The primary equipment in the 10-foot dome is linked to a 14-inch telescope with an OEM mount. The tube is a Celestron C14 of early vintage. It was mounted into an engineered fork by a university engineering task force whose direction was geared to visual observing on a tour of communities and schools. To that end it was built to be pushed in any direction easily, then allowed to track with a synchronous motor. At the end of the task the equipment was surplussed and, subsequently, passed through several hands, finally ending up in my dome.
The fork is built around 4x4-inch aluminum tubing which permits easy attachment of mechanical and electronic modifications. The movement in RA is achieved by pushing against a slipping clutch and, upon stopping, by a 0.5 rpm synchronous clock motor. Additional fine motions in RA and DEC may be made by relatively slow stepping motors A wide range of visual and electronic devices is available. In the top figure above, the 14-inch mirror is monitored by a sensitive, 30 fps, video camera used primarily for the observation of occultations.
The open construction allows project work without interfering with the main driving functions. Major projects to date are:
Two SBIG, ST-8 cameras are available. The first and oldest has parallel port connection to a computer. It is slower in download than the second which has USB data transmission. Each is otherwise interchangeable. Figure 3 shows the ST-8 with USB connection fitted, first, with a color wheel containing RGB filters, a diffraction grating, and a neutral density filter. An AO-8 adaptive optics unit is located in the first position in the stack.
The AO-8 is, basically, a 2-dimensional, transmission, flip plate which allows locking onto a star and tracking the sky while compensating for small fluctuations in position or, in the case of a bright tracking star, high speed corrections for atmospheric flutter. This mode of operation has resulted in the highest resolution images among those collected by the several modes.