This project is solving the Robotic Observatory challenge. Description
The goal is that anyone, with the desire to learn from outer space, can observe astronomical objects with this application. Aq'anoq is a word from maya k'ich'e translated into “above”. The observatory was called with this word because it is connected with our philosophy of “Astronomy and Science for everyone” considering that the maya population in our country does not have enough access to education at any level, therefore, no access to any astronomy facility.
We started by hacking a destroyed telescope and building our own electronics to adapt it to the telescope. It can be used with equatorial mounts or an altazimuthal mounts. We also developed the software to provide access through a webpage, hence any person in the world could use the modified telescope.
Through an android phone camera, we take images from the telescope and stream them in a web server mounted on a Raspberry Pi. Also, sensors from the mobile phone were used to align the telescope to the north celestial pole, as a reference to track stars. The Raspberry Pi also was the intermediary between the phone and an Arduino microcontroller, controlling the mechanics of the telescope. We programmed the Arduino UNO to read an encoder and this gets the exact position of the telescope by a close loop to set it towards the right coordinates. This was possible converting, with Python scripts, the equatorial coordinates from a celestial catalog to altazimuth coordinates, taking into account the time and our position at earth.
Many people in our team have worked on astronomy outreach across the country. Hence the main motivation of our project was to get people from Guatemala involved into the project. Aq'anoq is not only an invitation to explore the universe above us, it is also a step towards development through education and science.
License: GNU General Public License version 3.0 (GPL-3.0)
Source Code/Project URL: https://github.com/rolivajr/aqanoq
#ObservatorioUSAC Twitter Hashtag - https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Observatoriousac&src
Photos Aq'anoq Observatory - http://aqanoqastronomy.tumblr.com/