Beyond backyard astronomy: professional telescopes online for school
Since the Telescopes in Education (TIE) project began in 1993 schools have had access, via telephone lines, to a high quality telescope on Mt Wilson in California. Highgate School in London has been an enthusiastic participant and this has benefited physics students in many ways. Now two more robotically controlled telescopes are becoming available to UK schools. Off-line applications to the Liverpool Telescope (La Palma, Canary Islands) via the National Schools Observatory and real-time astronomical observing for education, through access to the Faulkes Telescopes (Hawaii and Australia), give schools unprecedented access to research quality astronomical data. We should be careful to consider what can be gained from such projects to maximize their potential.