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.
A student article submitted to the Variable Stars South (VSS) periodical highlights work undertaken by a group of year 10 girls at Iona Presentation College measuring the brightness changes of short period variable stars.
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.
Sean Liddelow (UWA Physics) snapped a confirmation image of this magnitude 14 type IIb supernova in the famous and peculiar galaxy NGC 5128. Sean’s image was acquired on midnight, February 10 using SPIRIT II from home.
Discovery details and more information can be found here.
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.
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.
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.