State-of-the-art telescope unveiled at Friedman Observatory
A new 16” Meade LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope was unveiled on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 in the Friedman Observatory at Penn State Wilkes-Barre in Lehman. The telescope was a gift to the Observatory in honor of Pauly and Sidney Friedman’s 50th wedding anniversary, by their son and daughter and friends of the family.
Dr. Thomas Winter, professor of physics at the campus, was instrumental in the procurement of the new telescope and will be listed on a plaque along with his wife, Janis, as founders of the Galileo Society. The Galileo Society consists of donors who contribute to the upkeep and improvement of the Observatory.
The new telescope is equipped with some of the most advanced technology available today. “The new Meade LX200 has almost 150,000 objects on board which it can automatically locate,” said Dr. Timothy Lawlor, assistant professor of physics and astronomy. “This will greatly increase the efficiency of our public programs. We also gain two more inches of aperture (diameter) over our previous telescope. This means it can collect about 30% more light, so it will show objects with more detail, and objects not viewable in our old telescope can now be found. Also, the modern optics are simply far superior.” Other features include: high-precision pointing mode, microprocessor-controlled sidereal-rate tracking, and a progressive-tension primary mirror lock.
The telescope is mounted on a massive fork system. The fork is cast in one piece and set on roller bearings, allowing the addition of auxiliary equipment. It is the most rigid tracking platform available on a production telescope.
The Friedman Observatory opened in 1990. The dome itself is standard, about sixteen feet in diameter with a retractable hatch with the capability to rotate so that different parts of the sky can be observed. According to Dr. Winter, “Before the dome was built, die-hard astronomy enthusiasts would carry portable telescopes and long extension cords to an open field. The bitter winter winds drove away all but the hardiest observers.”
Since the Observatory opened its doors, it has served college students, elementary and high school students, clubs and organizations, and community members in learning more about the myriad objects in the sky. It is open for public viewing on Monday and Tuesday evenings, weather permitting (check the web site for a current schedule or call 570-675-9149 for up-to-date viewing schedules). For information, or to become a member of the Galileo Society, call the Office of Institutional Advancement at 570-675-9228.