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Choose a star and watch it - with the help of the Internet

A huge database of all known celestial bodies will soon be available to anyone
who is interested in using the Internet to point a telescope at any object he wants
to see

Avi Blizovsky

Astronomers, schoolchildren and hobbyists will soon be able to observe the sky
With the help of a network of telescopes that will be controlled via the Internet. The project, named eStar,
will connect six telescopes, three in the Northern Hemisphere and three in the Hemisphere
the southern hemisphere, to create a complete system that can be controlled remotely.
The observation time on these instruments will be divided between astronomers, students,
School students and hobbyists, who would like to use these observations for research, or
Just seeing celestial objects they are interested in.
The network will also use smart software, which will automatically locate points
Interesting or changing objects by searching in a database and moving
The telescope to search for the findings.
Two British universities - John Moore of Liverpool and Univ
Exeter, three of the telescopes will already cooperate in the eStar project
Dr. Dave Carter, one of eStar's senior scientists, says that creation
The network should relieve the world's largest telescopes that suffer from congestion
remainder. These are telescopes with a diameter of two meters and as for the time of the observation
in which there is a demand 3-5 times greater than the possible time.
A network of telescopes scattered around the world is useful
More because it will allow astronomers to track the celestial object
Regularly even if it goes below the horizon of one of the telescopes, talk
which is not possible with one telescope observation. Access to several telescopes means
Also, that the instrument which is at the best point for observation will always be aimed
to the bone
eStar will use the John Moores University telescope in the Canary Islands as well
In telescopes in Hawaii and Japan.
Eventually, project participants will be able to use public telescopes
and private in Australia, Chile, China, USA and South Africa.
The network will also make use of the expectations of the UK schools, which will be provided
School students have access to astronomical instruments.
One of the important aspects of the project is the plan to create intelligent software,
that you can help astronomers with research. In the end the work to be done
Through standardization of the information in the astronomical databases
Allow software agents to check data, read scientific articles and analyze
How the celestial body changes over time.
An initial version of the software was unveiled at the inauguration of the National e-Science Center
in Edinburgh in April and it has already been used for the observation of dwarf novae.
Dr. Carter says that only downloading the project to the web will allow astronomers
The Europeans save on trips to the Canary Islands and Hawaii.
And in the same matter, astronomers are among the beneficiaries of the possibility to turn the
The Internet for a database of computers used for processing information from space.
The three-year Astro-Grid project makes it possible to provide astronomers with a way
access distributed information and process it.
The project will make it possible to advance the scientific goal of processing the amount of information
The petition that the telescopes and scientific instruments are expected to provide in years
The closest.
The researchers behind the initiative believe that everything can be processed
This information is only thanks to the processing power provided by the Internet.
Astro-Grid is a British project with a budget of 5 million pounds.
The project seeks to establish a single and friendly interface for a large number of archives
Astronomical and online data.
This is one of the projects that was inspired by the way computers can be used
which are connected to a network to create a virtual supercomputer, or storage system
virtually unlimited. The "grid" can also help predict the "weather"
In space - that is, phenomena in space that affect the earth or on
Satellites - for example sunspots or eruptions from it, meteor showers
And so forth.
Nicholas Walton, a scientist at the AstroGrid project, says that astronomers
Many spend most of their time hunting for data and instead of using what
Yes, they can use the computing power they really need.
DATA SETS are archives, which are not organized in the same way
The format or they do not allow access to the data at all," says Dr. Walton.
Astro-Grid will create a standard way to create queries from almost any database
Astronomical data will remove the worry of understanding the technical terms of
The devices to get the best from the data.
To enable this, the project leaders defined a "meta data" format, which allows
Use data series that have already been converted so that they can be edited
Queries in one interface, similar to the web browser.
"We want to allow astronomers to carry out their scientific work on the road
More efficient and economical", said Dr. Walton. "We want to make it easier
Everyone access the same data and be sure that everyone gets the
The data is in a uniform way," he said.
The ability to integrate databases from different sources becomes very important
For astronomers, says Dr. Walton. "Just by combining the data
From X-ray, magnetism, infrared and optical imaging,
On those celestial objects such as supernova remnants, will be able to give scientists
A possibility to understand the universe".

Intermediate: 100 gigabytes at night
Astro-Grid will also allow astronomers to deal with the enormous amount of
Data from new instruments, such as visible and infrared telescopes
(Vista). This is a system that scans the entire sky every few days.
This project alone generates 100 gigabytes every night.
Additional planned instruments such as the European giant telescope array,
and NASA's STAR project, will also provide a similar amount of data.
"The only way astronomers will be able to search and analyze huge quantities
Such data is using the network as a storage system and as a supercomputer
Huge," says Dr. Watson.
Without the help of the Internet, scientists have no chance of finding dozens of objects
that interest them out of billions of objects that many devices have collected information on
on them. "We want to enable astronomers to carry out science in an economical way
More", he said. "We want them to be able to do things they do
Today, but faster, and to do things that are not at all possible today."

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