Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back on Sky

The major work on the Hale Telescope's mirror supports was completed late last week. The telescope and dome a needed few days to cool down back to nighttime temperatures before we were able to return the telescope to nighttime operations and measure how successful the project was. Nighttime operations resumed on Tuesday.

Above is the view from Tuesday night. The Moon is visible through the open dome slit and the lights are on in the telescope's Cassegrain cage.

Here is a short time-lapse of part of that night. There is just enough light in the dome to see that the engineering crew was putting the telescope through a wide range of motions.

There is a higher resolution version posted here.

All of this was done to test the effectiveness of the refurbished supports by focusing the telescope, measuring the forces the supports exert on the 200-inch mirror and to measure the mirror's shape as the telescope points at different places in the sky.

The early results look very good and (weather permitting) astronomical observations should return as scheduled Sunday night.

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