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Meeting the challenge of astrophotography

Year 9 Challenge Science students at Iona Presentation College have spent the term using SPIRIT to undertake deep sky astrophotography. Using advanced processing techniques, the students combined images taken through filters available on the SPIRIT telescopes to create stunning colour photographs and produced both printed books and eBooks to showcase their work.

The books include information from researching their targets, together with the processes they used to create the images.

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Shining star Gur

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One of SPIRIT’s long time users featured recently in UWA’s Vice-Chancellor’s Voice publication.

Gurashish Singh Bhatia first used SPIRIT as a year 10 science student at Mount Lawley Senior High School, and is now using SPIRIT as part of his third year Physics studies at UWA. Read the full article here.

Happy Birthday SPIRIT II

SPIRIT II was officially launched on September 6, 2012.

SPIRIT I and SPIRIT II continue to provide teachers and students access to research grade astronomical imaging and data collection via the internet, supported by a full life-cycle of SPICE teacher learning opportunities and student activities. In 2013 alone, 212 participants from 26 different institutions attended some 15 SPIRIT professional learning workshops at the Centre for Learning Technology.

Students from Western Australia and beyond continue to utilise SPIRIT to take stunning images of distant astronomical objects, as well as undertake ‘real science’ with these unique instruments.

Happy 2nd Birthday SPIRIT II

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Understanding the celestial sphere

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Understanding the motion of astronomical objects across the sky is important when planning an imaging session with SPIRIT. Two documents available on the Guides and documents page provide an explanation of the celestial coordinates system and target planning for objects in the skies above Perth.

A quick guide that explains the celestial coordinates system.
Celestial coordinates (PDF file, 2.1 Mb)

Fine tune your understanding of celestial motion and choose the best time to image objects of interest with SPIRIT.
Target Planning (PDF file, 3.4 Mb)

Cleaning the SPIRIT optics

Cleaning the optics of  SPIRIT telescopes requires a great deal of care. The surfaces of primary mirrors in particular are extremely delicate, and can be damaged using conventional cleaning techniques. Telescope optics should never be touched, though traditional surface cleaning techniques usually include surface contact. Washing mirrors introduces other problems such as streaking and can be difficult to undertake with telescope optics in situ. Moisture ingress at the edge of primary mirrors can also affect coatings over time.

The annual SPIRIT mirror cleaning routine includes the application of a polymer solution called First Contact that absorbs surface dust and debris. It dries as a flexible film that has minimal surface adhesion so that it can be safely removed without affecting delicate surface coatings.

The SPIRIT II primary mirror before cleaning:
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Application of First Contact polymer solution:
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Removing the cured ‘film’:
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A clean SPIRIT II primary mirror:
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