Sierra Stars Observatory Network: An Accessible Global Network
The Sierra Stars Observatory Network (SSON) is a unique partnership among professional observatories that provides its users with affordable high-quality calibrated image data. SSON comprises observatories in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere and is in the process of expanding to a truly global network capable of covering the entire sky 24 hours a day in the near future. The goal of SSON is to serve the needs of science-based projects and programs. Colleges, universities, institutions, and individuals use SSON for their education and research projects. The mission of SSON is to promote and expand the use of its facilities among the thousands of colleges and schools worldwide that do not have access to professional-quality automated observatory systems to use for astronomy education and research. With appropriate leadership and guidance educators can use SSON to help teach astronomy and do meaningful scientific projects. The relatively small cost of using SSON for this type of work makes it affordable and accessible for educators to start using immediately. Remote observatory services like SSON need to evolve to better support education and research initiatives of colleges, institutions and individual investigators. To meet these needs, SSON is developing a sophisticated interactive scheduling system to integrate among the nodes of the observatory network. This will enable more dynamic observations, including immediate priority interrupts, acquiring moving objects using ephemeris data, and more.
Williams, R. & Beshore, E. 2011, in Telescopes from Afar Conference, An international conference on remotely operated, automated, or robotic ground based telescopes