The DFM Team has completed the Austin College 24" telescope installation. It is now the most prominent feature of the new IDEA Center in the Adams Observatory.
The IDEA Center is a three-story science building designed for interactive learning and interdisciplinary studies including advanced laboratory-classrooms, an auditorium, and the Adams Observatory. "However, the building's most prominent feature, the powerful telescope and the large dome that protects the instrument from the elements, steals the show," said Dr. David Baker.
Dr. David Baker, Professor of Physics and Physics Department Chair, has monitored the progress of the IDEA Center and the Adams Observatory from its inception. "The construction progress was very exciting and now our new observatory is equipped with a state-of-the-art 24" DFM telescope providing a window to the universe," he said.
DFM Engineering designed and manufactured the 24" research grade telescope and installed it ahead of schedule. The DFM installation team, Mark S. Kelley and Richard Neel, arrived on campus mid-week prior to the scheduled date so as to examine the observatory, inspect the pier and prepare for the installation process.
Thursday, August 1st was the big crane installation day. The morning was calm and clear. It was perfect weather for the giant crane to lift and carefully lower each piece of the telescope through the opening in the observatory dome.
Assembly and installation of the new telescope was very efficient since DFM thoroughly assembles and tests all telescopes before delivery at the manufacturing facility in Longmont, Colorado.
With Mark secured at the dome opening, he carefully guided each telescope section through the opening to Richard.
Richard, who was stationed within the observatory, in turn, positioned the pieces for final assembly.
The telescope pedestal was the first section of the telescope to be brought into the observatory.
It weighs approximately 1,200 pounds and is bolted to the pier on the floor of the observatory.
For more information about the criteria for pier placement and observatory design, please see "Observatory Design", written by Dr. Frank Melsheimer.
The equatorial fork mount was the second telescope section to be lowered into the observatory.
It weighs approximately 800 pounds and is attached to the pedestal assembly.
The equatorial fork mount offers numerous advantages over other telescope mount designs.
The equatorial fork mount is very versatile. It can be used visually, with instruments or remotely.
Please contact us or visit our Equatorial Fork Mount page for more information.
The telescope optical tube assembly and mirror cell make up the most critical element of the telescope.
This center section houses the mirror cell and weighs approximately 1,000 pounds.
Because of the size and quality of the mirror, it is one of the most expensive components of the instrument.
It must be handled with extreme care. The DFM technicians are experts in this type of installation with years of experience.
Once all the large telescope sections are lowered into the observatory, final assembly begins. A smaller crane within the observatory is built to lift each telescope section into final assembly position.
After the telescope is assembled, the control system is connected for operation. It is during this phase where electrical and mechanical testing is completed.
The final testing phase begins with finding focus in the main optics and alignment of the finder telescope. A data set was taken which allowed the DFM team to determine any residual Azimuth and Elevation misalignments.
The telescope is equipped with convenient automated remote control features of both the observatory and the telescope.
It features a remote display, keyboard and mouse, along with remote dome azimuth and shutter control to allow slaving of the dome to the telescope and a high-resolution image camera.
The DFM telescope system offers access to navigation signals transmitted by orbiting satellites.
This allows for precise position calculations called GPS time synchronization or Global Positioning System. GPS is a fleet of more than 24 communications satellites that transmit signals globally around the clock.
GPS technology is used for high precision timing and measurement of event simultaneity.
Another feature of the new 24" DFM telescope is the Articulated Relay Eyepiece (ARE-125™) created by Dr. Frank Melsheimer, President of DFM Engineering.
It allows access to the telescope by a wheelchair bound person and fulfills the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ARE-125™ uses a series of relay lenses and folding mirrors to reposition the telescope focal plane a considerable distance from the tailpiece of the telescope.
A person seated in a wheel chair may simply pick up the eyepiece and bring it to their eye for convenient viewing regardless of telescope position.
The DFM team was able to demonstrate RMS pointing of better than 12 arc seconds confirming the tracking performance of the telescope.
And the sessions for staff training on the new telescope were lively and productive.
Austin College officials anticipate the Adams Observatory, now equipped with a state-of the-art 24" DFM telescope will provide a 'window to the universe' for the students and faculty.
"The IDEA Center will allow further outreach to the larger community and school children all across North Texas!" Dr. Baker said.
The celestial enthusiast and stargazing author confirmed that the school intends to open the telescope for public use: “We plan on having public nights … I envision our first public event will be in spring of next year," said Dr. Baker. "We hope it’ll be a destination.”
Watch the install video!
Standard 24" Telescope Features
Standard Classical Cassegrain Telescopes
Telescope Control Systems (TCSGalil™)
Articulated Relay Eyepiece™ (ARE-125™)
Observatory Design and Consulting