College Students Organize First-ever Remote Astronomy International Messier Marathon

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Michael Pagitz, of Austria and Evan Fischler, of Seattle, Washington have presented to the global astronomical community a challenge to participate in the world's first ever organized, remote astronomy Messier Marathon. For those of you that are interested mark your calendar for March 28 and March 29, 2008. Find below more details and links to websites where you can learn more of the details and actually register for the competition.

Evan and Michael

I'm studying communications at the University of Klagenfurt with the focus on new information technologies. Additionally, My dream was always to have my own observatory where I could image the marvel universe. Imaging was fascinating me all the time. I read all the books that I could get and tried to take my own images of Milk way and the Planets.

For the first time in history, amateur astronomers will have an opportunity to participate in an international competition. Michael and Evan have formulated plans to dramatically demonstrate the unbelievable efficiency of using remote astronomy to accomplish this popular challenge. The Messier Marathon is frequently performed at Star parties. Michael and Evan have added a new twist and set out to break all pre-existing world record

Utilizing the advanced GRAS telescope network system, Evan and Michael have created what should be an interesting competition. With great prizes for everyone that participates, plus extremely generous prizes for the winners.

Here are the links for more information:
http://www.amos.observatory.at/html/remote_messier1.html (English)
http://www.amos.observatory.at/html/remote_messier.html (German)

What typically might take all night to accomplish, for even the most advanced amateur astronomers, Michael and Evan, using the state of the art, facilities of the global rent-a-scope telescope network (GRAS), Based in Mayhill, New Mexico, have estimated this amazing feat can be accomplished in a little over six hours. GRAS is the exclusive provider of astronomical resources for the famous RAS Observatory of New Mexico. The observatory is headed by Dr. Ed Wiley.

Anyone can join this global competition. The registration fee is $50.

Everyone is a big winner because included with the registration for each registrant is the following:

  •     GRAS - CCD-100 plan membership ($100) value for one monthly at no extra cost
  •     Access to all images from the contest with all intellectual rights included
  •     Access to the observer's control panel from where to observe firsthand all the action and raw images
  •     Access to all necessary calibration frames from the GRAS extensive library

In Addition to the victors go the spoils. The following is for the winners:

  •     1st place - 300 ($300 value) points with total access to the entire GRAS Telescope Network.
  •     2nd place - 200 ($200 value) points with total access to the entire GRAS Telescope Network.
  •     3rd place - 100 ($100 value) points with total access to the entire GRAS Telescope Network.

To join the marathon and register, please visit
http://www.ras-observatory.org/ras/html/messier_marathon.html.

An added benefit, is offered to those interested in witnessing this historical first-hand. The event may be observed by using the Observer's remote console to do so from the comfort of their own computer. The images taken by the remote telescope systems involved in the competition will be display real-time. So this will be a rare and unique opportunity to be able to see all 110 objects within about a six-hour period.

About the RAS Observatory
Nestled high atop the Sacramento Mountains of southern New Mexico, at 7300 feet, rests a special astronomical research facility run by the Remote Astronomical Research Society. Dr. Ed Wiley, PhD of Kansas University, is the current director. GRAS is the world's premier provider of remote astronomical resources. "GRAS...for drivers not passengers"

Something about the organizers:

Evan Fischler:
When Evan Fischler was asked about his interest in astronomy he commented, "My interest in astronomy first became apparent during a daydreaming session contemplating what was out there beside our own galaxy. My quest for the answer drove me to query my science teacher, who at the moment was very into astrophysics; accordingly I asked my teacher, "so what's out there?" And he responded with huge numbers that looked like the following: 2348^3274023.s83/23423=1

"My jaw dropped, absolutely stunned! Since that day I have had a never-ending interest in exploring the possibilities." Fischler continued, "Future plans include two years of study at the community college, and attending a camp where I intend to learn more about asteroid tracking. I hope to gain the necessary experience to be able to track and report the results of real-time observations to Smithsonian Institute, which is also sponsored by NASA."

Evan added, "My ultimate goal is to strive for excellence and success much the same as professional athletes do in teams sports. Learning team skills and, by working in team supportive environments like GRAS May qualify me to apply for an internship at NASA JPL Where I could continue my career and become an astronaut."

Michael Pagitz:
Michael responded to the same question as follows, "I'm a student and a fascinated astronomer from Austria, not Australia we don't have Kangaroos."

Pagitz added, "I'm studying communications at the University of Klagenfurt with the focus on new information technologies. Additionally, My dream was always to have my own observatory where I could image the marvel universe. Imaging was fascinating me all the time. I read all the books that I could get and tried to take my own images of Milk way and the Planets."

Michael continued, "Now, approximately 15 years later, I'm finishing building up my own observatory with four friends, the Amos Observatory (http://www.amos.observatory.at). It takes nearly three years to get rid of all the problems to build this observatory but, I'm sure every one of you knows that you'll never give up such a great love. The focus of our work at AMOS will be the photographic part and the research for Asteroids, minor planets and comets. Perhaps will make it to use our observatory remote like GRAS to work more efficient."

Check out the first image (top and to the right) taken at GRAS where the telescope was controlled by an iPhone by Professor Jeff Terry of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).

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