with imaging for a while, and you have to go for it shortly after astronomical twilight at the moment, but it is well worth the effort.

Saturday
Jul092011

New Comet C/2011 N2 (McNaught)


left - Track of Comet C/2011 N2 McNaught over the next 3 months. Click to embiggen.

Rob McNaught has done it again. He has chalked up his 63rd comet, C/2011 N2 (McNaught). C/2011 N2 is currently magnitude 17.9, and sadly it will get dimmer rather than brighter. It's currently in Centaurus, and will move into Scorpius in the next few months.

Tonight (10th July) the comet is 5' from the 16th magnitude galaxy PGC 50404, so this could be a good imaging opportunity for those willing to go deep.  There are several enocunters during C/2011 N2's journey, on the 14th for example it is 6' from the 14th magnitude galaxy PGC 50658 with 4 other dimmer galaxies close by.

Again, the dimness of C/2011 N2 makes it a bit of a challege, but such a rich background could make it worth while.

You can use the MPEC elements, or use the MPCE one line elements in the comet and asteroid dialog.

    CK11N020  2011 10 09.7955  2.696257  1.000000  353.2923  272.2736   34.8945            11.5  4.0      C/2011 N2 (McNaught)