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The Virtual Telescope: an educational resource for pupils and teachers

Have you ever dreamt to control a telescope via your computer and getting unlimited real time observing? A team of astronomers have launched “The Virtual Telescope”, a new initiative bringing the exploration of the universe accessible to everyone. The objective of the project is to manage a global network of robotic telescopes dedicated to educational purposes.

Monitored by students, teachers, professional and amateur astronomers, the Virtual Telescope can track any kind of astronomical object with no restrictions on observing time. Users simply need to log in to the Virtual Telescope website, request time and they will be able to explore their own astronomical images. By using innovative observing techniques and software, the Virtual Telescope provides real time observations and live interactive support services.

“The possibilities for supporting science in the national curriculum for classroom and current research activities are endless” explains Sotira Trifourki, UK coordinator for the Virtual Telescope. “The Virtual Telescope gives users the capability of making a real contribution to science by giving them the chance to make discoveries of their own and even help evaluating the impact risk from Near-Earth Orbiting objects, allowing accurate calculations of their paths and potential hazard”.

The telescope is set in Ceccano, Italy (90km from Rome). The Virtual Telescope is also planning to expand its operations to develop a larger network of robotic telescopes based in Chile, Australia and Cyprus.
This project of the Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory is run by Dr. Gianluca Masi, PhD, astrophysicist. Curator of the Planetarium of Rome, he received several prizes for his activity in this field.

Visit the Virtual Telescope website

The Virtual Telescope “Discover the Sky!” Competition

To celebrate its launch, The Virtual Telescope runs a competition entitled “Discover the Sky!” Participants - pupils and teachers - are invited to design scientific projects and activities involving the use of its facilities.
Entries should be submitted by 28 February 2007. Prizes will consist in free observing time at the Virtual Telescope, books and other astronomical gadgets. The winners will be invited to share their experiences at the 2nd Virtual Meeting on Amateur Astronomy in April 2007.

More info about the competition

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