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Coin-operated astronomical telescope

A public outreach thing
  [vote for,

Put a robotic telescope in a public park. Attach a kiosk where people can choose what things in the night sky they want to observe. (It shows on the screen what things are currently visible, or will be visible during the next night, if the user comes along during the daytime.) Charge them a small fee, payable with coins/bills/card/phone/etc., for the observation. The telescope automatically aims at the chosen object and takes photos of it. There can be a beamsplitter so that users can view the actual collected light as the observation is being done, which is likely to be somewhat more inspiring to non-astronomers than just photos. Once the photos are taken, they are displayed on the screen. The user has the option to print them out. They are also put up on a website for download, and an observation ID is given to the user to look them up by.

n/a [2019-03-11]

notexactly, Mar 11 2019


       Very cool idea. Light pollution might be a problem though.   

       True. But this isn't meant for serious astronomy, just getting people interested in it. And I live in a city and can see stars with my naked eyes every night unless it's cloudy. Furthermore, Wikipedia's article on the Andromeda Galaxy, which can be expected to be a popular target, says   

       // With an apparent magnitude of 3.4, the Andromeda Galaxy is among the brightest of the Messier objects making it visible to the naked eye from Earth on moonless nights, even when viewed from areas with moderate light pollution. //   

       I can confirm that: I once happened to see it, without trying, just looking at the sky, while waiting for a bus. (I looked it up later to confirm it was in that part of the sky at that time.)
notexactly, Mar 12 2019

       It just made me think about figuring out ways to dampen light pollution for telescopes is all. (nothing yet, but it'll percolate)   

       I love the idea. Why plug in a coin and look through binoculars at the landscape when you could look at the universe instead?
Can't really see the landscape much at night so a way to dual purpose this for day and night would be a hit.

       I was going to point out that you said "dampen" instead of "damp", but then I saw that you also said "percolate", so maybe you're onto something with moistening the light pollution.   

       Yes, I think it's a good idea to allow it to look at e.g. terrestrial targets in the daytime. Maybe a solar filter too, for sunspot viewing. Maybe aircraft.   

       It could also have a preset schedule of expected events, such as ISS and Iridium flares, and occultations of stars by planets, that it would observe automatically, displaying what it sees on its screen. These would be selected not for scientific value but for outreach value. It would still be available for use by coin-depositors in the times between these observations.
notexactly, Mar 12 2019

       I don't know.
I work by intuition and that sort of crap happens some times but I don't think this is one of them.
'Damp' instead of "dampen" when it comes to light eh? Noted.
I'm still learning terms from you guys by osmosis and sometimes the words I use to describe things are incorrect.
I was leaning more towards heat waves bending light pollution away from viewing areas... any mist would light up and create more interference I would think.

       I looked it up and it turns out I was actually wrong about that, because it's not a vibration or oscillation that's being suppressed. Dampen means "to make or become damp or moist" or "to deaden, weaken, or make dull" (not applied to vibrations or oscillations). Damp, as a verb, means "to suppress vibrations or oscillations" or, archaically, "to deaden, weaken, or make dull". What I usually see that annoys me, and what I reflexively thought you did, was the use of 'dampen' for suppression of vibrations or oscillations.   

       // I was leaning more towards heat waves bending light pollution away from viewing areas //   

       An artificial mirage? Might work. I don't know what trajectories light pollution usually takes, and it would depend on that.   

       // any mist would light up and create more interference I would think. //   

       Yes, but it might also serve to precipitate dust out of the air, which could result in an overall reduction of downward scattering of initially upward-going light.
notexactly, Mar 12 2019

       Howcome no ones mentioned Uranus?
not_morrison_rm, Mar 12 2019

       [not morrison rm] because you need a rather powerful microscope to see it.
Wait, that's for your other bits...
A powerful TELESCOPE.
neutrinos_shadow, Mar 12 2019

       //Maybe a solar filter too, for sunspot viewing//   

       (+) and Nibiru spotting...   

       //What I usually see that annoys me, and what I reflexively thought you did, was the use of 'dampen' for suppression of vibrations or oscillations.//   

       Honestly I was going to use the word 'alleviate' but misspelled it three times and couldn't be bothered looking it up or trying it again so I used the next closest word to what I wanted to say.
: ]

       Since light is both particle and wave maybe it applies.   

       //An artificial mirage? Might work. I don't know what trajectories light pollution usually takes, and it would depend on that.//   

       I've been thinking about that all day today and think I might have something figured out.
Enough perfect concentric vertical rings of heated air would bend incoming light from the next outward ring, if it weren't for any turbulence of chimney effect causing the heat waves to deform, as if the observer were at the center of hundreds of nested glass cylinders to the point where only a single vertical line of incoming light would be clearly visible while bends obscured the rest.

       We can't make perfect cylinders of rising hot air 'but' we could make concentric tornadoes of heated air which could be kept from converging by controlling the amount of cold air continuously released at the center of the multi-tornado, (multornado for short), so that it counteracts the chimney effect.
The inner air should also begin to counter-rotate, but in a downwards direction, and a cohesive column of rising central cold air would clear all upward distortion.

       I think that this would let us look up through the eye of an invisible storm of light so scattered as to cast an umbra which is laterally opaque to the central observer, no matter what the angle of incoming light, while making the view crystal clear as long as that view is directly upwards give or take a degree.   

       ...and it's given me an even cooler idea on how to fix that and give us a lens made out of of thin air that will let us look in any direction above the horizon, (give or take a degree or two of gravitational lens-ing)!

       I love this place...   

       I'm gonna let it percolate tomorrow some more and see what else presents itself.   

       Will the telescope allow its elevation to be adjusted downwards to allow this powerful telescope to be used to spy through people's windows? - asking for a friend.
hippo, Mar 13 2019

       To avoid a backlash that could be harmful to the outreach goal and to astronomy in general (i.e. "astronomers are perverts!"), it can have an exclusion zone around any buildings' windows or other potential privacy concerns. There is of course nothing (not even a law in most places) preventing someone from setting up their own telescope, binoculars, or camera next to this telescope and looking in people's windows. What they do with the blinds open is publicly visible, after all. But for optics (heh), this telescope should probably not allow itself to be used that way. Such use at night would also directly detract from its usefulness for its actual goal. But during the day, faraway terrestrial things that are not windows can still be viewed.
notexactly, Mar 13 2019


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