AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 47. Telescopes and Education
Display, Tuesday, June 4, 2002, 10:00am-6:30pm, SW Exhibit Hall

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[47.04] Hosting the Student Telescope Network First Site

M. Rice (New Mexico Skies), S.T.M.D. Bisque (Software Bisque), R.E. Stencel (Denver Univ.)

The demonstration site for the Student Telescope Network, and for the first practical public-use Internet observatory, as powered by iBisque software, is at New Mexico Skies in southern New Mexico (www.nmskies.com). The observatory site, located approximately 14 miles northeast of the Apache Point Observatory and the Sunspot National Solar Observatory, is at 2,225 meters elevation in the southern Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico. It has very dark transparent skies, excellent weather conditions, good seeing and a high proportion of clear photometric nights. The Internet observatory pod concept includes placing multiple telescopes (as many as twelve), in each of several 32-foot roll-off roof observatories. The 14 to 16 inch aperture telescopes, mounted on accurately pointing and tracking Bisque "Paramounts" (www.bisque.com), plus KAF-1001E CCD cameras, are controlled with a browser-based sky-map GUI (patent pending) control system also developed by Software Bisque. We provide detail on the concept and its implementation. As of mid-March, 2002, the first demonstration telescope has been operating nightly for about 60 days. Over 420 users have registered on the telescope server, more than 2,000 images have been taken and their FITS files downloaded to users' computers all over the world. In this and the companion poster, we report our experiences over the period of the February-May (2002) trial period, including technical challenges and performance measures on the Internet observatory's operations. We further detail lessons learned for future development of browser-based Internet observatories for high school/college level instructional use, and lessons applicable to the use of Internet-based telescopes for serious astronomical research as well. We thank the Institute for Connecting Science Research to the Classroom for a grant to the University of Denver in support of this Internet telescope services pilot project.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to www.nmskies.com. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: nmskies@nmskies.com

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.