In the last year, I’ve spent hundreds of hours working on astronomy and astrophotography projects. It’s been fun and edifying, and I’ve been lucky to benefit from a litany of inexpensive (sometimes free) tools that others have built and made available, enabling me to use my telescope much more effectively and efficiently than if I had to do everything by hand or write all my own software from scratch.
And yet, in spite of these resources, my abilities as an astronomer are largely a function not of what is available to me, but of my prior experiences. If not for having an engineering background, if not for having preexisting interests in mathematics and physics, if not for having disposable income to throw toward the skies, and if not for having the time between work, sleep, and being a husband to wade through hundreds of pages of advice on internet forums – if not for all of these things, I would still be looking at the stars with little more than my naked eyes.
Making Space Easy to Study
I’d like to make space study less a function of one’s background, and more a function of one’s interest. In a world where smooth glass is mass produced, where electronics drop in price every day, and where “software is eating the world,” there’s no good reason for observing the skies to be such an elite activity.
I’ve begun a project to make it easier for anyone to study space. If this can be achieved, I think it will lead to more people entering and contributing to the sciences, and it will accelerate the pace at which we learn about the cosmos. Some important milestones toward this mission are:
- Make it easier for savvy astronomers to use their own telescopes, so they use them more often.
- Make it easy for anyone to use their own telescope.
- Make it easy for anyone to use someone else’s telescope.
- Make remote controlling of telescopes easy and affordable, so that any telescope can be placed where it will capture the best data, rather than where a human can most easily operate it.
- Assemble a global network of telescopes, massively increasing equipment inventory, and decoupling researchers’ viewing conditions from their physical locations.
- Unleash the power of basic AI and machine learning for celestial studies, removing human bottlenecks of control, data entry, and analysis.
- Give university astronomy departments and other research institutions more scope time than they have today for less money than they spend today.
- Use more sophisticated AI and machine learning with the telescope network to autonomously hypothesize, validate and record celestial phenomena all around us.
If these goals are reached, the amount of space under direct human observation should increase by an order of magnitude, as should the pace at which we learn about our universe, our origins, our planet, and ourselves.
I have some ideas for achieving each of these goals and the larger mission, and I will lay them out here as a holistic plan in due time. I will begin with the first goal I mentioned, which provides utility to the existing astronomy community, and unlocks the door to the other goals on this list.
Get in Touch
If you are interested in helping with this project, please email me.