GNAT: A Global Network of Small Telescopes as a Resource for Astronomical Research and Education
There is no question that relatively small telescopes are powerful tools for astronomy, just as they always have been. With the new detectors and full usage of computers they have become even more powerful, enabling us to do more with a 1-meter aperture telescope today than what a 4- or 5-meter telescope could do only a few decades ago. New imaging detectors allow us to work both fainter than with our older photometers or with traditional photographic
methods. And the small ones cost much less to build and operate than the large ones. As such, small telescopes are the main or only hope for observation time for the many
astronomers worldwide who need them as part of their research or educational tools.
In addition, the advances in communication technology allow us to be in nearly realtime effective communication with each other and with our telescopes. We can truly envisage
a multi-user multi-telescope multi-site observatory. Thus, small telescopes can be located at excellent remote observing sites and operated by many users automatically.
These technology changes empower us to conceive of a global network of astronomical telescopes. In an effort to bring such a facility to reality we have incorporated a new non-profit organization, GNAT Inc. The rest of this paper summarizes the goals and the status and the viable future of GNAT.