Today I had the chance to quiz my friends Fraser and Vanessa about the Faulkes Telescope. Faulkes is actually two scopes – one Northern one Southern – which are robotic. They can be controlled by various groups around the world who might oherwise not have access to such technology. One such portion of the population are schools. Schools are able to sign up – for free – to Faulkes to observe in half hour session, anything they like. The telescopes are controlled via the internet from the classroom and via a webcam you can see Faulkes moving around as it follows your commands to go and see different objects in the sky.
In British schools the time difference to Hawaii makes for great timing. From 9am to 3pm the telescope is usable, weather permitting, live via the web.
This image of part of the Eagle Nebula (M16) was taken by students at Highgate School. It shows some foreground stars and then the stellar nursery within the tendril like fingers of the Eagle.
Although I cannot use the telescope myself – I am not a school – I am able to access the archived public data and thought it was all so interesting that I would blog it. Well done Faulkes, this is certainly a project I would have died to try out when I was at school and I hope it well used. There are some excellent pictures in the archives and you can find some of the best over at www.faulkes-telescope.com or my own picks at www.flickr.com/photos/ttfnrob.