AAVSO: American Association of Variable Star Observers

The SPIRIT Telescope Initiative: Six Years On (Abstract)

Volume 45 number 2 (2017)

Paul Luckas
International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009; paul.luckas@uwa.edu.au

Abstract

(Abstract only) Now in its sixth year of operation, the SPIRIT initiative remains unique in Australia, as a robust web-enabled robotic telescope initiative funded for education and outreach. With multiple modes of operation catering for a variety of usage scenarios and a fully supported education program, SPIRIT provides free access to contemporary astronomical tools for students and educators in Western Australia and beyond. The technical solution itself provides an excellent model for low cost robotic telescope installations, and the education program has evolved over time to include a broad range of student experiences—from engagement activities to authentic science. This paper details the robotic telescope solution, student interface, and educational philosophy, summarizes achievements and lessons learned, and examines the possibilities for future enhancement including spectroscopy.