Specializing in Remote Video Astronomy
- watch on your mobile device, computer, or bigscreen
Remote Video Astronomy (RVA) is when a video camera is attached to a telescope instead of an eyepiece and the images viewed some distance away on a monitor. You watch in near real time, using short exposures of 2 to around 20 seconds, and computer software further enhances the image on the fly.
The best cameras are said to boost telescope size two or three times. We use a 16inch telescope, add in one of these cameras and it's like looking through the eyepiece of a very big scope - more in the realm of the professional research observatories or institutions.
Developing the observatory we found that adding in planetarium type programs, webpage info and music to the mix - combining astronomy with planetarium presentations & educational info - was kind of fun. Space Engine is an interactive planetarium: a real time 3D space simulator and procedural generator that adds another dimension to what we are seeing through the telescope.
Shambhala Observatory telescopes are housed in a custom dome, and everything is PC controlled in the larger dome next door. It's a dual system: A 16-inch Meade LX600 gives a highly magnified, "deep field" view; a 5-inch Orion scope piggy-backed on the larger one gives a "wide field" view. This means we can observe a large object like the moon or Great Orion Nebula in its entirety via wide field, then switch to deep field to observe close up. Or when searching for distant or faint objects, we can compare the wide field image to the star charts to find the object, and then use the deep field setup to reveal it.
Its an exciting time for video astronomy. Only recently has all the different technology - a complex chain from telescope mirror to iphone - got to the point where these types of broadcasts are possible for the amateur on a budget.