In my spare time..


Besides doing what I can for (or against :-)), 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:



  1. #1 by bignbad on 2013.04.16 - 5:02 pm

    Didn’t know you were into astronomy, Michael! I’m an astronomer myself. I actually had the opportunity to spend several nights at Kitt Peak National Observatory 2 years ago, WOW! Incredible skies and facilities!

  2. #2 by Jimmy Kluding (@LegionNinja) on 2013.04.16 - 11:02 am

    This reminds me of something I found a few years ago, not sure if it’s still arround. Does anyone remember SETI @HOME?

  3. #3 by PcMan Hoverboat Pilot on 2013.04.15 - 6:21 pm

    My new desktop background, thanks!

  4. #4 by SaltySilver on 2013.04.15 - 3:15 pm

    You never cease to amaze me…. *note to self: add Micheal Wilson to the list of people, that I would like to meet, be for I die.

  5. #5 by Hoverbiker on 2013.04.14 - 4:05 pm

    Perhaps some of the very bright and talented students that go on to become astronomers might one day be peering through this . . .

  6. #6 by xSnoopy on 2013.04.14 - 3:11 pm

    “one of our observatories”. Now I am truly impressed!
    Is the Foundation planning on linking them together to form an array?

  7. #7 by NathanAvis on 2013.04.13 - 5:09 am

    ” and have delivered as many as 10,000 hours of time to students in a year.”

    I’ll wait for someone else to get the joke 😀 needless to say, you dedicating a lot of time to such a program is commendable.
    I think about space, the stars and beyond. Our future generations hopefully will do the same and have the tools to get there!

    • #8 by Michael Wilson on 2013.04.13 - 5:46 am

      “10,000 hours of observing time” – which is to say, over a year, students used telescopes for 10,000 hours over the internet.

      • #9 by NathanAvis on 2013.04.13 - 7:05 am

        Ah, now I understand.

  8. #10 by xSnoopy on 2013.04.13 - 5:02 am

    Kudos to you and the Foundation for such an impressive project.
    Perfect for the college kids. It’s pretty hard to get scope time at Mauna Kea or Paranal.
    Could you expand further on this project and any other future plans?

  9. #11 by MrScrooge on 2013.04.12 - 7:40 pm

    I love the universe. I think about it nearly every night while I lay in bed.Recently learned of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman as narrator so I watch that before bed at night so I can actually sleep instead of think of this strange existence and universe we find ourselves in. I’m glad you are helping the youth look to the skies, Michael.

    • #12 by Juli on 2013.04.13 - 1:47 am

      “The heavens declare the glory of God”

  10. #13 by coolnet560 on 2013.04.12 - 2:24 pm

    This is very inspiring for those who are interested in learning more about astrology. It’s great to learn more about our solar system and the universe. This will be beneficial for us for the future to learn more about other plants and if there’s any living environments out there.

    Thank you for sharing with us.

    • #14 by Michael Wilson on 2013.04.12 - 3:04 pm

      Ummm, it’s astronomy, not astrology. Astrology isn’t a science.

      • #15 by coolnet560 on 2013.04.12 - 9:50 pm

        Sorry, been a long day. That’s what I meant.

      • #16 by Reo on 2013.04.13 - 12:47 am

        That is such a Sagittarius thing to say.

        (Kidding. I actually know nothing about astrology)

  11. #17 by Phil Reinsmith on 2013.04.12 - 12:09 pm

    Fantastic, Great to hear that you’re involved in this type of thing. You Rock MW! “Rockinsurfer_Boy”

  12. #18 by Phil Reinsmith on 2013.04.12 - 12:08 pm

    Fantastic, Great to hear that you’re involved in this type of thing. You Rock MJ! “Rockinsurfer_Boy”

  13. #19 by Thumdar on 2013.04.12 - 11:48 am

    WTG, Michael!

  14. #20 by Mimi There on 2013.04.12 - 10:23 am

    I always wondered what you do in your “spare” time. Amazing. Thanks for giving our “future”, something to wish on.

  15. #21 by Chris on 2013.04.12 - 9:53 am


  16. #22 by Angela on 2013.04.12 - 9:11 am

    Kevin Smith, that couldn’t possibly have been a legitimate question. Let’s show the man some respect PLEASE !

  17. #23 by soede on 2013.04.12 - 8:39 am

    Very cool!!
    If Thereians show up, will we be on the telescopes VIP list? =p

    • #24 by Michael Wilson on 2013.04.12 - 8:43 am

      Unfortunately no. The instruments are only available to students through arrangements through schools.

      Since many of the instruments are hard-to-get Astro-Physics instruments, we often has non-students trying to “sneak in” as students (kind of the opposite of Of course, they’re caught, and are sentenced to cloudy skies for life. 🙂

      • #25 by Riot_Girl_1 on 2013.04.12 - 1:46 pm

        Oh cool! Maaaaybe I’ll get to peek through one day since I plan on going to school for astrophysics and earth & planetary science! 😀

  18. #26 by kevin smith on 2013.04.12 - 8:25 am

    wouldn’t it be better to get there working properly instead!

    • #27 by Michael Wilson on 2013.04.12 - 8:34 am

      First, can you be more specific about how it’s not working properly for you?

      Second, let’s see “Provide students with free access to telescopes (some of them who will never see stars since they live in the inner city) to learn about science”, or “Work on a virtual world”. Hmm. Hard choice there. Let me get back to you.

      Third, this is one of the things I do with my personal time, and money. But Thank Your For Your Input.

    • #28 by Andrew Almeida on 2013.04.12 - 5:40 pm

      That kinda makes me want to curse, but I will respect this blog. Kevin you have to be asinine? Anything at all for the betterment of society would naturally trump almost anything else you could compare it to. Yet you think a cartoon for us adults to play in when we’re bored is more important than the advancement of students in ways that are more limited than others? Oh, and it works better than it did before in my opinion. We just lack the population. It’ll grow with time, that’s the idea.

      • #29 by Ox64 on 2013.04.14 - 5:10 am

        Well at least he didn’t complain about There not being free 🙂 LOL

    • #30 by NathanAvis on 2013.04.13 - 5:12 am

      Is it possible to unread kevin smith’s comment?

    • #31 by Ox64 on 2013.04.14 - 5:14 am

      There does work properly. If it doesn’t for you, maybe you should get a friend in world to help troubleshoot your problem. It may be an easy fix 🙂

  19. #32 by MadHatterMemphis on 2013.04.12 - 7:47 am

    that is awesome.i’ve spent many a night just staring into the sky at the stars.

  20. #33 by Babs There on 2013.04.12 - 7:46 am

    Very cool.

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