How does it work?

TARA gives students access to a telescope in California. Students can control the telescope live here at CIT BCO, taking advantage of different locations on our planet. The eight hour time difference between our part of western Europe and western North America means that at 10am in Ireland we view the dark skies of 2am! For students in the same time zone as the telescope, the Sun and the Moon can be observed. We have included a dedicated solar telescope for daytime astronomy.

The telescope is based at Ormondale Elementary School. Our CIT BCO staff developed a software user interface to control the telescope systems. This interface can be tailored to specific users.

All sessions in our control room are facilitated by a trained member of staff who guides each school group through the entire process. Teams work together in our control room to interpret the sensor data from the telescope system. Weather conditions are hugely important when using a telescope! We can use the live updates to determine if conditions in California are suitable for observing.

Students get to take pictures of objects they choose. The telescope is controlled in real-time by the students, meaning they get to actually move the telescope and take a picture themselves. The students get to see the telescope move (via a webcam) at their command and the whole process is highly interactive.

TARA has a cloud monitor and a weather station attached to it as well as a camera facing the sky. All this data is incorporated into our telescope workshops.