DSW’s target audience is the average backyard astrophotographer who has a love for the hobby, usually has great equipment, but is plagued by poor skies. The lack of consistent clear skies results in equipment going idle for long stretches. When the weather does cooperate many imagers have to travel to remote locations, set up equipment from scratch, polar align, image, and tear it all down again at the end of the session. Imagers fortunate enough to have a home observatories don’t have the hassles of setting up for each session, but most locations lack quality skies.
DSW changes all this because we offer access to consistently clear skies and great seeing. Your equipment investment does not go to waste. We’ve built DSW with industry standard instrumentation and safety features and done so in a way to make it affordable for you without compromise. DSW provides imagers with great skies regardless of where they live. Our members today are from all over including Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, England, Germany, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, California, Georgia, North Carolina, Minnesota, Michigan, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
DSW promotes teamwork. Many of our imagers are actually part of “imaging teams”. An imaging team can be formed around your system, or you can join a team using a system owned by another DSW member. If you decide to build an imaging team around your own system (although it’s not required) we’ve proven out a few best practices that work:
- Share all data facilitated through a cloud storage service
- Vote on target selection
- Select one member as the primary system operator familiar with automated imaging programs (i.e., CCDAP, ACP, etc.)
- Final images are property of the processor
How to get involved
- Join an existing team (as low as $50/month). This is the easiest way to get involved and only requires you to find a team looking for members. DSW helps facilitate this process as needed. This website promotes team formation by allowing prospective members to post the equipment they’d be willing to install at DSW Interested members with complimentary equipment, or in some cases no equipment at all can post and apply to be a part of a team. We expect some teams to be 1 or 2 members, or in other cases the maximum of 7. Our experience tells us that between 3 and 7 is about right considering getting agreement on target selection, image integration requirements, image quality requirements, etc.
- Currently available DSW-Operated Teams. DSW staff operate 5 “in-house” systems that have limited availability. Some of our members host their own system and are members of the DSW in-house teams at the same time. There are 5 currently available options:
- PlaneWave CDK20 20″ w/ Carbon Truss and Fused Silica Mirrors + Apogee G07 + Adaptive Optics + Paramount MEII with Encoders ($3,600 / year)
- RC Optical 14.5″ Carbon Truss + SBIG STX-16803 + Adaptive Optics + Paramount ME ($2,400 / year)
- Astro-Physics RH-305 + FLI ML8300 +Paramount ME ($1,800 / year)
- Rokinon 135mm f/2.8 “Ultra Wide Field” + QSI583ws +Paramount ME ($600 / year)
- FSQ-106 + MyT + QSI683wsg-8 ($1,200 / year)
Remember, you get ALL imaging data, you PARTICIPATE in image selection, and we image EVERY clear night.
- Start a team. Anyone with suitable equipment can join DSW as an individual, or start an imaging team. This involves finding a core group of imagers who together have, or can acquire a complete imaging system. For example, one DSW imaging team utilizes TEC 160 owned by a member / founder from Texas with team members from Italy and China. This team shares the lease costs. All data is shared equally amongst the imaging team members.
- Setting up your system. DSW personnel are available to perform system installations if you can’t make the trip. We charge a nominal fee to do set-up and testing. The process typically requires 2-3 clear nights to complete. This includes the physical installation, network set-up, polar alignment, and calibrations as required (focuser, PEC, rotator, collimation, etc.) If you perform your own installation, DSW personnel will be on site to provide assistance. And finally, we provide lodging at the residence free of charge!
- Pricing. The hosting fee is $8,400/year. This fee includes electricity, network, support and site insurance. Members who form full teams of 7 effectively pay $100/mo/person although team financial arrangements are up to the team. This demonstrates one of our key principles: remote imaging can be affordable! Some of our imagers are members of more than one team.