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Telescopes & recent observational techniques. ASTR 3010 Lecture 4 Chapters 3 & 6. Telescope mounts. Different Designs. Newtonian. Gregorian. Cassegrain. Focal Planes. Prime focus = large field of view, least number of optical elements (best imaging quality). Most radio telescopes.

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Telescopes & recent observational techniques

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Telescopes recent observational techniques

Telescopes & recent observational techniques

ASTR 3010

Lecture 4

Chapters 3 & 6

Telescope mounts

Telescope mounts

Different designs

Different Designs




Focal planes

Focal Planes

  • Prime focus = large field of view, least number of optical elements (best imaging quality).

  • Most radio telescopes

Focal planes1

Focal Planes

  • Prime, Newtonian, Cassegrain, Coude, Coude

Coud focus

Coudé focus

  • 1m telescope at Teide Observatory on Canary Island

     useful to use a large instrument with the telescope

Nasmyth foci cassegrain focus instrument selector

Nasmyth foci + Cassegrain focus  instrument selector

Telescope mirror

Telescope mirror

  • Honeycomb design

  • Zerodur (zero thermal expansion glass)

  • Silver (99.5%) or aluminum (98.7%) coating

Protected silver coating 2004

Protected silver coating (2004-)

  • Especially important in mid-IR (emissivity = 1 – reflectivity)



Diffraction and airy pattern

Diffraction and Airy Pattern

Atmospheric seeing

Atmospheric Seeing

Astronomical seeing

Astronomical Seeing

  • In a short exposure, wavefront distortions caused by variations in refractive index in the atmosphere.



speckle pattern














  • r0 = coherent length  typical size of air packet. For a superb seeing: r0~20cm, poor seeing r0~1cm

  • Seeing disk = averaged speckle patterns over long exposure.

  • Seeing disk size = Full width half maximum of the long exposure image.

Half maximum


Telescopes recent observational techniques

Atmospheric Turbulence

Fried parameter (r0): size of a typical lump of uniform air in the turbulent atmosphere (meter)

Coherent timescale (second) :

t0 = timescale of the change of turbulence

Seeing (radian)

Typically: r0=10cm, t0=10msec  FWHM=1” in the visible (0.5m)

Signature of atmospheric turbulence

Signature of Atmospheric Turbulence

Shorterexposuresallow to freezesomeatmosphericeffects

and reveal the spatial structure of the wavefront corrugation

Sequential 5sec exposure images in the K band on the ESO 3.6m telescope

Telescopes recent observational techniques

Shorter exposures than t0 speckle imaging

A Speckle structure appearswhen the exposureisshorterthan the atmospherecoherencetime t0

1ms exposure at the focus of a 4m diameter telescope

Speckle pattern

Speckle pattern

  • Very short (< 10 msec) exposures of a star

  • If you shift these images so that you align the brightest spot always on the same position and add all these shifted images, you can get a greatly improved image which is close to the diffraction limit. This technique is known as “Speckle Interferometry”

Telescopes recent observational techniques

Speckle imaging

Recombine 100s of short exposures to achieve the diffraction limitedimaging

reconstructed image

400 100ms exposures

40sec single exposure

Mirror seeing

Mirror Seeing

When a mirror is warmer that the air in an undisturbed enclosure, a convective equilibrium (full cascade) is reached after 10-15mn. The limit on the convective cell size is set by the mirror diameter

Thermal emission analysis vlt unit telescope

Thermal Emission AnalysisVLT Unit Telescope

UT3 Enclosure

  • 19 Feb. 1999

  • 0h34 Local Time

  • Wind summit: ENE, 4m/s

  • Air Temp summit: 13.8C

Adaptive optics

Adaptive Optics

Adaptive optics1

Adaptive Optics

Adaptive optics observation

Adaptive Optics observation

Conventional ao

Conventional AO

  • AO performance can be measured by Strehl ratio

    IPSF is peak intensity of an actual image, IAiry is the peak intensity of the Airy pattern

    Perfect AO will have a Strehl ratio of 1.0.

  • AO corrected field is within an isoplanatic angle from the guide star.

  • isoplanatic angle is typically 5-6 arcsec at near-IR (~2micron)

  • Chance of having a suitable guide star (natural guide star) close to your science target is slim.

  • Artificial guide star created by a laser  laser guide star (LGS) AO

  • Still, AO corrected field is within the radius of an isoplanatic angle from your laser spot.

Natural guide star ngs and laser guide star lgs

Natural Guide Star (NGS) and Laser Guide Star (LGS)

  • NGS : using nearby bright stars to your science target

  • Make an artificial guide star close to your science target

Anisoplanitsm and cone effect

Anisoplanitsm and cone effect

  • Different light paths b/w the reference star and others

Mcao glao


  • Multi-conjugate AO and Ground Layer AO

Laser mcao at gemini south

Laser MCAO at Gemini South

Single ao versus mcao

Single AO versus MCAO

Telescopes recent observational techniques

  • MCAO : Best AO correction over large FOV

GLAO : improve image quality over large FOV

In summary

In summary…

Important Concepts

Important Terms


Diffraction limit

Airy ring/pattern

Fried parameter

Atmospheric coherence time



  • Telescope designs and foci

  • Atmospheric turbulence and its effects on astronomical observations

  • Speckle Imaging

  • Adaptive Optics

  • Chapter/sections covered in this lecture : 3 & 6

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