Alnitak Research Telescope Access Program

Alnitak Research Telescope Access (ARTA) program allocates times on telescopes on a best effort basis, allowing students, professional researchers and astronomy amateurs to conduct high-precision photometry, astrometry, and multiband imaging for educational and scientific purposes. Our A1 telescope is equipped with photometric UBVRI filters, and it can provide imaging in LRGB and narrowband H-alpha, [O III] and [S II] lines.

ARTA awards telescope time on a proposal-based system. There are no costs to register an Alnitak account, and you do not have to be actively purchasing any Alnitak services to apply for telescope time within the program. Instructions for submitting a proposal can be found below. The only requirement we have is that your project is educational or scientific in nature.

Using Alnitak Telescopes

Once your proposal is accepted, the requested amount of credits will be allocated to your Alnitak account. Similarly to how you would use credits purchased within the Alnitak system, you will need to select the telescope, create an observing plan and schedule your observation to a particular day and time via the reservation system in the Alnitak Portal. The telescope will process the reservation and obtain images, and your account will only be debited for credits for the actual imaging time delivered.

The images we return will be automatically calibrated with bias, flats and dark frames. These images will be available for downloading via the Alnitak Portal, or via your FTP account which will be automatically created. These images can then be used with your astrometry and photometry software of choice, such as AAVSO VPhot, AstroImageJ, MetroPSF or others. In case you are conducting general target imaging, these images can be further processed in software like PixInsight.

Writing a proposal

Please sign up for Alnitak account, if you haven’t done so already, and write an e-mail to with the subject “ARTA”.

Please include your proposal in a free form. Though writing a proposal might seem intimidating at first, our review process is not as strict or competitive as the review process at many other observatories.

The main purpose of submitting the proposal is to provide guidance for our staff and the volunteers helping us to determine the suitability of our instruments and the capabilities of the ARTA program. For this reason, you should include the following details in your request:

  • E-mail address associated with your Alnitak account
  • Describe the target and its magnitude
  • How frequently you would like the target to be observed?
  • What is the duration of the project?
  • Which filters do you want to use?

You are welcome to include any additional details, but this is fully optional.

Please note that due to that the telescope time is provided on a free of charge basis, the ARTA program will much more likely approve short-term projects that do not occupy the telescope for any prolonged amount of time during the night. For long-term research projects we recommend pursuing another program, we would be happy with an advice as well.

Your proposal doesn’t need to be perfect. If there is an issue with your proposal, we will let you know, and work with you to help improve your submission.

Acknowledging Alnitak Usage

If you use Alnitak data in a publication, please include the following text in the Acknowledgements section:

“Observations were made using Alnitak Remote Observatories robotic telescope network, ARTA program.”

Is ARTA Program Right for Your Project?

Suitable use cases

The ARTA program is suitable for photometry and astrometry of any targets in the sky – variable stars, quasars, minor planets, comets, artificial and other objects, as well as general narrowband and broadband imaging.

For photometry and astrometry, we generally approve targets of 6 < Vmag < 18 without requiring any additional justification. For brighter or dimmer targets, consider other options available, such as the AAVSO Bright Star Monitor or the Faint Star Monitor.

Proposals for imaging of new objects for the purpose of potential new object confirmation or tracking of changes within a known object are likely to be approved, including deep field requests.

Not suitable

We are much more likely to approve project that require single or few exposures per night. For projects that require timeseries or long-exposure imaging occupying the telescope for prolonged amount of time we would recommend to use another Alnitak program.

Please note proposals for primarily aesthetic astrophotography, especially of well-known targets, would not be considered under the ARTA. We would recommend to seek commercial access to Alnitak telescopes for this purpose, which can be a highly cost-efficient method to access quality instruments hosted under dark sky locations with good seeing.