Ype de Lang - Addicted to the Cosmos
My name is Ype de Lang, I live in Heerhugowaard the Netherlands. http://titans-cctv-observatory.nl/
I have been interested in astronomy since my early childhood (at age 12 in 1970). My parents bought me my first telescope from an army Thrift-Store for my birthday. Little as it was, magnifying 40x I rebuild it to 120x by changing the order of the lenses in the standard eyepiece. My dad and I purchased material to built a tripod and this was the beginning of my career in astronomy.
As a child I never went to sleep immediately when my mother took me to bed. late at night, I opened my bedroom window to look at the stars and listen with my short wave radio to the beep and blip sounds from the cosmos. I even build my own radio-telescope dish and connected this to the short wave radio to hear where these bleeps came from.
When I was older I got a 60mm refractor from my sister and took the microscope from my brother because he did not use it, to do research. Years later I got a 4 1/2 inch Newtonian from my parents, again on my birthday.
The cosmos has always fascinated me, especially when I discovered that both the macro-cosmos as the micro-cosmos apply the same laws of physics.
In 1976 I purchased my first big telescope, an 8 inch Dynamax SCT from Criterion and made years later my first CCD images with this scope. I also built a 6 inch newton for my friend. Now my main telescope is a 10 inch MEADE SCT and started to built my own roll-off-roof observatory a few years ago. I built it all by myself with no help whatsoever because I wanted that.
I'm an autodidact and my philosophy is to use as few shots as possible and get the most out of this images with my own developed processing technics. We have to deal with many problems as astrophotographer in the Netherlands but because of this problems I'm looking for solutions that do more advanced than that you do not have those problems. I always used low-budget equipment but with great results, how would it be if I would have quality instruments that I never can afford.
My dream come true, last year in October 2010 I got older issues of Sky & Telescopes magazine from my astro-friend who lives in Fullerton CA. I read an article about Web Based Observatories and this caught my attention. I studied this article and I liked two Web Based Observatories very much (Lightbuckets and iTelescope.Net) because you are in full command. I Purchased points for Lightbuckets, but could not do anything easily. I would try to image 103p/Hartley-2 during my holiday in the USA, but my internet connection was not optimal. When I was back at home in the Netherlands I signed up for a free 60 min drive with iTelescope on T3.
I was at work doing my day job and stopped for a break and activated my iPhone 3GS and imaged my first picture of 103p/Hartley-2, wow, this is great. All I had to log in and enter the RA and Dec coordinates and the required exposure time and then click on the “Acquire Image” button. I could see the results direct on my iPhone 3GS. I did the same on another day and imaged M33.
I like the possibility of using equipment in north and south latitudes at dark sites with a command from your mobile phone wherever you are in the world, you have always your world-observatory in your pocket. iTelescope is easy and direct to use, and you are in the heat of the explosion when something happens with iTelescope Skyt Alerts, this is awesome. That's why iTelescope is my favorite.
I became more experienced in using the remote control telescopes with my iPhone 3GS. I like the real-time support that iTelescope can give you via Email or Skype. On a rare occasion I logged-in when I was at home and had a problem, I emailed support with my question. I went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and came back to my computer and notice that support has mailed me back with a answer, they would always be there to make the necessary adjustments to the system and get me back on track.
I see iTelescope not as a replacement of my own observatory but as an expansion to get the results I want because my interest has broadened to include asteroid and comet discovery, penetrate deeper into the cosmos and adding more real science. I Joined also the Zooniverse. The Zooniverse is home to the Internet's largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects. Thanks to GRAS I made a color image of asteroid Scheila-596 outburst, I combined the results of two great iTelescopes (T3-T11). There will also be a 17 inch Planewave Extended Red telescope available soon, Wow...Give me the tools and I get the results, thanks iTelescope for my worldwide observatory.
My advise for new drivers: Use the darkside of the sky, escape your limits with iTelescope.