School of Physics and Astrophysics

Postgraduate research profiles


Paul Luckas

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 5548

Start date

Jun 2010

Submission date

Paul Luckas


Not just pretty pictures: The design, deployment and use of an internet accessible, robotic optical telescope for student research projects


The aim of this project is to design, deploy and determine the potential effectiveness of a moderate cost robotic observatory for education and research projects. The use of robotic telescopes in education has been demonstrated in a number of recent and relatively high profile initiatives, such as the Bradford Telescope, and Faulkes Telescope projects. While there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that these initiatives increase student enthusiasm for science, the question remains as to degree that these comparatively large and expensive instruments are effective in enabling students to easily undertake or participate in authentic research. At the same time, there has been a marked increase over the past few years, in the number of successful, comparatively low cost amateur observatories that consistently make valid contributions to science. Amateur astronomers have a long history of making contributions to astronomical research and recent innovations in off-the-shelf, robotic telescope hardware and software has increased this participation even more so. Compared with the larger initiatives, the solutions implemented by advanced amateurs are easily replicated, and offer an interesting alternative for serious research-based educational implementations. The age of the internet is upon us. That the next generation of school students will continue to be impressed by taking pretty pictures of celestial objects with on-line telescopes is dubious; that those same students will be engaged by participating in research and discovery is likely. Accomplishing this using an effectively implemented, comparatively low cost internet telescope solution is the aim of this project.

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Last updated:
Monday, 2 August, 2010 2:54 PM