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Online Observatory Assistance

  1. Dec 6, 2007 #1

    I am researching ways to set up an online observatory. I am not very familiar with telescopes, so I thought I would ask for the assistance of this community.

    Here are my questions currently:
    • What kind of telescope should I get? I'd like to image planets, comets, galaxies, etc.
    • What kind of imager/camera should I get?
    • What software do I need to drive the online controls? The scope will be used by a community of people, not just myself.
    • What should I consider for housing? The telescope will be left mostly unattended, and needs to be able to image the entire sky.
    • How much can I expect to pay for everything?

    I am sure I will have more questions as I go along, and would really appreciate your help. There are surely other people that would benefit from this information as well.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 6, 2007 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    You've basically told us you want a telescope that can do everything, do it well, and do it remotely. Such versatility does not come easy or cheap, as imaging systems are specialized. A camera and telescope that works well for planets is wholly unsuitable for galaxies, for example.

    If I were to design as inexpensive of a system as I can that can still do what you ask, I would expect to pay anywhere on the order of $50,000-$150,000.

    For starters, you'll need (very rough guesses):

    A good mount - $5,000-$15,000
    Two good telescopes - $3,000-$10,000 each
    Two good cameras - $2,000-$10,000 each
    Filter wheels, electronic focusers and other automation accessories - $1,000-$10,000
    A weather detection system and software - $2,000?
    A computer with a good and permanent internet connection - $1,000 + $50/month
    Observatory dome/shed - $10,000

    I suggest starting by flipping through Sky and Telescope magazine, reading reviews, learning about what it takes to make good images. For a complete novice, this is an enormous, if not impossible undertaking.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2007
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