Startup

Startup: The March from Innovation to Toy

This image appears to be both perverse, and childish (as in “drawn by a child”) but it is neither. This is the earliest known diagram of a telescope, sent in a letter by Giovanbattista della Porta in 1609. While he claims to be its inventor, the telescope first appeared not in Italy, but in […]

Astronomical Engines, Big Complicated Machines

Making the James Webb Space Telescope’s Mirrors

The back side of a JWST mirror segment

Good morning, everyone.

Today I’m going to talk more about the mirrors on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and what went into making them. As you remember from the article on the journey that the mirror segments take during manufacturing (you all did read that article, correct?), the segments make 14 stops during the process. I’m not going write up each stage of the fabrication, otherwise we’d be here all day and I have other things that need to be done, plus my foot hurts.

Continue reading Making the James Webb Space Telescope’s Mirrors

Astronomical Engines, Big Complicated Machines

Making the 200 Inch Mirror for the Hale Telescope

Inspecting the 200 inch mirror blank

Greetings, everyone.

Today I’m going to talk about the making of the 200 inch mirror for the Hale telescope. I was originally going to talk about the telescope as a whole, but that would require an article that’s far too long for the bulk of our readers to deal with. There is a lot of history associated with the Hale telescope, in its creation and construction, and in the myriad discoveries that have been made using it. On top of that, I’ve been fascinated by the instrument for decades, and I know enough about the thing to bore a zombie into a stupor.  What I’ve decided  to do, is to write two or three articles about the telescope, with lots of references so that those of you who want to know more about the Hale telescope can do so, while the casual reader won’t be driven off by the extent of my voluminous verbosity. That’s the plan, anyway. Continue reading Making the 200 Inch Mirror for the Hale Telescope

Startup

Startup: Lending Credibility

You don’t have to be a real space man to offer the space man seal of approval. You jut have to play one well enough, or crazy enough, for people to believe you. It’s the same principle that guides people to trust medical advice more from people who play doctors on TV more […]

Astronomical Engines

Some Background on Reflecting Telescopes

The 200 inch primary mirror for the Hale telescope, ready to be coated with aluminum.

Greetings, everyone.

Today I’m going to talk to you about reflecting telescopes, or telescopes that use a mirror to focus incoming light rather than a series of lenses, such as the refracting telescopes that we’ve already looked at. The reason for this is that I’m going to be showing you some of the great telescopes of our time in later articles, and the bulk of them are the reflector type. If I give you the basic background on those instruments now, then I won’t have to natter on and on in each article, explaining things over and over again, and forcing you to read, heaven forbid. It will also cut down on the amount of writing I’ll have to do, and that way we’ll all be happy. I will anyway, and that’s the important thing.

Continue reading Some Background on Reflecting Telescopes

Technostalgia

BCMs #3 – TheYerkes Refractor

The Yerkes 40 inch refractor

Greetings, everyone.

Today we’re going to take a look at the Yerkes 40 inch refractor as a continuation of the big, complicated machines motif.

Continue reading BCMs #3 – TheYerkes Refractor

Technostalgia

Big, Complicated Machines #1 – Old Refractor Telescopes Part 1

Present day Lick 36 inch telescope

Greetings, everyone.

I was lazing in the recliner the other day, idly wondering what on earth I could write about. “Christ, half of that group are far too educated for their own good, and the other half have an attention span measured in milliseconds. What might interest the lot of them for the 90 seconds it takes to read an article?” Well, naked women, of course. That always works. I have to keep my dignity though, and someone from the school might spot my writing. How about “big, complicated machines” then?  Yes, that will do, I think.

Continue reading Big, Complicated Machines #1 – Old Refractor Telescopes Part 1

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