Are you tired of cold or cloudy nights getting in the way of your astronomy hobby? Is light pollution forcing you drive for hours just to get to a dark-sky site? Ever wonder what it would be like to use a research-grade telescope to image your favorite nebula, galaxy, or cluster? If so, then take a look at the new online telescopes from LightBuckets.
The team at LightBuckets owns three RC Optical Systems Ritchey-Chrétien telescopes and one wide-field Takahashi FSQ-106EDX you can control from any computer.
Their flagship observatory, located under the dark and steady skies of Rodeo, New Mexico, features a 24-inch Ritchey on an RC Optical Systems mount. For capturing photons, the telescope uses an Apogee Alta U42 camera with a full complement of AstroDon filters (including LRGB, Ha, SII, OIII, and V).
LightBuckets also has placed a 14.5-inch Ritchey-Chrétien in the Southern Hemisphere. That scope opens up a whole new sky to northern astroimagers.
LightBuckets’ interface lets you pick your observatory, choose your imaging schedule, select your target, and create your imaging plan. While your imaging plan is running, the LightBuckets Run Monitor displays real-time telemetry from the observatory. This includes guiding, weather, an all-sky view, and your completed subframes — it’s almost like being there. Once your run has finished, you’ll find your files in a secure account area. Visit LightBuckets’ web site at www.lightbuckets.com for more information.
What is the cost for using this grade equipment? For the price of a few hours of observing you could own a decent telescope, camera and filters.
I just went to the LightBuckets website and the pricing is right there on the home page. They also have a free 60 minute test drive offer right now for their 20" telescope that I signed up for. The 24" telescope is $100/hr, their 20" telescope is $50/hr, and their 14.5" telescope in Australia is $75/hr. "Decent", as you put it, is pretty relative but I think these guys are on to something. For what I would think is a good imaging set up you would have to plunk down about $5,000. That's 50 hours on their biggest telescope, more than just "a few". Sure, you would own a decent imaging system if you bought your own (it wouldn't compare to what you can use on their site), but you'd also have to find an imaging location with good sky quality (dark, transparent, good seeing, etc., etc.). Living in northeast Ohio, I have to deal with not only light pollution but clouds much of the time. Getting to a dark sky site with good weather isn't easy for me and so that's another thing that makes this service interesting. Not to mention that they can put me on a telescope in Australia too...that's definitely not easy for me to do!
Glad to hear that. Based off a thread made the summer of last year, maybe things have changed. I remember the thread well.
It sounds as though the prices have become more reasonable. Also, they now post the prices. Last thread the prices didn't jump out at you and needed clarifying.