REMOTE OBSERVATORY PROJECT
In 2019, this initiative was announced to the members and a team of volunteers began the undertaking to make available, remotely accessible telescopes for members to use. The telescopes within these observatories, would enable members, without having to incur the huge expense of acquiring elaborate instrumentation, nor having a lot of experience, to be able to image objects from our dark-sky location at LMDSS, well away from city lights.
Two observatories are planned, equipped with two different imaging systems, catering for wide and narrow prime focus fields of view. There will be a 105mm APO refractor in one observatory and a 250mm f/4 Newtonian in the other. The 2m ScopeDomes which will house these telescopes, will be located next to the 3.5m Astrophotographic dome, East of the Astrophotographic field. Installed with remote connection capabilities, they will incorporate ZWO APS-C one shot colour (OSC) cameras and off-axis guiders. The whole observatory will be run via Voyager software, which will automate all of the routines necessary for taking astrophotographs.
The first of the 2m ScopeDome observatories should be ready by mid year, 2023, with the second coming on line around a year later. The ASV has been very lucky to obtain a number of desirable items, a 4.5m AstroDome and a 180mm AstroPhysics APO refractor. With the opportunity this entails, it has been decided to also put this up at LMDSS and have it initially available for members to look through visually. However, sometime in the future, it is planned to have this instrument remotely accessible too, so members can enjoy the images that a first class instrument can provide. It is envisaged that this instrument will have a number of cameras attached to it via a rotator, thus providing not just deep-sky images but planetary images too. There will need to be quite a lot of innovation to achieve this with the 180mm refractor, but it is hoped that within a few years time, this too will be available to members remotely.
Looking into the future, the ASV Committee will be investigating the possibility of giving members remote facilities at a site which is far darker than we currently enjoy at LMDSS. There are a number of members that are interested in permanently locating their instruments away from city lights and there are possibilities for them with an ASV facility dedicated in providing such as service. It can’t be at LMDSS as we have very few areas remaining at our current of the site. The ASV Committee and the Forward Planning Subcommittee (a committee made up of past ASV Presidents) will look at the viability of these proposals which will advance our Society to unheard of heights. We have also been approached by a University who is interested in having access to a professional observatory and scope. Such a facility is well within our capabilities as we have already undertaken a similar project with the All Abilities Observatory. In all, the future for our Society should be very bright indeed.