Take your own astronomical images by commanding one of MicroObservatory’s ground-based robotic telescopes.
MicroObservatory is a network of automated telescopes that can be controlled over the internet. The telescopes were developed by scientists and educators at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and are designed to enable youth nationwide to investigate the wonders of the deep sky from their classrooms or after-school centers. They are located and maintained at observatories affiliated with the Center for Astrophysics, including the Harvard College Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Whipple Observatory in Amado, Arizona.
The MicroObservatory remote observing network is composed of several 3-foot-tall reflecting telescopes, each of which has a 6-inch mirror to capture the light from distant objects in space. Instead of an eyepiece, the MicroObservatory telescopes focus the collected light onto a CCD detector (similar to an electronic chip in a digital camera) that records the image as a picture file with 650 x 500 pixels.
Users control the MicroObservatory telescopes and download their images themselves, with no human intervention in the loop. You can access the Observing With NASA Control Telescope web interface at any time. The telescopes are weatherproof and do not require a dome for protection, and the Control Telescope software automatically lets users know which targets are up that night. This means that even first-time observers can control the instrument without dependence on a telescope operator or other outside experts.
After you choose your target and select an exposure time, color filters, and other parameters, you submit your email address along with your request for the telescope to take the image that night. Within 48 hours, you will receive an email notification with links to access and download your very own image.