Abstract Details

Title: Sierra Stars Observatory Network: An Accessible Global Network

Authors: Edward Beshore And Richard Williams

Institute/Affiliation: Sierra Stars Observatory Network

Abstract Type: talk

Abstract Information:

The Sierra Stars Observatory Network (SSON) is a unique partnership among professional observatories that provides its users with affordable high-quality calibrated image data. SSON comprises observatories in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere and is in the process of expanding to a truly global network capable of covering the entire sky 24 hours a day in the near future.

The goal of SSON is to serve the needs of science-based projects and programs. Colleges, universities, institutions, and individuals use SSON for their education and research projects. The mission of SSON is to promote and expand the use of its facilities among the thousands of colleges and schools worldwide that do not have access to professional-quality automated observatory systems to use for astronomy education and research. With appropriate leadership and guidance educators can use SSON to help teach astronomy and do meaningful scientific projects. The relatively small cost of using SSON for this type of work makes it affordable and accessible for educators to start using immediately.

The synoptic and transient surveys (PanStarrs, CRTS, PTF, and LSST) offer a huge opportunity for supporting observatories to leverage the resulting discoveries and data to do meaningful and even potentially ground-breaking work. Starting in October 2010 through its affiliation with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) SSON began doing NEO and main belt asteroid follow-up work for IASC on data supplied to them for analysis from the PanStarrs project. SSON plans to actively interact with and collaborate with these survey systems and other ground-based observatories to offer support and to give SSON users opportunities to advance astronomical science.

Remote observatory services like SSON need to evolve to better support education and research initiatives of colleges, institutions and individual investigators. To meet these needs SSON is actively developing a sophisticated interactive scheduling system to integrate among the nodes of the observatory network enabling dynamic interaction including immediate priority interrupts, acquiring moving objects using ephemeris data, and more.

We briefly describe how SSON works and the typical demographics of its users. The main discussion describes how and why the SSON model is an excellent affordable and flexible method to make professional observatory systems available to anyone with an idea or the inclination to do meaningful scientific astronomy investigations.