Image of ARO-30 Remote Telescope, courtesy UNC PROMPT Observatory
While you may think of Skynet as the malevolent computer from the Terminator movies, in reality Skynet is a far more benevolent organization of folks who want to bring astronomy education and experience to anyone who desires to learn more about our heavens above.
Skynet University offers Astronomy programs for the general public for free. There are some tests and activities that cost up to $65, but the tuition and telescope time is offered at no cost. These introductory programs can be taken either as a regularly scheduled online course or at your own pace. The introductory courses teach you the basics of the cosmos, and depending on the course you take, they also teach you how to best use remote telescopes.
You heard right; Skynet offers a variety of robotic telescopes for student and educational use via the web. They are not generally available to the general public; however, if you take their online classes you become eligible to use them for free. Most of the scopes are sloted for time for research into Gamma Ray Bursts (GRB). As they are only needed for small periods of time they become available for use by amateurs and students when they are free. You can join their queue and set the telescopes to image one object or section of the sky, and after a certain period of time you will get an email with the images you instructed the robotic telescope to take. There are even radio telescopes coming online for use as well.
Sign up by checking out Skynet's Intro to Astronomy page here: http://skynet.unc.edu/introastro/ Happy learning!
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is partnered with Skynet, the University of Chicago, Yerkes Observatory, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) to develop Skynet Junior Scholars.
We invite you to join the NASA Night Sky Network stargazing community on Facebook and Twitter for sky charts, beautiful images, and lively conversation.
Distant Suns, your personal guide to the cosmos, lists Night Sky Network astronomy club star parties, safe solar gazing events, and lectures in the main navigation bar. Distant Suns is available on iPhone, iPad, Kindle, and NOOK.
SkySafari, a powerful planetarium that fits in your pocket, lists Night Sky Network astronomy club star parties, safe solar gazing events, and lectures in the help menu. SkySafari is available for Android and the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Clear skies and happy stargazing!
The NASA Night Sky Network is managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in cooperation with NASA.