MARCH 28, 2007

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State’s most advanced telescope added to OSU observatory

A photo of two male students in the OSU observatory with the new telescope.
Seniors Garrett Hardesty (left; physics) and Mike McLean (right; aerospace engineering) welcome the new telescope at OSU's H. S. Mendenhall Observatory.

Oklahoma's largest, most technologically advanced telescope was installed at OSU's H.S. Mendenhall Observatory last month.

The telescope will be used to discover planets orbiting other stars, track asteroids which threaten to collide with Earth, and measure the changing brightness of objects whose light output varies with time.

Much hard work was involved in bringing this extraordinary telescope to OSU. Funding for the telescope came from a $231,000 research grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in response to a proposal submitted by the observatory's director. The research done by several students was included in the proposal to demonstrate the need and qualifications of OSU’s physics department.

In May 2006 the observatory began renovations to prepare for the new telescope. Some of the improvements include a wireless internet link that allows the telescope to be operated remotely, a shortened mounting pier for the larger telescope and weather sensors.

The dome housing the telescope is the first phase of a two-phase construction process. OSU is working to raise the remaining $100,000 to build the control center. The control center is needed to protect the telescope from the light, heat and vibrations produced by computers and observers. It will guarantee observational results of the highest quality, as well as the comfort of visitors.

Construction of the telescope has not advanced without interruption: order backlogs caused a three-month delay in delivery of the telescope's custom-built mirrors. But now the telescope is finally in place, and for decades it will be a great resource not only for OSU students, but also for the state of Oklahoma.

Contact: Gary Shutt, OSU, (405) 744-6260