The Oakley Observatory houses eight permanently mounted telescopes. Each pier has parallel, serial, and Internet connections along with electrical outlets.
The piers are numbered for easy identification of the telescopes and control computers, and to assign student groups.
Our No. 1 telescope is the 6-inch Clark refractor. Alvan Clark (1804-87) and his two sons, Alvan Graham and George Bassett, were famous for making the best telescopes, as well as the largest telescopes of the time. Hans Eppinger of Hughes Optical Products, Inc. donated the optical tube assembly of the Clark refractor to Rose-Hulman in 1990. At the time, there was no mount for the telescope, so it was mounted on a wall in Moench Hall as a decoration. Later, the telescope was completely refurbished and placed on a Meade LX750 Mount in the old observatory dome. The Clark is now on a Paramount ME computer controlled mount manufactured by Software Bisque and is used mainly for visual observing. However, a STL-6303E CCD camera from Santa Barbara Instrument Group is available for imaging. We also have solar filter for viewing sunspots.
The No. 2 telescope is an 8-inch Fecker telescope, which was donated to the institute in 1961 by Mr. Crawford Failey, president of Wabash Reality, Inc. The telescope was the first telescope in the original observatory dome. It is now on a Paramount ME mount. The optical system seems to be a Newtonian layout, parabolic primary with a plane secondary mirror, with a Cassegrain focus, through a hole in the primary. Like the Clark, this telescope is used for visual observing.
J.W. Fecker was one of the first to perfect the construction of the Schmidt camera. He started his own business in Cleveland in the 1920s. J.W. Fecker, Inc. built a 24-inch telescope for Arizona State College and a 38-inch Cassegrain for Butler University.
Five of the remaining six telescopes are 14-inch Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain optical systems on Paramount ME mounts. The Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope is named for Bernhard Schmidt, a German astronomer, and Sieur Cassegrain, a French sculptor. Light enters through a collecting plate. The correcting plate is a thin, aspheric correction lens. The corrected light passes through the optical tube to a spherical primary mirror and then back up to the tube to a convex secondary mirror. The light is returned back down the scope through a hole in the primary mirror.
The No. 3, 4, and 8 telescopes are set up with a CCD camera from Santa Barbara Instrument Group (STL-1001E). The camera has a built-in filter wheel for taking color images. These telescopes are used for imaging deep sky objects and for research.
Telescopes No. 5 and 6 are also 14-inch Celestrons on Paramount ME mounts. Unlike the previously mentioned telescopes this pair is used primarily for visual observing. We do have an SBIG STL-4020M camera available for use on either of these telescopes. Telescope No. 6 was donated by Larry Dultz of Terre Haute.
Before the 14-inch telescopes were installed in the No. 5 and 6 spots, we had 11-inch Celestrons mounted. Unlike the 14-inch version, the 11-inch Celestron does not come with mirror lock-down bolts. To see how we added these bolts check out: Mirror Lock-down Bolts for Celestron Telescopes. The 11-inch telescopes are now in storage.
Telescope No. 7 is a 20-inch Ritchey Chretien telescope from RC Optical. This is our newest telescope. It is used primarily for deep sky imaging with an STL-1001E CCD camera. This telescope is identical to the telescope in the Oakley Southern Sky Observatory and is helpful for debugging problems with the telescope in Australia.
12-inch Meade LX200
Oakley observatory has two 12-inch Meade LX 200 telescopes. These telescopes were funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant from the Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement program. We have Santa Barbara Instrument Group ST-6 cameras and filter wheels for these telescopes. The LX 200s were originally our No. 3 and 4 telescopes, but have been replaced by the Celestron telescopes described above.
The Oakley Observatory also has a 10-inch Newtonian telescope on a Dobsonian mount. This portable telescope is used for visual observing. We frequently take it to elementary schools or to local parks for star parties. The telescope has a solar filter so it can also be used during the day to view sunspots.
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