We're building a 40" Telescope!
Project 40 is a Valley of the Moon Observatory Association (VMOA) initiative to build a reflecting telescope with a 40-inch mirror which will be installed and used in the Robert Ferguson Observatory for public astronomy. This instrument will have great light-gathering power, be easy for docents to use in public events, and easy for visitors to use and enjoy. Installation is anticipated to occur in 2012.
Project 40 has several goals to make the new telescope as useful as possible to the VMOA in its mission to bring astronomy to the public. First, the optical path must end in an eyepiece at or near sitting height off of the floor. Second, the telescope must be constructed with visual astronomy as its first priority, with instruments only added if they can be integrated in a way that will not interfere with visual astronomy. Third, the telescope must be easy for docents to use to find an object and to keep the telescope pointed at that object without frequent adjustments.
The Project 40 team chose to build the telescope with a parabolic primary mirror, hyperbolic convex secondary mirror, and flat tertiary mirror. The design will use the partially completed truss tube design for the Optical Tube Assembly (OTA), and an altazimuth mounting that will be driven by computer in both axes to track a found object in the sky. The telescope will be designed to fit in the west wing of the Robert Ferguson Observatory, a 20-foot by 20-foot enclosed space with a roll-off roof and an existing set of three piers.
Project 40 is being funded by the VMOA from existing funds and from funds raised from private parties, corporations and other non-profits interested in supporting the goals of the VMOA. To contribute, see our "Donate" page.