ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
30 Inch (0.76m) AutoScope
ARI, Eastern Illinois University and Hands-on Universe in cooperation with the University of Chicago Yerkes Observatory and Argonne National Laboratory will be commissioning a 30 inch (0.76m) AutoScope that will be used for education and research. The telescope was built in the late 1980s has not been used for over a decade due to a lightning strike that took out all the electronics including the CCD camera. This telescope will be fully automated and will be in service at ARO in the summer of 2009. This instrument will be used exclusively for teacher and student research programs including asteroid, NEO astrometric and photometric light curve studies, stellar photometry, supernova and active galactic nuclei research.
The telescope optical design is a Ritchey-Chrétien operating at f/6.65 and will employ a SBIG STL-1001E as the primary imaging device. The field of view in this configuration is 16.6 x 16.6 minutes. This telescope is a twin to the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT).
While many regard Illinois as poor site for astronomical research, ARO statistics in 2008 prove otherwise. In the past year ARO operated 187 nights and was the most productive NEO follow-up program in the world. In three years ARO in has progressed from 1,424th place to 8th in the world in total NEO measures. In light of these statistics ARO is a good choice for the 30 inch AutoScope based on total number of clear nights, average seeing and very low cost operations. The telescope will be housed in a lowcost roll-off roof observatory that will allow access to the entire sky without the additional complication of a synchronized dome. In addition, ARO plans to re-locate all instrumentation to a much darker site in 2009. See an ARO light pollution map of the current location and the proposed darker site with 21.69 magnitudes per arc/sec and 6.3 magnitude stars observed in November 2008.
All black and white photos were taken during the original construction phase and are courtesy of the University of California Berkeley.
30 inch AutoScope at Fenton Hill
Detail of cabling and electronics - Fenton Hill photograph
AutoScope with mirror and tower removed
Center section and mirror support component
30 inch cellular blank
Secondary mirror focusing system
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