Big-scope observing without leaving home

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Tuesday, February 24, 2009

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.

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