Campus & Community

Astronomy Department dedicates new telescope

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Replaces the venerable Knowles telescope

A small knot of a dozen people gathered on the Science Center roof on Friday (Oct. 31) to officially dedicate Harvard’s latest teaching telescope, a 16-inch cassegrain telescope built by DFM Engineering in Colorado.

The telescope, which will be used to teach about 100 astronomy students a year, was installed in one of the Science Center’s observatory domes during the summer of 2007 and has been in use for the past year. Friday’s event was an official dedication and unveiling of a plaque in honor of donor Landon Clay, who financed the new instrument.

The new telescope replaces an aging, similar-sized Meade telescope that will be moved to the Center for Astrophysics and used for public observing.

Paine Professor of Practical Astronomy Jonathan Grindlay, who uses the telescope in his class, said the new instrument is faster and, though it is similarly sized, takes sharper pictures. He presented Clay with a framed collection of images taken through the telescope in the past year, including the Crab Nebula, the Dumbell Nebula, and the comet Holmes.

“This is very memorable and I’m sure it will be well used,” Clay said.