Robotic Telescope Teacher Training




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Robotic Telescope
Teacher Training

Montana Learning Center and Montana State University are partnering to offer a free, non-credit online course for high school teachers interested in using a state-of-the-art robotic telescope and integrate image-capturing and research capabilities into their curriculum. High school teachers in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington are eligible for this unique learning opportunity.

This course gives teachers and their students unprecedented access to a world-class research facility, and teachers will learn how to use the observatory and capture images for student projects. These activities are suitable for any level of high school student, and range from astrophotography, to advanced research using photometry. The course will also instruct teachers on how to facilitate students’ contributions to publishable research.

A grant from the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline is funding the Montana Learning Center’s further development and presentation of this teacher training course, in collaboration with Montana State University’s National Teacher Enhancement Network.

Classroom Observatory will be taught online, enabling teachers across the four-state region to participate, regardless of location.

Classroom Observatory will introduce participants to robotic telescopes and teach them to:
•         remotely operate the Learning Center’s 16-inch, research-grade, Ritchey-Chretien telescope, located atop a mountain in New Mexico;
•         take, prepare, and evaluate astronomical images;
•         evaluate observing programs for their effectiveness in the classroom;
•         create a curriculum for classroom use of a robotic telescope;
•         research variable stars using photometric filters; and
•         submit research data to the American Association of Variable Star Observers (“AAVSO”) International Database.

The course provides participants up to 30 hours of renewal units through the Montana Office of Public Instruction. Upon successful completion of the course, teachers will be set up with an account for their students at the observatory.

Ryan Hannahoe, executive director of the Learning Center, and Peter Detterline, lead astronomy instructor for the Learning Center, teach the course.

In addition to the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline grant, the Learning Center received a donation by Christian Perez valued at $12,000 per year that allows the use of the Learning Center’s Ritchey-Chretien telescope for the new course. The Learning Center also received a donation from Mike and Lynn Rice of New Mexico Remote Observatories for the telescope’s hosting, valued at $18,000 per year.

The course will run from October 5, 2021, through November 21, 2021, and registration is available now.

Teachers can contact Ryan Hannahoe at for more information.

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