First light for French students with Faulkes

A group of secondary school students in France have recently begun using the Faulkes Telescopes after their teacher, Hevre Faivre successully completed an EU-HOU/GTTP Astronomy training workshop. You can read their (translated) account of their first use of the telescope below or read the account in French by clicking on the link below.

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The Astronomy Workshop at School Christiane Perceret.

First lights for the workshop with the Faulkes Telescope North of Hawaii

The Astronomy Workshop has been existing for several years within the school. More than twenty pupils work on a project on galaxies and attend planetarium sessions.

This year we were able to add a new activity to our program : the use of robotic telescopes remotely controlled. The Faulkes Telescopes Project, UK, enables schools to use 2 telescopes with a 2 meters diameter that are located all over the world.

The EUHOU (European Hands-On Universe) Association and the GTTP (Galileo Teacher Training Programme) taught us how to use such telescopes : management interface,user guides ...
Everything is in English but this has not been a problem for pupils who show a real motivation in this activity.

Last November, our porject was accepted by Dr Sarah Roberts ( Faulkes Telescopes Director of Education) and we were given a 30 minute credit to use one of their telescopes.

The adventure has really started ! We must choose a spot that will be in the night while it is midday for us. Hawaii in the North or Australia in the South. We must choose a moonless night for better views, configure our sky maps softwares and change the GPS coordinates for those of the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii, 3000 meters high.

The date is chosen : it will be on February 16th at 11:30 UT ( 12:30 local time). We are all excited and hoping that the weather will be nice and that no technical breakdown will occur. Is it often bad in Hawaii ? Are there clouds in the blue sky ?

The D-Day : Everybody is here ! Some pupils made their lunchbreak short and others even skipped it and brought a sandwich! Everything is going as expected. Some kids who had used the simulator to train are piloting: the whole group is supporting Steven, Quentin and Claire... We mustn't waste priceless seconds.

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 The first pictures arrives : downloading seems endless... Everybody is thrilled. On the big screen, here it is : unbelievable ! We can't get over it, but no time to waste : quickly we change  coordinates, time exposue, camera filters... for the next picture.
The 30 minutes go very fast. During the last seconds we'll try to take a last black and white picture with a short exposure.

This is it !  Our pictures are officially on the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescopes Network website.  We are now part of the very few French schools involved in the the project: http://lcogt.net/observations/user/5106

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We are going to  work on image processing and prepare an exhibition for our school's open day.

We have already asked for more time credits in order to carry on but meanwhile, with springtime and hopefully nice weather returning, we'll go for observations by night around Semur with the equipment that we were given, as part of the "Sciences à l'École" project, by the Paris Observatory.