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Astronomical Research Observatory

0.81m Telescope -  32 Inch Telescope 


Photo by John Stone


32 inch telescope MKS 4000     32 inch telescope

Astro-Research 32in Robotic Telescope

The Astro-Research 32 inch telescope ( 0.81 meter ) can reach an unfiltered limiting magnitude of  22.18 magnitude in a five minute exposure using a SBIG STL-1001E.   This capability was confirmed on August 5,  2006 while imaging NEO 2001 PJ9. 

The first optician we selected for this project was a total failure leaving us will a completed mirror that had severe astigmatism, surface scratches and roughness after 18 months in their west coast ( California) optical shop.  Finally after months of begging just to get our mirror blank returned to us, we finally hooked up with a reputable optician who completed the 0.81m mirror for us in less than 30 days!  The optician...  Mike Lockwood of Lockwood Custom Optics.  This telescope is regarded as one of the worlds top performing instruments in 2008 conducting near earth object follow-up observations with measures to unfiltered magnitude 23.7.


32 inch telescope

M 16 - Eagle Nebula - Exposure time 4 seconds

First image from the Astro-Research 0.81m ( 32 inch ) telescope


Installing the 32" telescope in the observatory

Lifting the 32" base  Lowering the 32 inch Base

Lifting the base unit with a 20 ton crane.    Lowering base unit into the observatory


 32 inch telescope     32 inch telescope

Mounting the base unit to the 12 ton concrete pier.     Lowering fork into observatory.


32 inch telescope

Mounting the fork to the polar shaft and base unit.  View is from the computer room.


32 inch telescope

Tightening bolts to attach the 700 pound fork to the base assembly.


32 inch telescope

Lifting the center section with the crane.   

     32 inch telescope

Fitting the center section to the telescope fork.

Thanks go to John Pratte (pictured above) for all his help on this long term project.   All total it took less than 3 hours to lift and assemble the 3 major components of the 32" telescope.   Additional components have been all been installed including the drive systems, mirror cell and the truss tubes.  The observatory building is now complete with carpet in the computer room and glass in the telescope viewing windows.  The internet and telephone connections are now functional.  We look forward to providing students with first rate cutting edge research quality data in the 2007-2008 school year.


   32 inch telescope   32 inch telescope

Subject: Lockwood Custom Optics fabricator of the 32 inch primary mirror.


Instrumentation Design

Design of the Astro-Research (0.81 meter) 32" f/4.60 Telescope

Mirror Diameter 0.81 meter (32")
Focal Length 128.2 inches
Central Obstruction 6.55" Prime Focus CCD Camera 8.6%
Mirror Specifications
Waves Of Correction Primary Mirror 11.56
Mirror Sagitta 0.4
Airy Disk Size (Microns) 6.7
Aperture Size In Square Inches 804 sq. inches
Telescope Specifications 
Light Gathering X Human Eye 16,384
5 min exp. Approx  CCD Limiting Magnitude 90% Probability 21.74 unfiltered
5 min exp. Approx  CCD Limiting Magnitude 10% Probability 22.12 unfiltered
Theoretical Resolution 0.143"
Field Of View With a SBIG STL-1001E  CCD Camera 25.6' x 25.6'
CCD Resolution  of the SBIG STL-1001E            (24 micron pixels) 1.34 arc sec/pixel
Tube Design Open Truss
Optical Baffling Primary, Camera
Mount Specifications
Mount Type Fork Mount
RA Drive Size 32" Diameter
Dec Drive Size 32" Diameter
Pointing Accuracy 9.25 arc sec RMS
Tracking Accuracy < 1 arc sec - 300 sec
Fully Robotic Slew and Image
Drive Electronics Software Bisque MKS 4000

Subject:  Software Bisque MKS 4000

1st year of operation 2006-2007

As of June 26th 2007, the Astronomical Research Institute (ARI)  32 inch (0.81m) telescope has been operating for one year with a Software Bisque MKS 4000 controlling a 2 ton telescope.  Without question this telescope control system rivals the quality of major professional observatories.  During this first year of operation the following statistics have emerged.

             21,097 slews were commanded

             17,436 science frames taken

             871 hours of imaging time

             124 nights of operation

             Faintest moving object (NEO) on three images V = 23.6

 During this first year of operation not one telephone call or email was sent to Software Bisque regarding setup or operation of the MKS 4000.  In the first year the MKS 4000 functioned perfectly on every one of the 21,097 slews.  Not a single hic-cup occurred while tracking or slewing using the Telescope Control System.  Even if the main computer went down, and it did, the MKS 4000 kept on tracking and told the computer where it was without homing after re-boot.  During the first year only one T-point model was ran to increase pointing accuracy.  The MKS 4000 functioned so well that we never instituted PEC and never enacted ProTrack.

The MKS 4000 by Software Bisque has been operating for over 4 years without a single failure.  Clearly this is a testament to the quality and engineering of this telescope control system.  The 1.3m (50 inch) telescope currently under construction at ARO will use the same telescope controller.