The Good, the Bad and the Pretty!

As many of you will be aware, there have been ongoing problems with the camera on FTN over the last couple of months. The usual camera broke down in early March, and as a result, the telescope was unavailable for schools to use.

Dill Faulkes, funder of the Faulkes Telescope Project, asked LCOGT to allow school users to have real-time access to the science camera, and earlier this month, the camera was up and running for all to use.

The new camera on FTN has a slightly larger field of view than the previous camera (approx 10.36 arcmin x 10.22 arcmin instead of 4.6 arcmin x 4.6 arcmin) and as you can see below in the images of M8 and M21 taken by the Colaiste Chriost Ri school in Ireland, some of them are truly spectacular!

M8_colour.jpg M21_colour.jpgM16_bigFov.jpg

The images of many objects which are familiar to FT users, such as M16 (the image here taken by Newcastle-Under-Lyme school), are greatly enhanced by this larger field of view, since more of the surrounding area can be imaged.

There are still some issues with horizontal stripes running across images, but we’re hoping that this will be resolved in the near future. In the meantime, if the images above have inspired you to get onto the telescopes and take some images, we have plenty of observing tips and project ideas on our education portal here.

One tip which we would like to stress to all users (whether on FTN or FTS) is that we don’t recommend that you use the telescopes to image bright stars or planets. As you can see in the following images, even a 30s exposure of a bright star (in this case, Spica) or a 3s exposure of Saturn is too long and can potentially damage the camera. For advice on exposure times and what sort of objects are best observed with the telescopes, you can go to the advice pages on the education portal here.

Happy observing!