Frugal Texans Build Cutting-Edge Telescope STAR HOUNDS

By Robert Bryce, | The Christian Science Monitor, November 22, 1996 | Go to article overview

Frugal Texans Build Cutting-Edge Telescope STAR HOUNDS


Robert Bryce,, The Christian Science Monitor


Astronomers often refer to their telescopes as "light buckets." The bigger the bucket, the deeper astronomers can peer into the heavens.

Last week, engineers at the University of Texas' McDonald Observatory here hoisted the final piece of machinery - a six-ton tracking mechanism - onto what will be the world's second-largest light bucket. The new Hobby-Eberly Telescope, with a mirror measuring 9.2 meters (30.2 feet) in diameter, may signal a fundamental change in the way telescopes are built and the way astronomers conduct their research.

Built for $13.5 million, about 15 percent of the cost of a comparable-sized telescope, the HET is an example of scientists getting a bigger bang for the buck in an era of shrinking budgets for astronomy. The HET is also part of a new trend in making research results available to scientists via the Internet. From the beginning, the design team knew that HET would have to be built on the cheap. Instead of a huge, expensive mirror, the telescope uses a complex honeycomb of 91 hexagonal mirrors. UT astronomers also decided to put the mirror in a fixed position, rather than building the complex machinery needed to tilt it. A smaller tracker will follow stars across the night sky. 'Limit your desires' "If you want to build a world-class facility on a university-type budget, you have to limit your desires," explains Frank Bash, director of McDonald Observatory, the facility that will run the HET. Such frugality will probably continue to keep other projects from reaching astronomical costs, he adds. "The trends in society and the cost of telescopes are working against astronomers who are building bigger and bigger telescopes, because the cost of building the telescopes goes up so rapidly and society hasn't shown an increased willingess to fund basic research." As such, he says, "telescopes will have to be more specialized." Bruce Margon, a University of Washington astronomer and chairman of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, calls the HET design a "fiendishly clever idea. By having a restricted number of instruments and a restricted piece of the sky, and by building a very large amount of collecting area, they've succeeded in making an instrument that is equivalent to a huge instrument for a much lower price." Unlike other optical telescopes, the HET will not be able to take pictures of faraway objects. Instead, it will only do spectroscopy, the study of the light waves emitted or absorbed by celestial objects. Astronomers use spectroscopy to determine the temperature, speed, and chemical composition of stars. To design and pay for the new telescope, UT astronomers teamed up with scientists from Pennsylvania State University in State College, Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and two German schools - Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich and Georg-August University in Goettingen. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Frugal Texans Build Cutting-Edge Telescope STAR HOUNDS
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.