Siding Spring Observatory Site Grand Opening!


Almost 2 years ago, iTelescope.Net Managing Director, Brad Moore and Observatory Manager Pete Poulos, began looking for a new Southern Home for iTelescope.Net (then called Global Rent-A-Scope).  Before beginning the search, he drew up a list of necessary conditions for the new site, to ensure that it would be the best possible location for viewing the South Skies.

The Location had to have the Best Dark Skies for maximum imaging potential, High Speed communications to ensure reliable, rapid, and accurate transfer of your data.  We wanted High Elevation, to push you ever closer to the night sky.  We wanted high clear night statistics, ensuring the availability of the systems.  Best local seeing conditions and clear horizons, to further reduce noise and light pollution interfering with your projects.  We wanted to ensure it was a secure environment, so your data and the telescopes systems will be unharmed.  We also wanted to ensure that there was on site housing for our Observatory Manager, Pete, so we will always have someone on the ground to fix unexpected issues that pop up.
Over the next few months, many candidate sites were examined and rejected, failing to meet the criteria.  We tried locations such as the outskirts of Canberra, Toowoomba in Queensland, and even other locations near our old site at Moorook, South Australia.  None of them fit the requirements we had for the perfect site.
Then, after many exchanged emails, a trip to Mount Woorut in the Warrumbungle Mountains near Coonabarabran changed everything.  Pete Poulos, our Observatory Manager, had finally found what we were looking for when we entered the home of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA) of the Australian National University (ANU).  We had found Siding Spring Observatory.

On the 25th of October 2011, the ANU and iTelescope.Net reached an agreement for the construction of it's new Southern Observatory Site at Siding Spring Observatory.  Once the agreement was made, plans were quickly underway to establish the best possible remote astronomy site we could create.  

Now, after months of preparation, construction, and optimization, the iTelescope.Net Southern Observatory is open!  We have a short video going over all the details of the new site, and the history of Siding Spring Observatory here:

As part of this grand opening, we wanted to take a few moments to tell you all about the telescope systems at the site, show you around the Siding Spring Observatory, give the details on our Grand Opening Promotion, and show you a glimpse of the future of iTelescope.Net.  So without further delay, we present the Telescopes of iTelescope.Net's Southern Hemisphere Observatory!

The iTelescopes

T9 is a Medium Deep Field RCOS 12.5” Ritchey-Chrétian Casserain on a Paramount PME.  It has an FOV of 18.5 x 27.5 arc-mins and is equipped with an SBIG STL-11000M CCD with LRGB, Ha, Oiii, SII, and V filters.  For full system specs, check here.



T12 is a Very Wide Field Takahashi FSQ ED Petzval Apochromat Astrograph on a Paramount PME.  It has an FOV of 155.8 x 233.7 arc-mins and is equipped with an SBIG STL-11000M CCD with LRGB, Ha, SII, and OIII filters.  For full system specs, check here.

T13 is a Wide Field Takahashi SKY90 Apochromatic Refractor on a Paramount PME.  It has an FOV of 60.5 x 80.7 arc-mins and is equipped with an SBIG ST2000XMC Single Shot Color CCD.  For full system specs, check here.


T30 is a Deep Field Planewave 20" CDK Corrected Dall-Kirkham Astrograph on a Planewave Ascension 200HR.  It has an FOV of 27.8 x 41.6 arc-mins and comes equipped with an FLI-PL6303E CCD with L, R, G, B, Ha, SII, OIII, U, B, V, R, and I Filters.  For full systems specs, check here.

All of these are available now with T8, T17, and T31 available in the coming months.  You can also check out the new Siding Spring Weather Page as well!

Grand Opening Celebration!

As part of the Grand Opening of our Siding Spring Observatory Site, we wanted to celebrate with you, our customers!  To that end, we are going to be running the SSO Grand Opening Promotion!  From Today until January 31, 2013, if you upgrade your account, we will double your points!.

In order to take part, first log in to the Launchpad, then click the View Plans buttons shown here:

Next, you will see this screen.  Enter SSOGO into the Promo Code area circled in red on the image below.  With this promotion, you will receive double your first months points in addition to the plans normal monthly points.  (EX:  If you upgrade to Plan-90, you will receive 90 points for upgrading plus an additional 90 points for the promotion for a total of 180 points the first month.  Every month after would be 90 points)

We hope you will take advantage of this promotion by January 31, 2013!.  Join us in celebrating the Grand Opening of our Siding Spring Observatory Site!


Osiris Re-X Update!

Artist concept of OSIRIS-REx. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

We are now official partners of the OSIRIS-REx Target Asteroids Mission!  We are extremely happy to be a part of such an a ground breaking project and it's amazing team!  

With that being said, we also wanted to give you a quick update about some new targets in the project.  Any images you may have of 2012 QG42 can be uploaded via the instructions here.

Three new near-Earth asteroids have also been added for the December - March time frame:  2012 WK4, 2012 XS93 and 2012 XD112 are now all on the list.  For a complete list of the December - March  Targets, please check here.  

LIVE Qatar-1b Exo-Planet Transit for #deSTEMber

by Peter Lake

Wow, wow, wow.

Its bad enough working with 300-400 people looking over your shoulder, but trying to capture an exo-planet transit that actually happened 448 years before you were born, on a telescope on the other side of the planet, for an education event that is supposed to encourage young girls to connect with science (not scare them away) - very nerve racking!!!!

Anyway we did it, in a world first a live Google Plus "hang out on air" the Qatar-1b transit was broadcast live for two hours to an enthralled audience. +Girlstart and #deSTEMber had organised a month of science activities to look at the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum with the aim of encouraging a wide and diverse range of science activities to encourage young girls to pursue science. I hope we didn't scare them off!

Using the extensive Google Plus expertise now building up out of the +Virtual Star Parties pioneered by Fraser Cain the editor of Universe Today and Dr Pamela Gay from Cosmoquest and Astronomy Cast, I teamed up with our own iTelescope member Shahrin Ahmad and Scott Lewis (Production Manager). Scott did a magnificent job pulling together some awesome graphics of what was going on with our little metal rich K class parent star.

Joining us was Tamara Hudgins an Educator from Texas and specialist in STEM and one of the Leaders of Girlstart.

Well we nailed it, there were a couple of little glitches, but all in all, considering what we were attempting, live and no second chances - it was awesome.

Here is the data from the session the light curve capture both ingress and egress, with a transit time of 88 mins, a mid time of 2456269.607 (HJD) and a depth of 21 milli-magnitude.

Grab a glass of your preferred beverage and watch the replay of this enthralling event - a world first!

Of course the all sky camera didn't want to be outdone and put on this spectacular meteor for us.

Member Showcase:  Special Edition!

This month brought such a large quantity of amazing images, that we have decided to have a special Grand Opening Celebration Edition of the Customer Showcase.

Instead of just one winner, we have FOUR!  This month we are featuring Noburu Yamamoto, Don Curry, Rolando Ligustri, and Andrew Carruth.  They represent all fields of iTelescope Members, from Veteran Members to two of our Newest Members, and each one have done amazing things with the Systems!

To celebrate their accomplishments and the Grand Opening of the new site at Siding Spring, each of them have won 100 points for iTelescope!

Enjoy these breathtaking submissions:

The first two are submissions from Noboru Yamamoto.  The first is of VDB31, the second of NGC1579, and both are the work of a master!

This amazing VDB31 was captured on T11 with 30x3 min Luminance (1x1).  7x3 min of Red, Green, and Blue (2x2).  It was processed using MaxIm, CCDStack, PixInsight, and Photoshop CS5.  Absolutely amazing!

This fantastic NGC 1579 took our breath away.  Captured on T21 with 28x5 min of Luminance (1x1) and 8x5 of Red, Green and Blue (2x2).   It was processed using MaxIm, CCDSTack, PixInsight, and Photoshop CS5.  We got lost for hours in this image, so many amazing features!


The Next Showcase is one of our newest members, Don Curry.  This amazing M31 not only captured the Andromeda Galaxy but got a nice shot of it's dwarf spheroidal satellite galaxy, Messier 110.  

This fantastic M31 and M110 shot was captured on T20 on December 2, 2012.  It consists of one 5 minute exposure that was then processed with MaxImDL5, PhotoshopCS6, and Carboni Tools.  Very nice shot of the Largest Galaxy in our Local Group!

The next showcase is from long time member, Rolando Ligustri.  It contains so many galaxies, it's hard to name them all!  The most prominent features of this amazing shot from the constellation Pegasus are NGC 7331 and it's group (top right) as well as Stephan's Quintet (lower left), a group of five galaxies in which four of them are in the midst of a violent collision.

This amazing NGC7331 with Stephan's Quintet was shot on T7.  It consists of 2x5min Luminance and 1x2min of Red, Green and Blue, all bin 2x2.  Another amazing shot from Rolando!

Finally we showcase another of our newer members, Andrew Carruth.  Andrew captured this absolutely stunning shot of M42, M43, and NGC 1977 - The Running Man.  He framed this using T16, the system with the second largest FOV on our network, at 116 x 78 arcmin.  (only T14 and it's twin T12 have higher at 233 x 160 arcmin).

This amazing shot of M42 and it's surrounding nebulosity was captured on T16.  It consists of 3x5min of Luminance, 2x5min of Red, Visual, and Blue, and 2x5min of Ha.  It was processed using Registax and Photoshop.  The framing of this image is beyond spectacular!  It's a wonderful thing being able to see M42, M43 and the Running Man all together like this!


Next Month's Showcase: Pick Your Target Contest

With our Siding Spring Observatory Site finally open, it is time to introduce you to the Southern Skies!  This month we would like to see your Southern Sky images (although we will accept any for the contest)  As always, you, our members, will pick the winner each month!  To take part in the contest, all you need to do is post your image on our Facebook page or our join the iTelescope.Net Group on Facebook, and post there.(please include which telescope, the number of exposures, filter used during exposures, how long each exposure lasted, and the tools used to process the image).  The deadline for submissions is January 31st, 2013.

NASA APOD Winner - Keyhole Nebula in Mapped Color by Brad Moore on T8
Then you, our members, will vote on each Astrophotographic or Scientific image by clicking "Like" on Facebook. On the 1st of February, we will add up who has the most "Likes" for images posted between December 16th and January 31st and they will be our winners.  First place (most "likes") will win 100 points on iTelescope.Net.  If there are any ties, iTelescope.Net will break the tie.  A backup will be chosen if the winner does not claim their prize when notified by email from
NASA APOD Winner - Tarantula Nebula by Brad Moore on T8
To point you in the right direction we would like to suggest some fine literature that details some of the targets of the Southern Skies:

Treasures of the Southern Sky by Robert Gendler, Lars Lindberg Christensen, and David Malin Southern Skies
Deep-Sky Companions:  Southern Gems by Stephen James O'Meara is due out in late February

Good luck and dark skies!


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