We're a tiny community college looking to setup fully remote video astronomy program.
The idea is we do live video broadcasts via the internet as well has have students and faculty "log in" to the remote telescope to be able to control it e.g. command it to point at a new object. I inherited a fork mounted Meade 16" LX200 classic (the 18-volt circa 1990s era f10 version on an alt-az permanent pier) as well as the dome itself - the whole building. It has mains electricity and Internet. I need to automate the dome, probably via TheSkyX dome module and associated SBIG dome hardware? I need to have weather safety for automatically closing the dome, etc. The mount needs to not get 'lost in space' nor tangle itself up in its own cords, never point at the sun, etc. Must be reasonably safe to be operated (fully remotely) by sane but unskilled students. Must be accurate enough from night to night; I can't go there and do a star-alignment each night. There's going to be nobody in the dome.
1. How critical is having a fast f-ratio for video astronomy? I've herd very differing opinions on this.
2. Is f6.3 fast enough to get reasonable sub-minute frames of brighter deep sky objects? If a kid has to wait 5 minutes for the first frame the "live" aspect is lost.
3. Should I sell the old LX200 and get something like a C11 RASA + goodies on a Paramount instead? (I lean toward Bisque just for their linux support.)
4. Recommendations on remotely operable focusers?
We'd like to run an all linux (raspberry pi) dome - if possible. I know TheSkyX works on raspberry pi linux, as do ZWO cameras (I'm told). Our budget $15-20k. I'm a pretty skilled DIY type of guy, a software programmer and have been in astronomy for years.