telescopes,

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Astronomy for All - Free Observation & Open Source Telescopes with NeoGalactics

Hello tumblr Astronomy fans! Wouldn’t if be cool if you could remote control your very own telescope for free online? My friends and I have started a space and astronomy company known as NeoGalactics.com with this goal in mind. Last weekend we created our first prototype telescope at a hacking competition - VTHacks - and won first prize. We made this telescope for you! You can sign up for the alpha of our free service at NeoGalactics.com and even donate to our cause - we want astronomy for all! 

We call our prototype the Elon 1.0 - Even though it is only a rough prototype, it already has some amazing features:

  • You can view live streams of the moon (as seen above), comets, stars, or planets from a web browser
  • You can take time lapse images of astronomical objects - such as nebulae or planets
  • The small telescope is powerful enough to image the moons of jupiter - as seen in the image above - and the rings of saturn 
  • the entire system is remote operational
  • As we begin building larger models, even more features will become available! 

It is important to note that this is our very first attempt and we built all of this in 2 nights for less than 140$ . With your help we can begin building an even better and cheaper model, if you visit our website at NeoGalactics.com you can sign up for free astronomical web-streams and even donate to our cause - We want to make astronomy easily accessible by everyone! What are you waiting for? Sign up for free astronomy at NeoGalactics.com!

p.s. Stay tuned for our kickstarter! - We want to make astronomy for all a reality! 

Photos: Sharpest Views of the Cosmos Ever


Astronomers have built a new astro-camera that, when fitted onto the largest observatories on Earth, can snap photos of the universe twice as sharp as the famed Hubble Space Telescope.

With the newly developed technology, giant telescopes can reach their theoretical limits of resolution in visible light —something that was just not possible, until now, because of atmospheric turbulence causing blurry visible light images. (Related: The Largest Baby Star, Ever?)

“It was very exciting to see this new camera make the night sky look sharper than has ever before been possible,” said Laird Close, the project’s principal scientist at the University of Arizona in a press statement.

Called Adaptive Secondary Mirror (ASM), this new imaging technology sits high above the primary mirror of the telescope, working to counter the atmospheric turbulence by changing the shape of its thin curved glass mirror 1,000 times each second.

“As a result, we can see the visible sky more clearly than ever before,” said Close. “It’s almost like having a telescope with a 21-foot mirror in space.”

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The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is a telescope operated by the European Southern Observatory on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The VLT consists of four individual telescopes, each with a primary mirror 8.2 m across, which are generally used separately but can be used together to achieve very high angular resolution. The four separate optical telescopes are known as Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun, which are all words for astronomical objects in the Mapuche language. The telescopes form an array which is complemented by four movable Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) of 1.8 m aperture. (Wikipedia)

Have you ever wondered what’s it like to be inside these telescopes? DeepSkyVideos on YouTube gives us very informative video walkthroughs for all four telescopes: UT-4UT-3UT-1, and UT-2.

(Image and footage credits: ESO VLT Page, SpaceRip)

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Remote Operated Telescopes by Spacey.io!

The Largest and most function 3D printed remote telescopes in the world!

Are you interested in remote operated telescopes? I’m really excited to announce that the Spacey Science start-up is moving into its alpha phase! If you want to sign up for early access to remote operated telescopes sign up at http://spacey.io!

Spacey Sciences specializes in providing end-users with a network of innovative, accessible, and customization remote telescopes that are easy to operate. Our product provides a unique astronomy experience by connecting the explorations of astronomy enthusiasts and fostering their collaboration. Check out http://spacey.io!

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Update on the Bright New Nova Delphini 2013

Since showing itself on August 14, 2013, a bright nova in the constellation Delphinus — now officially named Nova Delphini 2013 — has brightened even more. As of this writing, the nova is at magnitude 4.4 to 4.5, meaning that for the first time in years, there is a nova visible to the naked eye — if you have a dark enough sky. Even better, use binoculars or a telescope to see this “new star” in the sky.

The nova was discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Koichi Itagak. When first spotted, it was at about magnitude 6, but has since brightened. Here’s the light curve of the nova from the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers) and they’ve also provided a binocular sequence chart, too.

How and where to see the new nova? Above is a great graphic showing exactly where to look in the sky. Additionally, we’ve got some great shots from Universe Today readers around the world who have managed to capture stunning shots of Nova Delpini 2013

The new nova is located in Delphinus alongside the familiar Summer Triangle outlined by Deneb, Vega and Altair. This may shows the sky looking high in the south for mid-northern latitudes around 10 p.m. local time in mid-August. The new object is ideally placed for viewing. Stellarium

How to View the Nova

The Virtual Star Party team, led by UT’s publisher Fraser Cain, will try to get a view during the next VSP, aSunday night on Google+ — usually at this time of year, about 10 pm EDT/0200 UTC on Monday mornings. If you’d like a notification for when it’s happening, make sure you subscribe to the Universe Today channel on YouTube.

The Virtual Telescope Project, based in Italy, will have an online observing session on August 19, 2013 at 20:00 UTC, and you can join astronomer Gianluca Masi at this link.

The Slooh online telescope had an observing session yesterday (which you can see here), and we’ll post an update if they plan any additional viewing sessions.



Universe Today

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The Astronomical Machines of the Desert

Deep in the Atacama desert of northern Chile, where there is little life, metal machines gaze endlessly into the universe. These great machines work together seamlessly to give humanity a better understanding of the cosmos. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (known as ALMA) is an astronomical interferometer of radio telescopes in the Atacama desert of northern Chile.

These telescopes are not the kind that you can easily look into, they are radio telescopes. This means that they are able to see light past the visible spectrum and probe into a rare part of space that we could not usually see.

But why, you may ask, are we placing radio telescopes on earth? One reason is that they are not effected by our atmosphere. These specialized telescopes allow for the observation of energetic objects such as pulsars and quasars.

After the telescopes gather data, it must be stored. This is done with a super computer known as the ALMA correlator, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. The full system has four identical quadrants, with over 134 million processors, performing up to 17 quadrillion operations per second.

All of this advanced technology allows ALMA to produce images such as these:


Credit: ESO/Berkley/ALMA

The Comet and the Laser

Gerhard Hüdepohl captured this spectacular image of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) during the testing of a new laser for the VLT 14 February 2013. It will be used as a vital part of the Laser Guide Star Facility (LGSF), which allows astronomers to correct for most of the disturbances caused by the constant movement of the atmosphere in order to create much sharper images. Nevertheless, is hard not to think of it as a futuristic laser cannon being pointed towards some kind of distant space invader.

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A New Era for Ground-Based Optical Astronomy - How These Sharp Space Pictures Were Snapped From A Ground Telescope

Rise above Earth with a telescope, and one huge obstacle to astronomy is removed: the atmosphere. We love breathing that oxygen-nitrogen mix, but it’s sure not fun to peer through it. Ground-based telescopes have to deal with air turbulence and other side effects of the air we need to breathe.

Enter adaptive optics — laser-based systems that can track the distortions in the air and tell computers in powerful telescopes how to flex their mirrors. That sparkling picture above came due to a new system at the Gemini South telescope in Chile.

It’s one of only a handful pictures released, but astronomers are already rolling out the superlatives.

“GeMS sets the new cool in adaptive optics,” stated Tim Davidge, an astronomer at Canada’s Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

“It opens up all sorts of exciting science possibilities for Gemini, while also demonstrating technology that is essential for the next generation of ground-based mega-telescopes. With GeMS we are entering a radically new, and awesome, era for ground-based optical astronomy.”

Other telescopes have adaptive optics, but the Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics System (GEMS) has some changes to what’s already used.

It uses a technique called “multi-conjugate adaptive optics”. This increases the possible size of sky swaths the telescope can image, while also giving a sharp view across the entire field. According to the observatory, the new system makes Gemini’s eight-meter mirror 10 to 20 times more efficient.

The next step will be seeing what kind of science Gemini can produce from the ground with this laser system. Some possible directions include supernova research, star populations in galaxies outside of the Milky Way, and studying more detail in planetary nebulae — the remnants of low- and medium-mass star.

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Maria Mitchell - Scientist of the Day

Maria Mitchell, an American astronomer, was born Aug. 1, 1818, in Nantucket. Mitchell was the first professional woman astronomer in the United States and a role model for generations of aspiring women scientists. She was trained by her father, a school-teacher, and had the extreme good fortune to discover a comet in 1847. Not only was she the first to see the comet, she also had the mathematical skill to calculate its orbit. Her feat won her an international gold medal from the Danish government, the first such recognition for any American woman, and eventually, the professorship of astronomy at Vassar College, also the first such position for any woman. (It is probably of interest to some of this reading audience that, before she became famous, Mitchell spent 17 years as a librarian on Nantucket.) Mitchell was admitted to various male bastions, such as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston (the only woman so honored until the 20th century), but she decided early on that, instead of trying to show men that women could be good scientists, she would spend her life showing young women that they could be good scientists. She seems to have done a superb job at this task, becoming a legendary teacher at Vassar. Antonia Maury, a noted astronomer at Harvard, was one of her pupils. The lovely albumen print portrait of Maria above is at Harvard.

In 1863, Matthew Vassar, the founder of Vassar College, personally commissioned a telescope for Mitchell from Henry Fitz, a well-known New York telescope builder. With a lense 12 inches in diameter, it was second among American telescopes only to the great refractor at Harvard (see second image above). The telescope is now in the National Museum of American History in Washington. Vassar also built an observatory for Maria; a period photo can be seen above, just below the Fitz refractor.

The small telescope that Mitchell used to discover the Nantucket comet is now mounted in her childhood home on Vestal Street (see last photo above), across from the headquarters of the Maria Mitchell Association, the group her descendants founded in 1908 to continue Mitchell’s lifelong passion for the natural sciences and science education.

Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City