Besides doing what I can for (or against :-)) There.com, one of the other things I’ve done is create a Foundation which provides access to robotic telescopes, for free, to students. We’ve had varying numbers of instruments on-line in New Mexico and Australia over the years, and have delivered as many as 10,000 hours of time to students in a year.
Our most exciting project has been the construction of an advanced 1-Meter telescope which will be, again, for student and University use. Now, a 1-meter telescope isn’t very big, but this one will be special because it will employ active optics to improve the instruments resolution. It’s a very cool project, where we get to play with optics, cameras that are cooled to far, far, below zero, and interesting mirror materials like SiO2 (silicon carbide).
It’s been a long project, and we’re not done yet, but the man who runs the foundation took a great picture of a supernova in a galaxy far, far, far away, shown above. Keep in mind this picture was taken with as-yet-imperfect optics.
You can read about the supernova’s discovery here.
This isn’t just pretty pictures – the Foundation has also contributed images and data to scientists studying these events. While many of our students have made contributions to various research projects, this is the first time the Foundation’s had time to do so.
By the way, M65 is 35 million Light Years away, which means this star exploded 35 million years ago, and we’re just seeing it now. Think about that. Oh, and if there were any planets around that star, they’re toast, or probably very tiny particles of toast – that star is 2.05747493 × 10^20 miles away and we can still see it, so it was a pretty big explosion.
In case you’re interested, here’s a picture of one of our observatories and the partially-completed 1M: