Welcome to SKYWATCHERS.NET
Who are the Skwatchers?
The Skywatchers are a loose federation of Astronomers, both Amateur and Professional who love to watch the sky. They come from many different backrounds, cultures and countrys. All are united by the common bond of love for the sky that surrounds us all.
What do they do?
The group consists of deep sky observers having telescopes equiped with CCD cameras. Each party picks a small area or areas of the sky and monitors his/her area. These little `pieces' of the sky becomes the personal responsibility of it`s owner. In other words it is up to the owner of each little piece to keep track of whats going on in his or her areas and keep a permanent record of images.
How does it work?
Since it is impossible for any one site to make and keep a permanent record of the whole sky, a alternative approach is to have a federation of thousands of observers each responsible for their own area. These observers are scattered all over the surface of the planet and so, at least in theory could cover the total sky. Coupled with the fact that there would be multiple coverages, meaning possibly many parties covering the same area. Thus if one individual is unable to cover his area (for any number of reasons) another may be able to make observations thus providing continuous coverage of that area. Each person is responsible for storing their data. Thus in effect a large data base is created, each individual party acting as a single `cell' of a larger whole.
The advantages of such a system are many, some of which are as follows; since there isn't a practical way to hold and maintain such a large data base in any one location each persons hard disk storage becomes a part of a `virtual storage system' . Another advantage is that the data cannot be easily destoyed since it is not contained in any one location and since many parties watch the same areas a duplication safeguard is in force.
Of what use is this information?
The primary objective is to provide the professional community with a alternative source of information in addition to what is collected through professional equipment. As we all know the use of telescope time is quite limited on the big instruments for various reasons. As mentioned above it is impossible to monitor the whole sky by any individual agency thus this resource is a invaluable tool for the professional researcher. A obvious senerio is as follows; a astronomical event happens in a small area of the sky. It`s probability of being recorded from start to finish on a professional instrument is small. A professional researcher is interested in the event but doesn`t have much information. Skywatchers provides the researcher with the information about the individuals who monitor the specific areas in question . From here on it is up to the researcher and the individual member to co-ordinate the transfer of data or any other requests that the researcher might have.
So how is the Sky Watchers Data Base kept?
The organization has contracted with a private company who has agreed to maintain the data base and perform other organizational tasks. Again as mentioned above the only information kept is the name of the Skywatcher and information on how to contact him/her in case someone is enquiring about a event that happened in the area that they monitor. Amoung other safety measures, this data base is kept offline on a separate computor.
Who would qualify to be a Skywatcher?
To be a Skywatcher requires several unusal abilities. The first one, and by far the most important, is that the individual must have a deep love of the sky. The call to watch the skys can be a lonely pursuit and challenging pursuit. This call is not for every one. Compared to the glitz and glammer of other pursuits on this planet, the loneliness of this calling, the effort required to set up the equipment night after night, the dealing with adverse weather and equipment problems, the expense of maintaining the pursuit, and the nagging voice that wispers of what good is all of this? The lesser, casual, or temporarily interested observer that doesn't get the necessary feed back from the sky will not be able to last. There are a lot of Amateurs who unbidden regularily observe and maintain their own records of the sky and have been doing so for years. They do this automatically without being asked to, because of a interior calling....they love the sky.
The other important consideration is that one must have the right equipment. In order to efficiently create and save data that is of research grade quality a suitable telescope eight inches or larger with a ccd camera is required. Of course this includes a suitable mount and the other equipment necessary to take successful ccd images and store them.
Again the SkyWatchers effort interms of the world system is a thankless job. There is no glitz. No glammer. No one is going to interview you, thank you or give you a pat on the back. Most of us observe in obscurity with little chance of reconition. Except for the cosmic probability of a event happening in your particular corner of the sky this is what most of us can expect. The reward for the Skywatcher is not glitz, glammer, or publicity of the world. Watching the grace, the beauty, and being part of the sky form which we all come is the interior reward in itself.
If you are interested in becoming a SkyWatcher please select the link below.
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