The Best Kept Secret in Amateur Astronomy

I’ve been taking an astronomy class at my university this semester, mostly to knock out some gen-ed credit requirements, but also because it’s fun and interesting. While we still have some socially-distanced labs in person, telescope time is an issue that has been solved with something potentially even cooler: Slooh. is a subscription service that gives you remote access to several telescopes in the Canary Islands and Chile, allowing you to select positions and capture photos. (The name comes from “slew,” referring to the adjustment of a telescope’s orientation.) It’s been around for about 17 years, but this is the first time I’ve come across the service.

Image of the Orion Nebula (M42), located south of Orion’s Belt.

The telescopes include:

  • Canary One: Half-meter (20”) Corrected Dall-Kirkham

  • Canary Two: 17” (432mm) Corrected Dall-Kirkham (wide field) and Apochromatic Refractor (ultra-wide)

  • Canary Three: “Deep Sky” Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph with color CCD

  • Canary Four: “Solar System” Schmidt-Cassegrain Catadioptric Edge-HD

  • Canary Five: H-Alpha Double Stacked Refractor for Solar photography

  • Chile One: Schmidt-Cassegrain Catadioptric EdgeHD (wide field) and Apochromatic Refractor Telescope (ultra-wide)

  • Chile Two: Corrected Dall-Kirkham, 17” (432mm) primary mirror

  • Chile Three: Lunar and Planetary Schmidt-Cassegrain Catadioptric EdgeHD equipped with a high framerate video camera for lunar photography

The starting cost is $100/year, with a 50% discount for students. That lets you queue “missions” to any of 1000 catalogued objects with a few clicks. (People who actually know what they’re doing, and are willing to pay for higher pricing tiers, can gain a bit more control.) It’s a fantastic offering, being able to have even limited use of large, high-quality telescopes located in some of the best places in the world for capturing astronomical images.

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