This is one of the most exciting `shops' which offers you a unique chance to use a large telescope for astronomical observations of anything from minor planets to quasars. From here you may prepare a real observing programme of one or more celestial objects of your choice. Your Group may also decide to collaborate with other Groups on a specific project, according to your common interests.
To carry through an observing programme from concept to publication, you will find below everything you need, from general instructions about how to prepare an observing proposal, how to submit it to a professional telescope and, finally, how to work with the observational data and write a report about your results.
All information is available here. You just have to click on the appropriate icon.
The first icon (General Instructions) will direct you to the instructions needed to prepare a 'professional' observing proposal which describes what you want to observe, why you want to observe these particular objects and what you hope to achieve by means of these observations.
To prepare an observing proposal, you must also know about the technical capabilities of the professional telescopes which are available for you. The second icon therefore leads you to Telescope and Instrument Manuals which contain all the information you need to judge whether a particular telescope will be able to perform the observation you want. For instance, which equipment is available at which telescope? How sensitive is the detector, that is, how long do you have to expose in order to get good images of your chosen object?
Here you will also find very interesting links to the Homepages of those observatories which are putting their telescopes at the disposal of the Astronomy On-Line participants.
The third icon helps you to submit your observing proposal. You will have to fill out a standard form and give information about your programme. To be sure that your programme is feasible, it will be checked by a group of professional astronomers and teachers. If there are any problems, they will contact you and help you to overcome them.
When your proposal has been accepted, it will be put on the list of Accepted Observing Programmes. From here, it will be taken over by one of the observatories. The astronomers there will then try to carry out your observations with their telescope.
Thereafter, they will try to keep you informed about the progress of the observations via the Observing Schedule.
When the data has been obtained, in most cases CCD images taken through different filters, they will be transmitted back to you via the WWW directly from the telescope. Thereafter it is up to you and your Group to evaluate and interpret these data. (Who knows, maybe you will make a discovery!).
Finally, it is expected that you publish your results in the AOL Newspaper on the WWW, so that all other participants can learn about them.