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Remote Telescopes for New or Old Astrophotographers

  1. May 24, 2014 #1


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Astrophotography is a challenging hobby whose unique challenges and high upfront cost can turn many would be astrophotographers away. Instead of worrying about spending thousands of dollars, finding a good spot to image from, and dealing with setting up and tearing down equipment, another option is to try remote hosting.

    Remote hosting allows users to rent time on high-quality telescopes to take photographs of the night sky from a variety of locations. Users simply log in to the appropriate website and schedule their target object, inputting exposure times, filters to use, etc. Remote hosting companies typically offer a variety of telescopes optimized for different functions, such as low-magnification large nebulas, high-zoom for capturing detail in galaxies, and specialized filters and equipment for photometric work.

    I've personally used remote hosting before and found it fairly easy to use and much cheaper to start out with than buying your own equipment. Pricing is typically on a cost-per-minute of exposure time, so you only pay for the actual imaging time and nothing else.

    The site I've used before is: http://www.itelescope.net/

    They offer a variety of pricing options, with more expensive monthly packages having a lower cost-per-minute of exposure time. I believe they offer a new user deal that gives you a fair bit of low cost/free time. They also give you your time back if your images suffer from star trails or other technical problems.

    Anyone else used remote hosting before? What site/company did you use? What did you think about it?

    Here's a few photos I've taken using remote hosting:

  2. jcsd
  3. May 24, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    How can you be sure they do shot, and not sell images taken in the past?

    I am not saying they are cheating, just asking out of curiosity. I bet people most likely want to shot the same objects over and over again.
  4. May 24, 2014 #3


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    All the images are taken and uploaded to a file server where you can immediately download them along with flats, darks, etc. If you are online while your shoot is in progress you can see preview images of each exposure as they come in. Each exposure is set up according to the user, so even if a dozen users are shooting the same nebula, each one will most likely have different exposure times, total exposure times, and possibly even different filters. (narrowband vs wideband for example) Plus, each user processes them differently, so even a dozen different pictures of the same object will look different. In reality, this is already how the astrophotography hobby works since there are only a relatively small number of objects in the night sky. Everyone everywhere takes pictures of the same things over and over.

    As for selling images, I can't be certain that they don't, but I find it very unlikely they would sell user images. Besides, is there even a real market for those images?
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