Slooh

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Overview

I have recently signed up for an account at Slooh, an observatory rental business with locations primarily in the Canary Islands, but with 1 scope also in Chile for viewing southern skies. I'll try to review the service here, as well as gather some of the better images I get. Since I live in Cincinnati the weather is often bad and the light pollution is always bad. I would really love to set up my own dedicated scope, and really would if I had decent seeing here. In fact I've considered several options, but anything within a reasonable distance to me also has these problems, and the place I would love to be Deep Sky West is more expensive than I can currently justify. But maybe someday. In the meantime Sloohlets me indulge my inters at a reasonable cost.

Images

Click here to view my astronomy images.

Review of Slooh Service

Slooh has an interesting model. All of the below was correct, to the best of my ability, when I looked at the service in April of 2019 (it might have changed, or I might misunderstand something, but this is what I found).

Locations
The primary location is in the Canary Islands, on Tenerife, atop Mount Teibe, at about 8,000' at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC). Here they have 5 scopes, 4 night scopes and 1 solar telescope - but I have yet to see an image from that one, so I'm not sure it's operational. The other current (April 2019) location is in La Dehesa, Chile (near Santiago) for viewing southern skies, with only 1 scope.

Telescopes

Chile One
Canary One
Canary Two
Canary Three
Canary Four
Canary Five
Field
Wide-Field
Half Meter
Wide-Field
Deep Sky
Solar System
Solar Teleschope
Type
Schmidt-Cassegrain
Catadioptric (SCT)
Corrected Dall-Kirkham
Corrected Dall-Kirkham
Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph
Schmidt-Cassegrain Catadioptric
(SCT) Edge-HD
H-Alpha Double Stacked Refractor
Maker/Size
Celestron
PlaneWave
PlaneWave
Celestron
Celestron
Lunt
Aperature
355.6mm (14")
508mm (20")
432mm (17")
279mm (11")
355.6mm (14")
60mm (2.36")
Focal Length
3910mm (154")
3454mm (135.98")
2938mm (115.71")
620mm
3910mm (154")
500mm (19.7")
Focal Ratio
f/11
f/6.8
f/6.8
f/2.22
f/11
f/8.3
Camera
SBIG STL-11000M
Finger Lakes PL09000
Finger Lakes PL16803
Celestron Nightscape
8300 Colour
SBIG STT-8300M
Celestron Skyris 236
High-Frame-Rate Video
CCD
Kodak KAI-11000
Kodak KAF-09000
Kodak KAF-16803
Kodak KAF-8300C
Kodak KAF-8300
Sony EXMOR IMX236 CMOS
Resolution
H-4008/V-2672 (actual 1336/891)
H-3056/V-3056 (actual 1018/1018)
H-4096/V-4096 (actual 2048/2048)
H-3326/V-2504 (actual TBC/TBC)
H-3326/V-2504 (actual TBC/TBC)
H-1920/V-1200 (actual 1920/1200)
Field-Secondary
Ultra-Wide-Field
Ultra-Wide-Field
Type-Secondary
Apochromatic Refractor
Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Maker/Size-Secondary
Takahashi 90mm (3.4")
TeleVue 85mm (3.3")
Focal Length-Secondary
405mm (16")
595mm (23.4")
Focal Ratio-Secondary
f/4.5
f/7
Camera-Secondary
SBIG ST-2000XM
SBIG ST-10XME
CCD-Secondary
Kodak KAI-2020
Kodak KAF-3200E (Class 1)
Resolution-Secondary
H-1600/V-1200 (actual 800/600)
H-2184/V-1472 (acutal 1092/736)


Pricing Tiers
Currently their are 2 tiers. Actually, it's 'kind of' 3, you can sign up for a community account, which appears to let you login to the Forums, which honestly are pretty bare, and view what the telescopes are aimed at. I played with this a bit before signing up for the entry-level account, so I know that basically works, and whets the appetite as it were, but you don't get a lot of features. You for sure don't get to point the scopes, and I'm pretty sure you don't get to save the large images, but I didn't fully explore all of that before deciding to sign up for the 1 month trial of the "Apprentice" tier.

Apprentice
This tier is $4.95/mo as of this writing, and offers a 1 month trial. I think both tiers also offer a 2 month discount if you pay for a year in advance. I also saw elsewhere that you must have a valid credit card on file at all times or your subscription is halted, but I can't find that documented, and it appears they now support PayPal so maybe that isn't true anymore. This tier allows you to schedule 5, 5 minute "Missions" a month, and "Piggyback" on up to 5 more. You can always also drop in live and view what the scopes are seeing, and take snapshots (I believe you cannot take pictures with the free tier), but your missions and piggybacks will automatically take images for you if you're away (asleep, etc.).

Astronomer
This tier is $24.95/mo, and allows "Unlimited" missions, but it has a 5-at-a-time scheduling limit. I haven't found a great way to view the raw schdule, camera-by-camera, but it does feel like you could probably get a date of a special event most likely. Because of the way scheduling works, it encrourages folks to not too far out in the future. Since you can only have 5 active reservations, once you book 5 you're stuck until the first one kicks off. If, on the other hand, you scheduled all 5 for tonight, once the first one starts you can use that one again. So, if the sixth time slot were available you could tack it onto your reservation in a rolling fashion. Now, as a practical matter that's mostly not going to happen, but it does encourage you to burn them sooner rather than later. Now, something really special like an eclipse 3 months from now probably will get booked, but I would expect (and will report back with experience) that those future dates are relatively easy to get.