PHYS 3154
Observational Astrophysics

J. H. Simonetti
[Small Radio Telescope] [14-inch Telescope]
PHYS 3154 Observational Astrophysics: 14-inch Telescope

The 14-inch Telescope
Martin Observatory
Miles C. Horton, Sr., Center*

"Martin Observatory, Blacksburg" is assigned IAU Observatory Code 841.
Longitude: 80 deg 33 min 27.60 sec West
Latitude: 37 deg 19 arcmin 58.10 arcsec North
Altitude: 975 meters
0.36-m f/5.6 reflector + CCD

14-inch Slide Show


The 14-inch Telescope (slide show) is equipped with a CCD camera and filter wheel. The system is computer controlled. The 14-inch is mounted on a Paramount ME german equatorial manufactured by Software Bisque. The optical tube assembly was manufactured by Celestron. The CCD camera is an ST-8E manufactured by Santa Barbara Instrument Group (SBIG); the CFW-8A filter wheel is also manufactured by SBIG. The optical path includes a NextGen Wide-Field 0.50x Telecompressor from Optec. B, V, and R Bessel broadband photometric filters are mounted in the filter wheel, along with a clear aperture filter, and a 3nm-bandpass H-alpha interference filter. Focus is achieved using an Optec TCF-S. Dome control is accomplished using a system manufactured by Meridian Controls Corporation. The dome itself is an Ash-Dome.


The 14-inch is used primarily for instructional work in the PHYS 3154 Observational Astrophysics at Virginia Tech. Other uses include an outreach program delivering lectures and tours for guests at the Mountain Lake Hotel, participants in the programs of the Wilderness Conservancy at the Mountain Lake Hotel, students of the neighboring school systems, and other community groups.

Independent Student Use

Since the telescope is computer controlled the process of using the telescope is considerably more complicated than for a "manual" telescope, the results are sensitive to the care taken by the user during setup and operation, and the potential for damage to the telescope and mount is non-negligible. Furthermore, a number of Virginia Tech instructional and outreach programs are dependent upon the continuous operational status of this instrument. For these reasons the use of the 14-inch Telescope is restricted to experienced users. The privilege of using the telescope can be revoked at any time. Virginia Tech students may obtain access to the 14-inch through completion of the PHYS 3154 Observational Astrophysics course. During this course students obtain an "Observing License" after passing a written exam and "driving exam" (during which the student demonstrates their knowledge of the correct procedures for using the telescope).

*The Horton Center is a facility of the Mary Moody Northen Endowment and Virginia Tech.
[Martin Observatory Dome] [Martin Observatory]
View of the Martin Observatory from above (the dome is the whitest dot, just north -- above -- dead center).
Previous telescopes used at the Martin Observatory:
0.4m on Paramount ME, 2006 (Photo credit: John Simonetti).
0.4m telescope on GT-1100 Paramount, 1999-2005 (Shows students Loren Evory, Karina Cheung, and professor John Simonetti. Photo credit: Michael Kiernan),
12-inch Mancini Telescope, 1991-1998 (Shows students Caterina Vidoli, Carter Hall, and professor Brian Dennison. Photo credit: Bob Veltri)

Other Photo credits:
Dome --- Kristin Hendershot (2006). This image was taken under moonlight.
14-inch Telescope images --- John Simonetti (2007), showing Simonetti, student Phil Nelson, and physics professor Jean Heremans

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