The Global Jet Watch project
The Global Jet Watch project was instigated to explore the time-domain astrophysics of phenomena that vary on timescales of hours and days. One of our key science goals is to explore how matter behaves in the vicinity of the black holes that are at the hearts of microquasars in our Galaxy. The project is underpinned by the dedicated use of a world-unique collection of five 0.5-metre telescopes. The distribution of these telescopes is important: they are strategically separated in longitude round-the-world giving round-the-clock observations. Each of our five observatories is equipped with research-grade instrumentation including a bespoke spectrograph designed by Steve Lee of AAO. These spectrographs split up the light from our astronomical targets to reveal the physics (dynamics) and chemistry (different elements) of the phenomena we are investigating.
Four of our five observatories are located in boarding schools, and we encourage the girls and boys to participate in using the telescopes. After local bedtime, we operate the telescopes by remote control from HQ at the University of Oxford to gather in the round-the-clock data we need to achieve our astrophysics goals. A telescope is an invaluable resource in promoting interest in astronomy in particular and in science and engineering in general, and we hope that the legacy of our project will not just lie in the astrophysical results, but in inspiring a new generation of scientists.