I was reading a telecope magazine the other day, drooling over the super-expensive dobs that I can’t afford when I came across an article on web-based observatories. What a cool idea. So I went to Lightbuckets to check it out. Wow! I can rent time on some really big scope in the middle of the New Mexico desert, fully automated with kick-ass CCD capabilities. All for the price of a week’s worth of overpriced coffee from Starbucks.
I just had to give it a try. So I randomly picked an unremarkable globular cluster — M53 and scheduled a session. Weather permitting, the site generates all the colour filtered, dark, bias and flat files automatically and very politely emails you when its done. I even got to sleep through the night. After pumping everything through Maxim DL to pretty it up, here’s what I got. I must say that I am very impressed. I now have my very own $30K scope. Just less coffee.