The Nat ional Research Council of Canada is offering amateur astronomers a chance to use the eight metre Gemini North scope and the 3.6 metre Canada-France-Hawaii telescopes atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The winning club will earn an hour of time on either scope.
To win, each club has to submit a proposal explaining how they would use their scope time to capture images, why they need the big telescopes, and how the picture could be used to promote science education and an interest in astronomy.
John Nemy of The Pacific Observatory and Whistler Astronomy Club, has submitted two proposals, one for each scope. The first proposal is to use the 3.6-metre scope to take images of the Stephens Quintet region of the sky.
"To our knowledge there has never been a wide field photo take of the Stephens Quintet region of the sky with this kind of imaging power," explained Nemy.
The image should reveal 15 different galaxies in high-resolution detail, captured by a digital camera that offers the equivalent of 340 megapixels.
The clubs proposal for the Gemini telescope, which takes infrared pictures, is to snap a picture of the Bubble Nebula, a gigantic glowing cloud that is more than six light years across. A star in the interior of the Bubble Nebula is emitting a stellar wind of ionized gas, which will glow in the infrared spectrum.
The deadline for the proposals was Sept. 30, and a decision should be made by the National Research Council of Canada in the coming months.