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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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Astronomy Software & Tips

See Also: Video Tutorials & Remote Basics

We Strongly Suggest Firefox Internet Browser for iTelescope Services


Downloading your Files

Most iTelescope.net systems deliver all image files in 32bit FITS format. Fits or (Flexible Image Transport System) is a standard image format used in astronomy. While it can store bitmaps of astronomical images, it can also store astronomical/scientific data.

If you are a full member of the iTelescope system then you will need to retrieve data from your FTP folder, this can be done via the LaunchPad control page. More Information Here.

Some FTP applications iTelescope.Net recommends are Core FTP LE or FileZilla Client. The Mac FTP program iTelescope.Net recommends  is Cyberduck.

Web File Transfer:- data.itelescope.net  (highly recommended)

FTP Address:- ftp.itelescope.net

WinRAR will make it Easier to open all those Compressed FITs Files.

You can also access your data via a web page through the LaunchPad interface. See the topside menu options.

Be Aware that your data will be stored within the FTP area for a maximum of 90 days before permanent purging. DOWNLOAD and Backup your valuable DATA!  

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iTelescope.Net also offers Cloud delivery of your Data files via the following service providers directly to your computer Desktop. Its simply the ultimate in Rapid and Reliable transfer of your valuable data. 

DropBoxhttps://www.dropbox.com/ comes with 5 GB of free storage.
Google Drive - https://www.google.com/drive/
Direct FTP - You can run your own FTP server and we will automatically upload your image files to it.

Typically you install client software on your computer, which will directly deliver your files in real time to your computer.

This service is free to all members on Plan-290 and above, which includes education accounts. All other accounts will be charged a 100 point once off connection fee, as it is a time consuming process on our end to link your iTelescope.Net account to your cloud storage account. If you need support in setting up your account or remote configuration of your computer we can provided limited IT support at 100 points per hour.

Please send an email to support@itelescope.net to make your request. Please include the following details.

1) Connection required, e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
2) Your registered email address so we can share your files to your account. 

If Direct FTP, please provide us with your IP/Host, username and password.

Connections may take 2-3 working days to complete.


Planetarium Applications

planetarium or sky simulation software package will be useful. This will allow you to 'see' and navigate the skies above the telescopes and plan your sessions efficiently. Eg maximum elevation and clearance from the moon of your targets etc. A good map will allow you to precisely aim the telescopes at your desired RA - Dec coordinates as well.

Dont forget to use the correct Time Zones and iTelescope Observatory locations.

See Video Tutorials for Stellarium use with iTelescope.

We recommend Stellarium (free), Starry Night or TheSkyX 


Data Reduction Software

If you really want to get the most from your raw FITs images then you will need an image reduction and enhancement package such as MaximDL CCDStack , Deep Sky Stacker (free), Pixinsight or StarTools many of which offer free 30 day trial periods.

CCDStack

CCDStack provides all the tools you need for your image processing workflow:

  • Dark, Flat and Bias frame calibration (Optional)
  • Star Bloom Removal
  • Image alignment and registration
  • Re-sampling of registered images
  • Image normalization
  • Advanced Data Rejection
  • Image Combine
  • Gradient Removal
  • Real-Time DDP Display
  • Deconvolution and Sharpening
  • Full LRGB Color Capabilities
  • Download Tutorial Here
  • See demo Video.

StarTools

StarTools is a post-processing application, designed from the ground up for astronomical images. StarTools is all about taking advantage of your modern 64-bit multi-core hardware to make your life easier and deliver superior results. StarTools contains modules that rival and improve on some of the household names in astrophotography software and plug-ins. 

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PixInsight

PixInsight is an image processing platform specialized in astrophotography, available natively for FreeBSD, Linux, Mac OS X and Windows operating systems. PixInsight is both an image processing environment and a development framework. It is the result of a dynamic collaboration between like-minded astrophotographers and software developers, who are constantly pushing the boundaries of astronomical image processing with the most powerful toolset available.

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Astrometry

Astrometrica is a free interactive shareware tool for scientific grade astrometry data reduction of CCD images. The current version for the Windows 32bit operating system family is the successor of a DOS based software that was used for astrometry data reduction of photographic films (1990), and later CCDs (1993). Features of the current version include:

  • Reads FITS (8, 16 and 32 bit integer files) and SBIG image files. The size of the images is only limited by the available memory
  • Automatic image calibration (Dark Frame and Flat Field correction)
  • Blinking with automatic image alignment
  • Zoom and 'Magnifying Glass' for closeup image inspection
  • Automatic reference star identification
  • Automatic moving object detection and identification
  • 'Track and Stack' function to follow fast or very faint moving objects
  • Access to the complete MPC database of orbital elements (MPCOrb)
  • Access to new-generation star catalogs (PPMXL, UCAC 3 and CMC-14)
  • Includes Internet access (Send e-mail to the MPC, download the MPCOrb databse or query reference star catalogs at VizieR)
  • Online help system and tutorials

DeepSkyStacker

DeepSkyStacker is freeware for astrophotographers that simplifies all the pre-processing steps of deep sky pictures.

Basic Features:

  • Registering & Stacking

  • Simple post-stacking processes to quickly view the final result

  • Saving the resulting image to a TIFF or FITS file (16 or 32 bit)

After an iTelescope session you can input all your data to DeepSkyStacker. Then see the result and start post-processing.


Useful Astronomy Tools and Information

 

A Large List of Downloadable Astronomy Software

http://www.pierpaoloricci.it/download/downloadsoftware_eng.htm 

Online Asteroid Comet Plotting

Astrometry.Net - SAO ds9 Freeware

If you have astronomical imaging of the sky with celestial coordinates you do not know—or do not trust—then Astrometry.net is for you. Input an image and they give you back astrometric calibration meta-data, plus lists of known objects falling inside the field of view.  - See here for Setup/Use.

UniMap is a free/open source astronomy software package which has been developed to do plate-solving (automated detection and sky catalog matching) for astrophotography.

WinRAR will make it Easier to open all those Compressed FITs Files.

DeBloomer Plug-in

DeBloomer is plug-in for CCDSoft and MaxIm DL that removes blooming from your images. It contains both automatic and manual tools that remove blooms and leave stars nice and round. You can now download it and try it for free for 30 days to see how you like it.

Note: You must have your own copy of CCDSoft or MaxIm DL to use this program.

Gradient Removal Plug-in

The Gradient Removal plug-in works with both CCDSoft and MaxIm DL. It removes both linear and radial gradients. The linear gradient removal feature uses calculations designed to match the types of gradients you encounter from light pollution, moonlight, and other typical nighttime sources. Radial gradient removal is useful for those times when you don't have a flat handy.

Note: You must have your own copy of CCDSoft or MaxIm DL to use this program.

Another useful tool would let you preview the field of view and see details on the CCD / Telescope combinations. We recommend CCDCalc - Free Visual Calculator.


 Books on Imaging and Amateur Science

If you really want to understand imaging, reading these books can really help you understand a lot more about CCD cameras and image processing.

Want to do some science, so where to start?

Probably the very best place start is Robert Buchheim’s book, The Sky is Your Laboratory

In 293 pages, Buchheim covers just about every field of astronomical research that is within the reach of the self-funded astronomer. Of particular interest to iTelescope observers in the data gathering and analysis area (Chapters 4 and 5) are Project H, CCD photometry of variable stars, Project I, determining asteroid light curves, Project J, extra-solar planet transit, Project L, asteroid astrometry (comets too!).  Project M, measuring visual double stars.

 

Lessons from the Masters: Current Concepts in Astronomical Image Processing

This book is a unique collaboration of individuals world-renowned in their particular area and covers in detail each of the major sub-disciplines of astrophotography. This approach offers the reader the greatest opportunity to learn the most current information and the latest techniques directly from the foremost innovators in the field today. “Lessons from the Masters” includes a brilliant body of recognized leaders in astronomical imaging, assembled by Robert Gendler, who delivers the most current, sophisticated and useful information on digital enhancement techniques in astrophotography available today. Each chapter focuses on a particular technique, but the book as a whole covers all types of astronomical image processing, including processing of events such as eclipses, using DSLRs, and deep-sky, planetary, widefield, and high resolution astronomical image processing. Recognized contributors include deep-sky experts such as Jay GaBany, Tony Hallas, and Ken Crawford, high-resolution planetary expert Damian Peach, and the founder of TWAN (The World at Night) Babak A. Tafreshi.

 


FITS Liberator

By Dr Ian Musgrave

As people know, I'm a fan of low cost astroimaging. For iTelescope remote telescope images, my workhorse is the freeware ImageJ. This works pretty well, especially for stacking and aligning images. However, astronomical images can have a large dynamic range from the very faint to the almost overexposed. How to bring out faint structure without turning the bright sections into glaring blobs?

This is where FITS Liberator comes in, it's a freeware app (also there are photoshop plugins), which makes it very easy to adjust the dynamic range of your images for later assembly in other image processing programs (You can do something similar in ImageJ but it's not as easy). As you can see in these images, with FITS liberator I was able to adjust the dynamic range of my Tarantula Nebula images to almost match the brightness of the multi-stacked images, without the central regions getting over-exposed or the background being over-coloured.

Obviously my Tarantula Nebula won't win contests, and I still have a lot to learn, but I'm going to get a lot more out of my images now.

The FITS Liberator website comes with links to a whole range of Hubble raw images, and step by step instructions so you can create your own version of classic Hubble pictures. The PDF user manual is here.

Left Image: Tarantula Nebula imaged using the  T14 instrument with 3 x 120 sec Red filter FITS images, 3 x 120 sec Green filter FITS images and 3 x 120 sec Blue filter FITS images. Each series of individual filter runs stacked using in Image J using Z projection of maximum intensity, then stacked and assembled into a RGB composite using ImageJ.

Right Image: Single 120 sec RGB filter FITS images stretched using FITS liberator and ArcSinh(x) stretch. Stretched files stacked and assembled into a RGB composite using ImageJ.

These are smaller frames of the nebula cropped from the full image. You really, really need to click on these images and embiggen them (and then compare to this APOD image taken on a iTelescope system which is 31 hours of exposure).

Ian Musgrave


How to use VPHOT

VPHOT is an online photometry application for AAVSO members, and is seamlessly integrated with the iTelescope systems. If you choose to send your images to the VPHOT server they will automatically be calibrated and plate solved, and ready for photometric analysis in VPHOT online. Note that it might take 10-30 minutes before the images appear in VPHOT depending on network traffic, server load etc.

In order to use VPHOT you have to be an AAVSO member. You start by going to the AAVSO web site at http://www.aavso.org/ and log on to their web site with you AAVSO user name. Then you enter the VPHOT server via the link at the bottom of this page:

http://www.aavso.org/vphot

Before you can see your images in VPHOT you need to tell the system your iTelescope.Net user name so that it can correctly identify your images as they come in from the telescopes. To do this, you click the ‘Admin’ link in the top menu of VPHOT, and then click ‘Image Transfer (Connect Accounts)’. Follow the instructions on that page. You only have to do this once.


Each page in VPHOT has a help link that explains the details of that particular page. You can also view the excellent video tutorials below.

Note that some features has changed and new ones added since these videos were made, but the main features are the same.

These video tutorials have been produced by Ken Mogul.


Please direct questions and comments to the VPHOT forum.