From the work of Spring 2021, my students and I have produced some really amazing images. This has reduced some of my worries about the remote instruction, and thankfully our SUA Nieves Observatory, which can be operated from anywhere in the planet, came through. You can see more of these images on our Nieves Observatory website.
With my students based in Vietnam, India, Nepal, Japan, and New Jersey, I conducted “lab” sessions in my house where a group of students would appear on Zoom and we would virtually sit around the telescope while they took images. This continued throughout the Spring 2021 semester, and as the students became more capable I found myself able to step away and could watch them as they worked in groups to take images. It was interesting to see how their capabilites grew and the social environment that observing had created for them. Even in the virtual space, the process of peering into the vast blackness of space with the telescope was exciting and brought out a new dimension for the class.
To help them gain more experience, I also trained batches of students in a more advanced image processing program known as PixInsight. This program can do a more sophisticated analysis of the images, correcting for backgrounds, adding multiple exposures and enabling adjustment of the colors. Several of the students became experts and produced some marvelous and beautiful images which are below, with the names of our wonderful SUA students. All of these images were taken with our SUA Nieves Observatory, except for those that are labelled “LCRO” which were taken by the students using a remotely operated telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.
Kenichi Kagatani – M51 image