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Internet-of-Stars

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Quite a few years ago I bought a relatively large Meade telescope in order to gaze nearby planets and stars. Artificial light in the Helsinki metropolitan area made my initial observations quite poor, but now living in the countryside things are better, also in this sense.

I initially used just different eyepieces, but soon I wanted to take photographs with longer exposure times to be analyzed later. Dedicated camera-eyepieces of 1.3 megapixels produced some nice planetary images, but the limited resolution didn’t exactly compare with Hubble space telescope.

Today I’m able to attach my Canon EOS camera directly to the telescope, with whopping 23 megapixel resolution and 25fps video recording capabilities. The Meade tripod autotracker, while almost 10 years old, still knows the night sky and keeps the telescope pointed to the selected target, compensating for earth’s rotation. It is a nice piece of engineering.

While I still slightly regret not having built an astrodome during our house construction (it would have been a nightmare to maintain and insulate during winter) I can now fully control the telescope and camera remotely, with a single Ethernet or powered USB wire. During cold autumn this means sitting comfortably inside in our AV room while observing.

A couple of weeks ago my dear Australian friend Helen Cripps mentioned that the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project is looking for advanced data acquisition, storage and analysis capabilities. The SKA, literally, is a huge forest of radio telescopes crammed into an area of one square kilometer. This is easily petabytes of data per day, so naturally an interesting scalability challenge for BaseN.

With my amateur astronomer experience I started thinking about my own rig, and others with similar ones globally out there. Together with Meade, a camera manufacturer and a research institute, could we create a Global Array, consisting of tens of thousands of amateur telescopes, all feeding data into the same Platform?

Perhaps I’ll just heed the advice from our former head of BaseN North America Inc and just call the president of Meade. Unlike 10 years ago, we now have the global Platform to make this happen.

//Pasi

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