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Remote "First Light" from Star Cruiser Observatory
report by Liam Kennedy - June 3rd 2002

Everyone will know the excitement and special occasion it is to see the "First Light" from your new telescope.

I have the tale of a slightly different "First Light" experience from Russ Sipes Star Cruiser observatory at our Anza site.

As you will have read from the June 2002 Presidents message and other articles, we have just installed a new Satellite Internet system at our Anza observing site. One of the early tests we wanted to perform was to verify how practical it will be to remotely operate a telescope at the site from a computer in our own home (Russell Sipe of course will be planning on operating his telescope from his home). In this test, on Saturday night of June 1st 2002, I was at home and Russ was out at Anza.

Using some special software I connected to the control computer that is sitting in the observatory and is directly attached to his telescope.

Russ has a video camera hooked up to his computer to allow him to visually check out the positioning of the telescope. This came in especially handy as I could actually see him, and the motion of the telescope as I commanded "the Sky" software to move to particular objects.

The image below is actually the "Remote First-Light" image. I used the Sky software to move the telescope to M5. Then I told the CCD Image capture software (Maxim DL) to record a 10 second exposure. Below is the resulting Image.

Click to view the full image
Not bad for a first image!
Taken from over 90 miles away from the telescope!

Flushed with success Russ and I moved the scope onto the interesting trio of galaxies in Leo, M65 M66 and NGC 3628. The following is an image capture of the entire computer screen I was working with. Top left window shows the Maxim DL Image capture program. Top right window shows The Sky software showing the place where the telescope is pointing with the relative positions of the galaxies that we are shooting. Then the lower left image shows a happy Russell Sipe giving us the Thumbs-Up for a successful test.

Click to view the full image

Russell will be testing out this facility over the next several months. Eventually he will be able to operate his observatory from his home in Anaheim without ever having to jump in his car.

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