View Full Version : Mars Opposition on the Net?

Kirok of L'Stok
2003-Aug-10, 08:33 AM
Saw Frasers' question about Mars Parties and I thought I stick my two penn'orth in.

I have been doing an Astronomy / Space Exploration thread with the science class that I run at my sons Primary School at Tahmoor (I am just your common or garden Dad) about 100kms SW of Sydney. We have been studying the coming Opposition of Mars and I was hoping we could see Mars on a telescope over the Internet. The Australian Science Week (Aug 16 - 24) is coming up as well, so We have another reason to try to catch this great opportunity!

Now, I will be making every effort to arrange to get myself and my own family behind a real telescope - there is nothing more impressive than seeing it with your own eyes! - but the chances of a night excursion for the class are nil. So my next reaction was, if you can't do a real excursion, do a Virtual Field Trip ™!

First I checked the two Web Sites that I know of that allow remote use of CCD telescopes ...

Faulkes Telescope North, Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
They had first light this month, but will not be ready for general use until the end of the month according to their latest Newsletter ...

Telescopes in Education (TIE), Mt Wilson, California
Requires specialised software that I doubt I could get the school to pay for - the odds are that this will probably be a one-off thing since I am not on the staff.

I have checked with Sydneys' Powerhouse Museum which is affiliated with the American TIE programme and they are not going to do a WebCast although they were very helpful and supportive.

So if we can't get control of a telescope ourselves, I thought for sure that an observatory somewhere in the world would be WebCasting it. I mean every eclipse is WebCast from half-a-dozen vantage points, the Mercury transit as well, but so far I have drawn a blank. :blink:

In the affluent West (if I can include Aussie in that block) we have amateur associations that make it possible for us to get to a telescope and see Mars as we will never see it again. What about other parts of the world where a village might have an Internet connection but a telescope is just a childs' daydream? South East Asia? India? Africa? South America?

How hard would it be for an observatory to put, say, the previous nights observation of Mars on their Web site? This would be easier and, I think, even more interesting than a live WebCast since it would show the developing situation. I am sure that schools in particular would appreciate this opportunity.

Thanks for the Bandwidth, Fraser
Kirok of L'Stok, Bargo, NSW, Australia
aka The EEH (Emergency Educational Hologram), Starship Bronzewing

2003-Aug-10, 11:39 AM
Hi there&#33; :) I&#39;m from Brisbane, and the Astronomical Society here is having their public field night on the 28 i think&#33; I&#39;d like to go actually&#33;

This encyclopedia that i have about the Universe had a link that said you could view the Universe through the Internet, it was www.globaltelescope.com or something like that, but it doesn&#39;t matter about the link, it didn&#39;t even work&#33; No funding for the site is what i read when i did some internet research :(

I think thats good what you&#39;re doing for your sons class&#33; We never had that in my primary school but we sure did watch a documentary on Space and had to write down notes&#33;

I also found out a while ago that there is an observatory in Brisbane&#33; But it is probably scheduled for that night or something&#33;

Sorry i wasn&#39;t of any help to you, although you should receive some better information from the other guys here :)

Kirok of L'Stok
2003-Aug-10, 02:19 PM
Ah&#33; Queensland - Beautiful one day, perfect the next&#33; B)

I was going to say that you are close to the proposed Southern Faulkes Telescope but when I checked the website ...
... I found that they are building at Siding Springs, next to the Anglo Aussie Observatory near Coonabarabran. I could have sworn they were proposing to build in Queensland ... perhaps it fell through?

The Faulkes project is the kind of thing that will put real cutting edge Astronomy in the hands of schools, to quote from their last newsletter ...
Agreement has been reached with the Minor Planet Center (MPC) in the USA that results from schools using the Faulkes Telescopes will be accepted by them as
genuine scientific data. Schools will be able to use the Faulkes Telescopes to image asteroids that pose a possible collision threat with the Earth or to image other
interesting NEOs. After performing image analysis Schools can then report
their data to the MPC who will use them to refine the orbit for the
asteroid. The MPC may also on occasion request through the FT project that
a school make an urgently needed observation of an NEO that has a
particularly worrying preliminary orbit that could bring it close to the
Earth. Schools making any observations of NEOs and reporting them to the
MPC will have their names published in the MPC electronic circulars that
are published daily.

What is special about schools using the FTs for their NEO observation work
is that they will be using two of the largest astronomical telescope
anywhere in the World that are doing this kind of work on a regular
basis. Using large telescopes will mean that FT schools can image
asteroids that are much fainter than those that can be accessible to
amateur astronomers - this puts FT schools in an enviable position.

It is also possible that in the process of making their observations
schools could also discover new asteroids. In this case, sometime in the
future, they would get the right to name their discovery&#33;

This is a dream come true, but still a little ways down the line. What I am talking about is the possibility of an observatory with an existing Web presence spending maybe 30 minutes a night making an observation of Mars and putting a jpg of it on their website each day. How hard can that be?

Or am I being niaive, uh naiive? ok dumb&#33; :(

It&#39;s freezing down here tonight&#33;

Kirok :ph34r:

2003-Aug-11, 12:48 AM
Queensland is only fun when its summer :D

Well i think that there is an observatory in a place called Mt Cootha, its like a small mountain. Thats where the Astronomical Society for Brisbane has their Public field nights. I haven&#39;t been to the observatory but would like too.

The Faulkes Project sounds fascinating&#33;&#33;&#33; :) Thats an excellent idea&#33; I just hope it starts to develop while i&#39;m still in high school ;)

You can try www.astronomydaily.com they have forums. You could ask some people there too.