New Telescope at Armagh Observatory
"Being asked to recommend and provide research-grade equipment for an Institution as prestigious as Armagh Observatory is quite an undertaking", says Simon Bennett of The Widescreen Centre.
The new telescope is the first major new such instrument to be installed at the Observatory for nearly a hundred years. The astronomers used the telescope on the 1st February to record images of the Andromeda galaxy, the Pleiades, and other nebulae and star clusters, and to demonstrate that all major telescope systems are operating as designed.
The new telescope is a PlaneWave CDK and has a 43-cm (17-inch) primary mirror and a 16-Megapixel CCD camera from UK company Starlight Xpress. It is housed in a 3.5m Sirius Observatory Dome to the south of the main Observatory building. Its installation complements the Observatory's existing Polar Bear and Meteor Patrol cameras, which are already automatically gathering data whenever the sky is clear, as well as the much older telescopes and telescope domes.
Simon Jeffery, project scientist for the new telescope, said: "After two years of hard work, it is very satisfying to see the first images looking so good. Seeing the core of the Andromeda galaxy spread right across our first frame was immensely rewarding. We still have a lot of work to do, but we can eagerly anticipate exciting science coming from the Armagh skies."
The telescope will be used for research in both Solar System science and stellar and Galactic astrophysics. Mark Bailey, the Director of the Observatory, said: "This is an important development in the Observatory's research capability. Ten years ago it would hardly have been possible to make research-quality observations from Armagh, but now, with fast, modern computers and highly sensitive CCD cameras, and the prospect in sight of fully autonomous operation, we look forward to bringing more astronomical observing back to Armagh."
To read the full Press Release from Armagh Observatory go to http://star.arm.ac.uk/press/2011/csj_telescope01_revised.html
To read the full article in the Irish Times go to http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sciencetoday/2011/0224/1224290722367.html