DFM Engineering, Inc.
1035 Delaware Ave. Unit D
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 303-678-8143
Fax: 303-772-9411

Installing the Emory 24-Inch Telescope


The Installation Schedule:

There were significant difficulties with the telescope pier and dome which were apparent immediately upon our first look at the dome on Friday afternoon (9/27). The architect and building contractor had conspired to place a corner of a concrete elevator shaft such that it intruded into the dome directly behind the telescope pier and interfered with the telescope structure by almost 5 inches.

(Maybe because the elevator shaft didn't interfere with the pier, nobody had realized this was a problem. Regardless, the all important Sunday crane day was canceled.)

We worked with the Physics machine shop personnel over Saturday and Sunday to modify our sole plate and their pier to work around the problem. The physics shop machinists were extremely motivated, well equipped, and skillful.

The solution left the telescope 6 inches North of where it should have been in the dome, and we were able to modify our dome control algorithm software to compensate. The pier and sole-plate modifications were accomplished successfully.

The crane was rescheduled for Tuesday night because Emory couldn't close the road on a week day. We explained to Dr. DuVarny that we had never done the crane work at night, but we felt it would not be a problem.

By helping the college and working with them, we were able to complete the installation of the telescope within the original installation schedule.


The installation was about average difficulty. It was a balmy night in Atlanta and the crane arrived at 8 pm. The road closed at 8:30 and the crane began setting up. We started the lifts at ~10:30 and the last lift was finished at ~1 am.

DFM had a 3 man crew on site: Don Groff, Jack L'Abbe, and Mark Kelley. The crane was huge. It arrived along with a flatbed trailer pulled by a semi-tractor and an auxiliary hydraulic crane to assist in assembly of the big crane. In addition to the main crane driver, there were 4 other crew members from the crane company.

Alignment, testing:
We had just enough clear sky to perform our normal alignment and testing. The fundamental alignment of the pier was very close to true North so the polar alignment went quickly.

Pointing model tune-up was limited by available sky but we achieved 18 arc second RMS pointing to meet our "better than 30 arc second specification". Optical alignment time was very limited but the image production looked good.

Operation training: Emory had a number of extremely motivated individuals who participated in training and they have been having a great time with the telescope since we left.

Customer Satisfaction and Performance Demonstration:
Because the telescope was so well prepared before it left DFM, all of the features contracted just worked when we turned them on. This is the first full sized DFM telescope installed with our new Windows™ based software and the new software was a big success with the customer too.

First Light Images:

The physics faculty, staff, and students at Emory were thrilled!

The department secretary was there for the crane work. Their machinists were there for the lifts and night time testing.

The department chairman, Dr. Ray DuVarney reported that the new math and science building with its observatory and DFM telescope were the culmination of many years of work.


Emory University

Emory University Department of Physics Astronomy

Emory University Department of Physics Observatory