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Session 33 - Amateurs & Professionals: Collaborators in the New Age of Electronic Astronomy - II.
Oral session, Tuesday, June 10
North Main Hall C/D,

[33.07] Astronomical Research with the MicroObservatory Net

K. Brecher (Boston U.), P. Sadler, R. Gould, S. Leiker, P. Antonucci, F. Deutsch (CFA)

We have developed a fully integrated automated astronomical telescope system which combines the imaging power of a cooled CCD, with a self-contained and weatherized 15 cm reflecting optical telescope and mount. The MicroObservatory Net consists of five of these telescopes. They are currently being deployed around the world at widely distributed longitudes. Remote access to the MicroObservatories over the Internet has now been implemented. Software for computer control, pointing, focusing, filter selection as well as pattern recognition have all been developed as part of the project. The telescopes can be controlled in real time or in delay mode, from a Macintosh, PC or other computer using Web-based software. The Internet address of the telescopes is In the real-time mode, individuals have access to all of the telescope control functions without the need for an “on-site” operator. Users can sign up for a specific period of ti me. In the batch mode, users can submit requests for delayed telescope observations. After a MicroObservatory completes a job, the user is automatically notified by e-mail that the image is available for viewing and downloading from the Web site.

The telescopes were designed for classroom instruction, as well as for use by students and amateur astronomers for original scientific research projects. We are currently examining a variety of technical and educational questions about the use of the telescopes including: What are the best approaches to scheduling real-time versus batch mode observations? (2) What criteria should be used for allocating telescope time? (3) With deployment of more than one telescope, is it advantageous for each telescope to be used for just one type of observation, i.e., some for photometric use, others for imaging? And (4) What are the most valuable applications of the MicroObservatories in astronomical research?

Support for the MicroObservatory Net has been provided by the NSF, Apple Computer, Inc. and Kodak, Inc.

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