Since the very first design phases, remote observing has been one of our goals for VATT. This would allow the telescope to be operated by an off-site user, for example, someone in our offices in Castel Gandolfo, Italy. In 1993 when the telescope first began scientific operation, however, the hardware support and network infrastructure was simply not available to insure safe operation of the telescope.
Technology has improved significantly in the last 15 years, though, and we're proud to announce that the VATT had its fully-remote observing session. Last night Rich Boyle SJ, one of the astronomers at the Vatican Observatory, ran the telescope from his office in Tucson, AZ, 70 miles away from the telescope in our first fully-remote observing session ever. While there is more work that needs to be done before this becomes routine, in particular, several safety systems are not yet accessible remotely, this is an important first step toward making our telescope to off-site observers.
Rich Boyle SJ, an observer at the Vatican Observatory, on the first night of remote observing at VATT. Rich is running the telescope from our offices in Tucson, AZ, 70 miles away from the telescope.