100-inch Hooker Telescope Observing
(October 8, 2012) -- Following on the popularity of the 60-inch telescope observing program, we are in the process of developing an enhanced observing program at the 100-inch Hooker telescope. The first step in this effort has been to design and fabricate an image relay system that will locate an eyepiece at a comfortable and safe position. The design of these re-imaging optics has been accomplished by CHARA's Senior Research Scientist Dr. Laszlo Sturmann with the collaboration of MWO's Deputy Director Dr. Arthur Vaughan and our Associate Deputy Director for Public Affairs Don Nicholson. Observatory Superintendent Dave Jurasevich has also participated in the effort to ready the telescope for this new program with the assistance of Ken Evans, Larry Evans, John Harrigan, and Dr. Nils Turner.
The optical relay system takes light from the north cassegrain port of the 100-inch and brings a new focus to a location easily accessible under the 100-inch mirror cell. It can be seen as the black tube on the left side of the telescope ending in an elbow bend (the white tube) under the primary mirror in the photo below. Look carefully and you can see Dave and Laszlo standing on the mirror cover inside the telescope.
The new arrangement was first tested on Friday evening, October 5, 2012, when Laszlo, Dave, Don and the undersigned gathered at the telescope. We observed Vega, which had been the target star when George Ellery Hale and his colleagues first tested the telescope in 1917, the globular star cluster M15, the "Ring Nebula" in Lyra (M57), an the "Blinking Planetary Nebula" (NGC 6826). From this first test, it is clear that this will open a great new window on the Universe from Mount Wilson. In the photo below, Dave and Don watch as Laszlo measures the wavefront quality of the re-imaging optics.
This details of this new program are still being worked out and will be announced later this fall. It is not intended to replace or compete with our 60-inch program and will enable an incomparable and premium new kind of experience for individuals and groups at Mount Wilson Observatory. All of us are excited to be able to offer this incredible new opportunity for visitors to Mount Wilson Observatory.
Be sure to check back in our News from Mount Wilson menu for further announcements.
Hal McAlister, Director