Leander McCormick Observatory
26-inch Instrumentation: Student CCDs
The 26-inch has been equipped with two Santa Barbara
Instruments CCD cameras, an ST-8 and an ST-1001E, as well as an Opto-Mechanics Model
10-C spectrograph. All these instruments were designed for use with
Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, but we have adapted them for use
with the LMO 26-inch refractor. Information on the
spectrograph is available here. In addition, there is an ASTROVID 2000 high speed CCD imaging system for use with the speckle camera or for "direct" viewing and videotaping.
With financial assistance from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the
McCormick family, and a National Science Foundation grant to Steven
Majewski, the historic 26-inch Alvan Clark refractor at Leander
McCormick Observatory has been upgraded to a state-of-the-art teaching
facility for both graduate and undergraduate students. The telescope
has been fitted with sensitive CCD cameras, allowing digital pictures
to be captured from the telescope focal plane and stored for computer
analysis. This new camera is more than 50 times more sensitive than
the old photographic camera, which is still available and useful for
taking pictures over larger areas.
|The planet Saturn is seen here with its rings
oriented almost edge on. This image was taken recently with the LMO 26-inch and the ST-8 CCD. It is a false color image.
The new imaging camera has been designed to operate in parallel with
eyepiece viewing through the telescope. In this way, students may compare
naked-eye views of celestial objects to those captured by the electronic
camera. Both the eyepiece and camera will be operational for the popular
McCormick Public Nights.
Even though the computer images are generally more detailed and show
fainter structures than can be seen by the naked eye, there is still a
romantic thrill people experience when given the opportunity to look
directly through a large telescope. The new parallel mode of
operating the 26-inch provides the flexibility for McCormick
visitors have both experiences.
Both instruments underwent testing during the Summer of 1997 for use
with classes starting in the Fall of 1997. Below are some additional
images taken with the student CCD during the test phase.
Online manuals for both the ST-8
CCD and the
Spectrograph are available
to local users.
These are just a few examples of the types of observations that can be
made with our new student CCD. We will be incorporating its use more
and more in ASTR 130 (lab for non-majors), ASTR 313 (lab for majors),
and ASTR 511 (lab for graduate students) in the coming semesters.
||This is an image of M57, the famous Ring Nebula in the constellation of
Lyra. The Ring is an example of a planetary nebula, which results when
a red giant star sheds its outer envelope of gas. This is what we expect
will happen to our Sun in 5 billion years. This also is a false color
||This is an image of M13, a globular cluster in the constellation of
Hercules. This image was taken with the doghouse 10 inch Meade and the
ST-8 teaching CCD. The exposure time was 30 seconds. Note the large
amount of individual stars easily visible in this cluster in just a
short exposure. This image is in false color.|
||This is an image of the Trapezium star group in Orion. The bright
"burnt in" region in the center is a group of very bright stars. The
surrounding "fuzz" is the emission nebula associated with these stars;
it is a large cloud of gas glowing in the light of hydrogen. This image
was taken with the LMO 26-inch refractor and the ST-8 CCD; the exposure
time was 10 seconds.|