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Bringing the Universe to Classrooms
and Homes around the World!

Saturday, January 8, 2022

New Affiliate Remote Telescopes on Starbase

We are excited to introduce three affiliate remote telescopes added to Insight Observatory's image set repository, Starbase

The first two are an AG Optical 10" truss iDK (AFIL-1) located at Gemini Observatory and a Skyrover 130 APO Pro (AFIL-2) located at Yunling Observatory, China. These two imaging systems are owned and operated by Alpha Zhang.

Heart of the Rosette Nebula (NGC 2244) - Imaged data acquired and processed by Alpha Zhang combining image data from image sets on both AFIL-1 and AFIL-2. Both image sets are available on Starbase for purchase.
Heart of the Rosette Nebula (NGC 2244) - Imaged data acquired and processed by Alpha Zhang combining image data from image sets on both AFIL-1 and AFIL-2. Both image sets are available on Starbase for purchase. 

The Heart of the Rosette Nebula (also known as Caldwell 49) is an H II region located near one end of a giant molecular cloud in the Monoceros region of the Milky Way Galaxy. The open cluster NGC 2244 (Caldwell 50) is closely associated with the nebulosity, the stars of the cluster having been formed from the nebula's matter.

The third telescope is a Veloce 200 RH f/3 in Hakos, Namibia (AFIL-5). This remote imaging system has been on our remote telescope network for over a year now offering services on our Personal Image Request (PIR), Basic Image Request (BIR), and the Advanced Imaging Request (AIR) online applications. The BIR and AIR are available via the ATEO Portal. AFIL-5 is owned and operated by Lukas Demetz from SkyGems Observatories.



C/2021 A1 Leonard 3x1 mosaic taken from Insight Observatory’s affiliate remote telescope AFIL-5, Veloce 200 RH f/3 in Namibia, on December 30, 2021. 35 minutes of image data acquired by Lukas Demetz and processed by Michael Lewis. Image set available on Starbase for purchase.
C/2021 A1 Leonard 3x1 mosaic taken from Insight Observatory’s affiliate remote telescope AFIL-5, Veloce 200 RH f/3 in Namibia, on December 30, 2021. 35 minutes of image data acquired by Lukas Demetz and processed by Michael Lewis. Image set available on Starbase for purchase.

C/2021 A1 (Leonard) is an inbound long-period comet discovered by G. J. Leonard at the Mount Lemmon Observatory on 3 January 2021 when the comet was 5 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun. This was the first comet discovered in 2021 and it has a retrograde orbit.



AFIL-1: AG10 CDK f/6.7 f=1665mm (left), AFIL-2: SkyRover 130 APO Pro f/7 f=910mm (upper right), and AFIL-5: Officina Stellare Veloce 200mm f/3 Astrograph (lower left).
AFIL-1: AG10 CDK f/6.7 f=1665mm (left), AFIL-2: SkyRover 130 APO Pro f/7 f=910mm (upper right), and AFIL-5: Officina Stellare Veloce 200mm f/3 Astrograph (lower left).

Starbase is a repository of image data captured by the Astronomical Telescopes for Educational Outreach (ATEO) and our affiliate remote telescopes (AFIL), organized by the image target into image “sets”. These image sets can be purchased (referred to as “subscribing” to the image set) and downloaded. All proceeds from Starbase subscriptions go towards funding our educational outreach programs.


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Saturday, December 4, 2021

5th-Grade Students Research Nebulae with ATEO-1

Insight Observatory had the pleasure of providing its remote telescope services once again this school year with Ms. Christine DeSantis' 5th-grade students at Plymouth South Elementary School, Plymouth, MA. The students specifically accessed the 16" f/3.7 astrograph reflector (ATEO-1) remotely from their classroom using the Educational Image Request (EIR) from their Chromebooks.

A 5th-grade student in Ms. DeSantis's class at Plymouth South Elementary School studies her image taken with ATEO-1 of the NGC 2073, The Iris Nebula on her classroom assigned Chromebook.
A 5th-grade student in Ms. DeSantis' class at Plymouth South Elementary School studies her image taken with ATEO-1 of the NGC 2073, The Iris Nebula on her classroom assigned Chromebook.

Here is what Ms. DeSantis said regarding her class utilizing ATEO-1 for their classroom project...

"Learning about deep space objects and how they are photographed was an exciting and motivating experience for my fifth graders! This project related well to two science units: matter and energy and the solar system. Students were able to extend their knowledge of the elements and discovered why dust and gasses are able to glow when energized by a nearby energy source and how this results in spectacular nebulae. Before the image requests were put in, the students researched three types of nebulae.

As they proceeded to put in the requests they discovered that certain nebulae may or may not be visible at various times of the year. They reviewed phases of the moon and became aware that deep space photography works best during the new moon and also learned why the location of the telescope is important.

After their images were processed, the students compared the images from Insight Observatory to Hubble photographs. Next, they created a slideshow to demonstrate comprehension of all the concepts including adding details about their chosen image: the type of nebula, its age, distance from Earth, and distance across (size). This is a wonderfully thought-provoking and exciting way to learn about some complicated and abstract concepts. We are so grateful to have been able to participate in this project!"




NGC 2244 - The Rosette Nebula (left), NGC 7293 - The Helix Nebula (upper right), and M42 - The Orion Nebula (bottom right) all imaged by 5th-grade students in Ms. Desantis' class using remote telescope ATEO-1.
NGC 2244 - The Rosette Nebula (left), NGC 7293 - The Helix Nebula (upper right), and M42 - The Orion Nebula (bottom right) all imaged by 5th-grade students in Ms. Desantis' class using remote telescope ATEO-1.

Insight Observatory would like to thank Ms. DeSantis for once again collaborating with us. If you are an educator and interested in participating in a classroom project utilizing Insight Observatory's remote telescope services via our online Educational Image Request (EIR), please contact us.

We would also like to thank all of Insight Observatory's loyal remote imagers and Patreon patrons for their ongoing support that allows Insight Observatory to provide remote telescope services for educational purposes.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

In A Galaxy, Very, Very Far Away...

Just, beyond a galaxy - far, far away....lie, two other galaxies, in a galaxy group that, the three - have all to themselves. The little group is called the "Leo Triplet" but it is actually likely part of a larger group of galaxies called the "Leo-I" ('Leo One') group.

Moreover, like most things 'cosmological', the connections don't end there: gas-streamer bridges connecting one galaxy or group of galaxies to another group - ultimately, ending in "super-clusters"; i.e., a cluster of clusters of galaxies - the largest, single structures in the universe!

The proximity of the Leo Triplet puts it roughly between our own "Local Group" of galaxies and the Leo-I group; "galaxy-group neighbors", so to speak - or numerically: only, around 30-35mly (million light-years) distant. How far away is that? Well, about 300 times the diameter of the Milky Way galaxy, which is ~120kly (~120,000ly), across.

The "Leo Triplet" consists of galaxies NGC 3628 (left), M65 (upper right), and M66 (lower right). Image provided by the author using Insight Observatory's 16" f/3.7 astrograph reflector, ATEO-1.
The "Leo Triplet" consists of galaxies NGC 3628 (left), M65 (upper right), and M66 (lower right). Image provided by the author using Insight Observatory's 16" f/3.7 astrograph reflector, ATEO-1.
  
This tiny distant galaxy group features two spiral galaxies M-65 and M-66 discovered by French amateur astronomer Charles Messier; a comet-hunter by avocation. He tallied a list of small, dim objects in the night sky that appeared to be comets but he soon found we're not as they didn't move from their positions over long periods of time. They were permanent entities. He kept this list only to avoid these objects in future comet searches which he performed in the years around 1773.


The third galaxy, NGC-3628, another spiral saw edge-on; that is inclined 90° from our galactic perspective was discovered by German sister, and brother amateur astronomers William and Caroline Herschel back in the middle 1800s.

M-65, is a 'barless spiral, at 35mly. It is slightly warped, and, there has been some recent star birth activity in one of its gaseous H-II regions.

Of the three M-66 is closest at 31mly with a diameter of about 95kly. It is the brightest of the three but it is missing a large portion of one of its spiral arms. The missing mass from that arm was gravitationally removed by one or both of the other galaxies in the trio.

M-66, has a weak bar feature, extending from its core and in this way is reminiscent of our own barred-spiral galaxy, the Milky Way. As of 2018 five supernovae have been observed in M-66: SN-2016cok, 2009hd, 1997bs, SN-1989B, and 1973R. SN-1989B was discovered independently by amateur astronomers Mike Petrasko and Dale Alan Bryant - one, cold, still morning in Feb of that same year.

Lastly, NGC-3628, the edge-on galaxy in this trio is also known as the "hamburger" galaxy. (Yes - it does indeed look like a "quarter-pounder" - viewed from the side!) Its disk spans 90tly and sits at 35mly away. The galaxy is composed mostly of older stars and like the other two is easily visible in amateur-class telescopes (4+ inches of aperture diameter). NGC-3628 also sports a 300tly-long, 'tidal tail', connecting the other two galaxies. It is the most distant of the three at 35mly. Its disk is around 100tly across.

Since there has been so much supernovae activity within at least one of the galaxies in this trio, I've decided it would be a good idea to begin an extra-galactic supernova search program using these three 'island universes.

So, here's the plan: take images of the three galaxies all within a single frame at some periodic interval (time-series). Using an image of the three together that is known to be "supernova-free" - I can then compare subsequent images over time to the SN-free frame using a sort of 'blink comparator.

A blink-comparator is a device that was used frequently by astronomers to compare images of the same area of sky or objects within the same field-of-view of a telescope or camera over a specified interval. It involves the rapid sequencing back-and-forth of two images - one against the other. (In the distant, remote, ancient past - (*chuckle*: 1980's), I used two Kodak carousel slide projectors one stacked on the other projecting both slides at the same time onto a screen and then using a sheet of cardboard manually to alternately project the slide images one at a time in rapid succession onto the screen.

Currently, I'll use the two images in an animated, ".GIF", file, and "blink" them, that way. In this fashion, I can set the "blink" rate, interval, for optimal comparison. In this way, any deviation from the standard field (used as a sort of, 'control group'), such as blinking spot, line, or another anomaly, will stand out as extraneous data. This was how, Dr. Clyde W. Tombaugh, discovered the dwarf planet Pluto back in 1930. I'll be looking for any supernova activity within the three galaxies.

This is something that anyone using one of Insight Observatory's, remote telescopes can do on their own! It's a good way to involve oneself self in a Citizen Science project - of their own design!

I'll let you know if I find any action! -- you let me know what you find too!!

Dale Alan Bryant
Senior Contributing Science Writer
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