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postcards from the observatory

What's it like to use a telescope at an observatory?

The Gemini 8-meter telescope

Observatories are located in some of the most remote places on Earth. Scientists need to be far away from the city lights to see the faintest stars and galaxies. Telescopes are often built on the tops of mountains and in desert regions, high above the moisture in the atmosphere. Dark dry skies and good weather are the ideal conditions for learning about the universe.

Astronomers typically spend a few nights at a time, up to several times per year using the telescopes at these isolated observatories. With modern digital cameras and other scientific instruments, scientists can gather so much information in such a short time that they spend the rest of the year just trying to understand it.

Several researchers who are gathering data to support NASA's Kepler satellite are sending virtual postcards from observatories around the globe to Windows to the Universe, describing their experiences. Take a look at the messages linked below, and check back often for new postcards!

Kepler Field from the dark sky park from Joanna Molenda-Zakowicz, May 6, 2010

Watching stars pulsate from Tenerife from Katrien Uytterhoeven, June 5, 2010

Winter observing in July from Katrien Uytterhoeven, July 4, 2010

Team Observing for Two Weeks from Orlagh Creevey, July 26, 2010

Stellar Properties and Lone Star Monsoons from Katrien Uytterhoeven, August 1, 2010

Staring at Kepler's eclipsing binaries from Steven Bloemen, June 18, 2011

Measuring the sizes of Kepler stars from Daniel Huber, July 06, 2011

Last modified July 6, 2011 by Travis Metcalfe.

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Stellar Properties and Lone Star Monsoons

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Staring at Kepler's eclipsing binaries

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA