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16-Inch DFM Telescope

SBO Observing Deck

16-Inch Telescope
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16-Inch Telescope The 16-inch, f/12 Cassegrain telescope was added to the SBO collection of pier-mounted telescopes in 1987, after the roll-off roof addition to the student Observing Deck was completed. The telescope sits on a concrete pier which is isolated from the surrounding deck, and which extends two floors through the building into bedrock - placing both it and the 18-inch on a "rock-solid" foundation.

Like the 18-inch along side it, this telescope is a product of DFM Engineering, and includes a computer controller (originally an Apple IIe, now a 486 PC) that permits accurate acquisition and tracking of celestial objects with a few keystrokes.

In fact, both the 16-inch and 18-inch telescopes operate under virtually identical software packages and telescope control systems (TCS) hardware - so that learning to "drive" one telescope is equivalent to learning the other. The 16-inch has a built-in "library" of the 225 most popular celestial objects, including all objects in the Messier and the Mullaney & McCall catalogs. For other objects, such as planets, the telescope may either be aimed via handpaddle controls, or by keying in the desired coordinates to the computer.

Pointing accuracy is good to about 20 arc-seconds (the separation between a car's headlights seen from 10 miles away!), and the TCS system automatically handles pointing adjustments to compensate for precession (the wobble of the Earth's axis) and atmospheric refraction (which elevates the apparent location of an image above the true direction to the object). Here are the hardware specifications for the telescope.

The16-inch is used primarily for visual observations, although it is easily fitted to accommodate 35mm cameras for conventional astrophotography. Shown below is the TCS control system from which the operator runs the telescope.


TCS Controls


16-Inch Operations Manual

of the 16-inch telescope, available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format


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