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Deep Space Observatories:
Remote Control Telescope on the Internet
Phoenix-10 is an important astronomical telescope atop an 8,000-ft. mountain peak outside Tucson, Arizona. Every night of the year, Phoenix-10 scans the skies over Mount Hopkins, recording the brightness and color of stars as ordered by astronomers from across the world.
Phoenix-10 is like a rent-a-telescope, selling star time to astronomers. It works alone under some of the clearest skies in North America. It even works on the Fourth of July, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
From his office at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 2,000 miles away from Mount Hopkins, astronomy professor Mike Seeds controls Phoenix-10. He coordinates operations of the telescope which is owned by the non-profit corporation Fairborn Observatory Inc. Fees paid by astronomers keep the instrument running.
During each morning after, Seeds uses the Internet to log on to the Phoenix-10 telescope's computer and download data from the previous night's observations. Later during the daytime, he uses the Internet again to send new instructions for that night's telescope observations.
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