Our vision for LightBuckets.com is simple...to make it easy to access research-grade telescopes by anyone interested in astronomy - from beginners to astrophotographers to university researchers. As with many things, the words are the easy part, it's the execution that tells the real story.
We started down the path with one Ritchey-Chrétien telescope and a dream. Our inventory quickly grew to two, three, four, and more observatories comprising the most comprehensive network of large-aperture, high-end telescopes available for rent via the web. We have spared no expense in selecting the top telescopes and components for our customers. For imaging deep space objects we use RC Optical Systems Ritchey-Chrétien or PlaneWave telescopes. These are widely considered to be the finest flat-field, coma-free, high-contrast instruments available to institutions and individuals. Our wide-field telescopes are Takahashi triple fluorite or TMB, ortho-apochromat refractors that provide exquisite color-free images of extended objects in the heavens. But the telescopes are only part of what makes LightBuckets special. Without the powerful software that we have engineered to control every aspect of our observatories, they would be just expensive piles of metal, mirrors, and motors.
Our online interface presents an easy to follow workflow that leads customers from selecting an observatory to choosing a target and from setting up an imaging run to retrieving their image data. LightBuckets has two different "modes", one for beginners and one for advanced customers. Beginners simply tell us what they want to image and the level of detail they would like to see. LightBuckets takes care of all the particulars from selecting an observatory to scheduling the time to planning the imaging run. We'll even automatically produce a final full-color image so there's no need for customers to know the first thing about image processing.
Advanced customers, including astrophotographers and researchers, have complete observatory control as well as full command of their imaging run. All customers can monitor the progress by viewing the real-time telemetry and images from the observatory as their imaging run takes place. Behind the scenes at LightBuckets, some real rocket science is taking place to manage and control these sophisticated instruments. Considering that each observatory includes a dome, telescope, mount, focuser, weather instrumentation, instrument rotator, and one or more CCD cameras, you can see that there is a lot to keep running smoothly each and every night, 365 days out of the year.
As a customer, you never need to worry about any of this, but we thought you'd like to know that we have it covered. In the end, it is the seamless marriage of the two, world-class hardware and sophisticated software, which brings LightBuckets to life and allows us to deliver on our vision for you.