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If you want to take photographs of the night sky but you do not have the equipment to do it, then a simple and free solution is to control a robotic telescope. It is not as daunting as it sounds. You end up with fantastic photographs that were taken through a telescope at your request, just for you.

There are two sites that provide this service and both are free.


MicroObservatory is provided by the Havard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. Their telescopes are based in Arizona. This is the easiest site to use and you normally get your photographs after 48 hours.. The link below takes you to the home page. You will be presented with 5 subjects - Galileo, Colourful Cosmos, Black Hole Search, Galaxies Galore and The Telescope as a Time Machine. Click on the subject you want and you will be taken to a page with a brief description of the subject. Click on Continue. The next page gives you a selection of objects to photograph, select the one that you want. The next page will ask you to select an exposure time. Don't worry, when you click on one it will tell you whether it is correct or not, so you just keep selecting until you get the right one. There is only a choice of 4 so you are not going to waste your time trying to get it right. The next page will ask you for your email address. This is so they can send you the link to your photograph once it has been taken. You will not recieve any spam or junk mail from this. Click on the link below to visit the MicroObservatory Website.

The Bradford Robotic Telescope

The Bradford Robotic Telescope is run by the University of Bradford in the UK. Their telescopes are located on Mount Teide in Tenerife. The site is more comprehensive and invloved than Microobservatory. When you visit their site the first thing you must do is set up an account. It is free and all you need is your email address. Again you do not recieve any spam or junk mail. Once you have created you account you can submit requests for photographs. Your choice of object is completely up to you. You can select from a list of popular objects, constellations, nebula or even specify an exact point in the sky. Unfortunately the site can be very busy with requests at times which means that you may have to wait up to a couple of weeks before your photograph is taken. Click on the link below to go to the Bradford Robotic Telescope.

One word of warning. Both sites are completely automatic. Your requests will be dealt with in the order in which they were submitted. Unfortunately one thing beyond our control is the weather. If the sky is clear you will get back stunning photographs. However if it is overcast or raining then your photographs will be blank. Don't complain. The service is free so you can continue to submit requests as often as you want. If you are fortunate then your first photographs will be spectacular. If they are not then keep trying. Sooner or later you patience will be rewarded. Good Luck and Clear Skies.