Sunday, March 14, 2010

The view from down under

At the BAA Deep Sky Section meeting the other day there was an interesting talk about imaging via remote telescopes. The scopes mentioned were #1-Sierra Stars Observatory in New Mexico where you request particular images and your request is queued and done. #2- Global Rent a Scope based also in NM and in Australia, where you control the scope in real time. These cost about £1 per minute. Probably a better deal on SSO than GRAS because there you are charged only for the exposure time rather than the slew, focus time etc. The BAA offer a discount if Council feel that you have a worthy project.

Anyway GRAS offer a try before you buy scheme with scope and image quality limitations, so I signed up for that. Most of last week it was snowing in New Mexico and Australia was offline. On Friday morning G13 (Takahashi Sky 90 with SBIG ST-2000XMC on a Paramount) was available in oz so I grabbed it and did a couple of 600sec (10 min) images including this one of the Trifid nebula. Within seconds the jpeg was delivered in my mail. You need to sign up for the full package in order to be able to download full res FITS images.

The blurb on site compares the economics of GRAS compared to the cost of the whole system - pointing out that the money you spend on your own kit just gives so many clear nights in a year, whereas using a remote system you have a much better chance of many clear nights for the same number of £s.

So will I go for it? I suppose that if we have winters like that now finished ,compounded with a time of ill health discouraging me from going out in the cold I might.

On the other hand it may be easier to make my observatory remotely operable.

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