Experience and control the new PMC-Eight GOTO System and make astrophotographs from anywhere in the world, by live Internet access to the Mark Slade Remote Observatory (MSRO)
Every month during the year, on weekday and weekend evenings, remote access is scheduled, weather permitting, for individuals or groups. A typical session lasts up to 3 hours (one hour of orientation, 2 hours of telescope control and imaging time).
This experience, perfect for beginners to experienced alike, includes orientation on how to use Explore Scientific's PMC-Eight Telescope Control System on a Losmandy G11 Equatorial Mount, complete with the Telescope Drive Master for superior tracking performance. You will also learn how to use an astronomical CCD camera (choose between an SBIG with Color Filter Wheel, or a QHY-163 for high-speed planetary work).
Unlike most other remote observatory services, this is a one-on-one experience where you will actually control the telescope and the camera, and not just ask for an image to be made.
You are required to have a high-speed Internet connection, the TeamViewer remote access client (you can download for free at TeamViewer.com), and a computer with microphone and speakers. Adding a second computer during your session may enhance the experience utilizing Skype (download for free at www.skype.com).
When you buy a ticket we will send it to you and MSRO's Assistant Director, will send you instructions on contacting the Observatory for available dates that you can choose from. He will advise you on object selection and type of data that you wish to collect (astrophotographic, spectroscopic, or astrometric). Cloudy weather will not cancel your chance for observation, you will simply reschedule for a new date.
For anyone contemplating building your own remote observatory, those wanting to experience Explore Scientific's PMC-Eight System, or to give as a gift that is truly out of this world, this is the experience for you.
Director: Myron Wasiuta
Assistant Director: Jerry Hubbell
Staff Astronomer: Lauren Lennon
Location: +38 20’ 02” -77 42’39” West Longitude Altitude 300’
Minor Planet Observatory Code: W54 Wilderness Virginia
Description of Facility:
The Mark Slade Remote Observatory, managed by the MSRO Commission, is an astronomical observatory made possible by a generous donation from the estate of Mark Slade, the Rappahannock Astronomy Club, and from donations of private individuals in the Fredericksburg, Virginia region. Its mission is to serve as both a training and research facility for anyone interested in astronomy and astronomical research, and is available for use by members of the Rappahannock Astronomy Club, high-school and college students, and members of the general public. It is operated by the MSRO Commission, which also oversees funding, coordination and approval of observation requests, and development of future mission planning. The day-to-day operations and maintenance of the observatory, scheduling of approved observation requests, and training of users are the responsibilities of the Director and Assistant Director.
The main instrument is an Explore Scientific ED152 Air-Spaced Triplet on the Explore Scientific/Losmandy G11 Equatorial Mount with the Telescope Drive Master, and a QHY-163C (one shot color) or an SBIG ST-2000 CCD Camera with Filters for imaging include luminance, red, green, blue, and a spectroscopic grating with a resolution of 11 Angstroms/pixel. Exposures up to 300 seconds are possible with control via Telescope Drive Master. Typical star images in good seeing at this exposure time have FWHM values of about 3-4 arc-seconds. With careful attention to calibration and support frames, stars to magnitude 17 can be reached. Observations are possible only between +90 to +20 degrees altitude. In addition, there are limitations to the local horizon that might further limit visibility depending on the target’s Hour Angle.
The main computer in the observatory is remotely controlled using the desktop sharing program TeamViewer V 12. Maxim DL V6.13 operates the observatory, telescope and camera. Star charting and telescope pointing is done using Cartes du Ciel connected to and controlling the PMC-Eight. MSRO also can perform spectroscopy and astrometry.
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