The Bradford Robotic Telescope
New advances in technology enable the average person to use a world-class telescope from the comfort of home. Anyone on the Internet can register to use the telescope without charge, but access is determined by the user's priority level. Observations are then sorted and made as time allows. The Bradford Robotic Telescope was the first fully automated telescope to have a web link via the Internet.
Any registered user can ask the telescope to look for a catalogued object in the northern sky. The telescope is able to decide if the weather conditions are good enough to make an observation. The speed of the server depends on the number of observers using it at the time. The maximum number of anonymous users on the server is 160 at present, but plans to upgrade the server are ongoing.
The telescope is 46 cm in diameter and is fully autonomous, powered by four 486DX computers. The telescope is located approximately ten miles from Bradford University high atop the moors in Yorkshire England. A web interface was written for the telescope and can be reached at http://www.telescope.org. Users can register at the site and then read an on-line user's guide about the telescope, find out technical details, get stellar and weather reports. Some people might ask, "So why use the Internet and World Wide Web instead of another interface?". The answer is straight-forward: The Internet is much better at reaching a wide group of people. It can communicate with people regardless of which computer platform their computer is running. The four major platforms are PC's using DOS, Windows, Macintosh and UNIX terminals. The Internet can communicate with each respectively.
Other automated telescopes are being built at the present time, one of which is in the Canary Islands.