The 150-Foot Solar Tower Telescope |
Located within the dome at the top of the tower are two flat mirrors (arranged in a coelostat design) and an objective lens. The diameter of the first flat is 19 inches, while that of the second flat is 14½ inches. Both mirrors are made of a Cervit substrate and polished flat to 1/20 of a wavelength of green light. The first flat mirror is tilted at an angle parallel to the earth's axis of rotation and rotates about an imaginary line on its surface. The rate of rotation of this flat is exactly one half the rate of the sun's apparent motion through the sky. Thus, once aligned, light reflected off its surface is constantly directed onto the second flat mirror. This second flat is located above and to the south of the first flat and is oriented face down. The second flat directs light down to the objective lens below. This lens is an apochromatic cemented triplet manufactured by Perkin Elmer in 1971, following an optical design computed by Dr. Ira S. Bowen. Its nominal focal length is 150 feet, thus giving the tower its name. (The tower structure itself is approximately 176 feet high.) Electronic controls in the observing room subtly manipulate the position of the second flat allowing the observer to translate the image of the solar disk at ground level.
Article by Tom Shieber. |