Want to See Space? Why Not Use One of NASA's Telescopes From the Comfort of Your Own Home

Amateur astronomers who do not have a telescope capable of peering deep into space can now use NASA telescopes remotely via its MicroObservatory network.

Using the space agency's Observing with NASA site, users can choose from a list of targets and receive a photograph of it almost immediately via email.

According to NASA, The Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Harvard College Observatory and the Whipple Observatory all work to maintain the network, which consists of telescopes measuring three feet tall and equipped with 6-inch mirrors to catch the light reflecting from space.

When they capture the light, it is recorded by an electronic chip that converts it to a photograph that can be sent online.

Each of the telescopes can be operated remotely and do not require a human operator. They are capable of viewing the moon, the Orion Nebula or nearby planets and are even powerful enough to snap a picture of other galaxies.

To do so, visit the Observing with NASA site and then select the “Control Telescope” option. Choose the target by simply selecting “observe” below the title of the object. Not all objects are observable all the time, but the list is extensive so users should be able to find something worth looking at.

observing with nasa objects There is an extensive list of objects users on the Observing with NASA site can choose to view with one of the MicroObservatory telescopes. Observing with NASA

After a user has chosen an object they then have to choose the field of view, meaning how wide they’d like their image to be, the exposure time and then filter selections or the type of light allowed through the detector. The site has a guide for users who are inexperienced or aren’t quite sure what exposure time or filter would be best for the object they wish to view.

orion options observing with nasa Users can choose the field of view, exposure time and filter they want NASA's MicroObservatory telescopes to use to view and capture images of space objects. Observing with NASA

Some objects are observed by the telescopes more frequently than others. The sun is captured once or twice a week, according to Observing with NASA, meaning that image may take a few days to appear in a user’s inbox.

For those with only a little bit of patience, other recent images from the MicroObservatory can be viewed online, no waiting involved.​