A generous donation of a telescope, mount, imaging and ancillary equipment from Mr Neil Shaw and his wife Tara has expanded the ICRAR’s SPIRIT outreach initiative with a 3rd robotic telescope.
Located in UWA’s Zadko Observatory 1 hour north of Perth and with much darker skies, the first light results show an impressive improvement in image quality further increasing the potential for student research:
As with all SPIRIT telescopes, students book and then remotely access and control the instruments in ‘real time’ from their home or school computers using nothing more than a web browser.
Telescope operations are monitored by students as they happen and images appear on their screens as they are acquired. Using a customised version of ACP’s innovative web interface also provides for automated and unattended data acquisition. Advanced students and researchers can collect data ‘while they sleep’ by uploading observing plans in advance.
ICRAR & UWA acknowledged this wonderful donation from the Shaws during a small event on April 18th.
Student piloting and use of SPIRIT 3 is currently underway. More information on wider access to SPIRIT 3 will be made available in the coming months.
Donation of the ACP Observatory Control software was generously provided by DC-3 Dreams (Bob and Stephanie Denny)
Discounted hardware upgrades were generously provided by Software Bisque (Steve Bisque)
Support through the donation of additional software and hardware is also acknowledged:
Don Goldman (Astrodon)
Matt Thomas (CCD Commander)
Thomas Esmeralda (Zapsteel Custom Machine, Hawaii)
The August / September 2016 issue of Australian Sky & Telescope features another article on the SPIRIT initiative. The article can be found on our media page, or by following this link.
SPIRIT is now proudly hosted at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at The University of Western Australia. The ‘new look’ web site still provides the same information and free access to our world class, internet enabled telescopes for all educators, researchers and students in Western Australia.
Learn more about SPIRIT.
Did you know that 85% of what we know about the universe was discovered using spectroscopy?
Be the first to pilot the new SPIRIT bright star spectroscope on SPIRIT II. More information can be found in this guide.
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
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:
Application of First Contact polymer solution:
Removing the cured ‘film’:
A clean SPIRIT II primary mirror:
This time lapse movie shows automated operation of SPIRIT I from pre-dusk until dawn, condensed into a two minute sequence. The movie shows the telescope following a set of a dozen minor planets from east to west, imaging them repeatedly over the course of the entire night.
This month’s edition of Australian Sky & Telescope features an article on the SPIRIT initiative. The article details the technical aspects of the SPIRIT I telescope, outlines the history of the SPIRIT initiative and features students from Roleystone Community College during a recent visit to UWA.
Click on the photo below for a link to the article.
The SPIRIT initiative now has a Facebook and Twitter presence.
The Facebook page provides an ‘open community’ for those wishing to share information and post images. Feel free to join in if you’re already on Facebook.
The best images published on Facebook will make it to our official image gallery.
Thanks to a generous donation from the Hawaiian Property Group in Perth, the SPIRIT program has expanded with a second telescope – SPIRIT II.
The new instrument is a Planewave CDK 17″ telescope, coupled with a more sensitive CCD camera offering twice the field of view of SPIRIT I (see the ‘first light’ image of the near full moon below).
See more pictures of the SPIRIT telescopes in the image galleries.