Welcome to the Observatory Command Center! As a community member, you can command robotic telescopes at world class observing sites like the Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa.

Make your own reservation now by clicking a GREEN Available Slot in the schedule. If all the slots are booked, move ahead a day in the schedule by clicking the red date flags.
Now select an object to be viewed using Quick Pick or Choose From List. These lists represent celestial objects that are in the night sky during your selected viewing time.

Members can also point the telescopes by entering a Catalog Number or Coordinates which will provide access to additional features such as processing recipes, auto-snap, and calibrated FITS images.

Once your slot is confirmed, the telescope will point to that object at the designated time. Both PNG and FITS image files are saved in My Pics for easy retrieval. Continue
Advanced users have access to additional features, including adjusting the processing recipes, auto-snap and calibrated FITS images. Click the Advanced button to review further.
It's that easy! Become a community member today to confirm your reservation.

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Canary Islands Reservations
Image: Mercury from Orbit, NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center
Observatory Status and Notices

If you want to be notified of observatory updates such as the previous night's report, check the "Observatory Status and Notices" page in the Clubhouse.
You can use the "Watch" option on the page to receive automatic email notifications.

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Canary Islands Observatory
Missions offline during daylight hours.
Chile Observatory
Missions offline during daylight hours.

Auto-Snap will automatically save all of the images from this mission to your My Pics area. No need to snap, or even enter the Mission Interface. Just check the Auto-Snap box and then view your images after the mission is complete.

Color Mode

Normal color imaging is achieved by taking a long monochrome exposure through a luminance filter, which is essentially clear, but with UV and IR blocking. This is then colorized by adding shorter monochrome exposures taken through red, green, and blue filters. However, it is possible to obtain different results by following the same exposure and processing routines, just substituting a different filter for the Luminance exposure. This is often called a "filtered luminance" process, but that's a bit of a misnomer since a normal luminance exposure uses a filter as well.


Using a red filter will intensify emission nebulae and help eliminate Moon glare, which is predominantly blue in color. It is also used frequently for planetary imaging where the planet can be too bright with a normal luminance filter. This mode does not work well with galaxies and reflection nebulae which have significant amounts of blue light.


Using a hydrogen-alpha narrowband filter for luminance further intensifies emission nebulae but results in a fainter overall image since the Hα admits so much less light. Again, does not work well with galaxies and reflection nebulae, although it does highlight the emission nebulae and star-forming regions in distant galaxies.

Monochrome Filter

Monochrome imaging takes just one long exposure (or a stack of several shorter ones) through just a single filter. The resulting image is monochrome (greyscale), even through is it taken through a color filter. Using this technique, images from several missions taken through different filters can be combined offline to achieve the equivalent of a much longer color exposure (up to 30 minutes or more). It is also possible to use narrowband or photometric filters on some scopes to create false color images.

Deliver Calibrated FITS Images

Images are normally delivered in a lossless PNG format, after various image processing recipes have been applied. FITS (Flexible Image Transport System) images on the other hand, are raw files representing the direct output of the CCD camera, with no image processing applied. These images have, however, been calibrated, meaning that dark, flat and bias frame processing has already been applied. Note that specialized astronomical image processing software is required to read FITS images.

If selected, the FITS images will be downloaded generally within 24 hours and will be available from a link next to the PNG image in your My Pics area. You will also be informed via email when the images are ready.

NOTE: Auto-Snap must be enabled to get FITS images.

Processing Recipes

All recipes use a long luminance exposure followed by shorter red, green, and blue exposures. The monochrome luminance is delivered first, followed by a merged LRGB. The exact exposure times and processing vary by system. For instance, on the Canary Islands dome 1 HM system, two luminance exposures, each similar in length to the single exposure on other systems, are taken and stacked for the final luminance image. On photographically slow systems (such as the f/11 Canary Islands dome 2 HM), the color images are taken at a higher binning and a gaussian blur is applied before the merge to reduce color noise.

Note that several bright objects, such as the Orion Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, and most planets use custom imaging and processing routines tailored specifically for each object. These targets should be imaged using the "Choose from List" option in order to employ the custom processing. None of the recipes available for catalog and coordinate missions will image these targets well.

The general differences between processing recipes are as follows:

Generic Recipe

A low contrast linear stretch is applied to both the delivered luminance image and the merged LRGB image.

Bright Star Recipe

A low contrast stretch with a high gamma is applied to darken the sky background. On some systems, the high-mag scope is disabled due to blooming issues.

Open Cluster Recipe

Similar to the Generic Recipe.

Globular Cluster Recipe

An FFT based DDP algorithm is applied to aid in resolving both the cluster center and edges. After DDP, a high gamma stretch is used with parameters similar to those used for the Moon.

Bright Galaxy or Comet Recipe

A kernel low-pass DDP helps to resolve the bright nucleus. A low-contrast stretch with a high gamma is applied to the delivered luminance image. The merged LRGB image receives a low-contrast stretch with a low gamma and localized contrast enhancement.

Faint Galaxy or Comet Recipe

A medium contrast stretch with a low gamma is applied to dig out faint details.

Large Bright Nebula Recipe

A low contrast, low gamma stretch is applied to the luminance images. After color merging, a high gamma stretch is used. This recipe assumes there is little to no dark background sky in the image.

Small Bright Nebula Recipe

A low gamma Moon stretch is applied to the luminance images. After color merging, a linear stretch is used. This recipe is designed mainly for planetary nebulae.

Faint Nebula Recipe

A medium contrast stretch with low gamma is applied.

Please complete your reservation within the next

Selected Target

Visible Targets:

RA:    h    m    s   (J2000.0)
Dec:    °    '    "
RA:       Dec:  
Target Name:  (optional)

Color Mode 
Monochrome Filter 

Photometric U
Photometric B
Photometric V
Photometric R
Photometric I
Deliver Calibrated FITS Images 
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