Bob Holmes' 32" F/4 Computer-Controlled Fork-Mounted Research Telescope

Assembled 32" scope View from ground Bob Holmes and John Pratte

These pages are maintained by me (Mike Lockwood) as part of my web site.  I posted them because I suspect that a number of people who visit my site will be interested to hear about the achievements of this amazing telescope built by amateurs.

Recent Achievements of the 32" (0.8 meter) F/4 telescope

This telescope was designed and built by Bob Holmes, founder of the Astronomical Research Institute.  It stays quite busy doing science, mainly gathering data on near-earth asteroids, minor planets, and searching for supernovas.  Bob operates the telescope, taking images and uploading them to a server where classes across the country can analyze them as an educational activity.  Students get to learn about astronomy, and they get credit for the discoveries.  This section summarizes the latest achievements of the telescope and its operator. 

          A sampling of 32" telescope achievements
Since its first (coated) light in July of 2006, the telescope has produced hundreds of position observations for known asteroids, near-earth objects (NEOs), and trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs).
As of March 6, 2007, 62 new asteroids have been discovered in images captured by this telescope, 40 by students, and 22 by Bob himself, including one TNO.
The faintest asteroid imaged up to this point is magnitude 23.6 (as of 5/25/07).  This is extraordinary for an amateur-built telescope, in my opinion!

   CCD Images taken with the 32" F/4  - Images of a faint asteroid and a "fun" (non-science) image of M51 added recently.  My compilation of cool images.
    List of asteroids discovered with the 32" F/4   -   Bob's page of discoveries made by students analyzing Bob's images from the 32" scope

Keep checking back for updates.  I update the statistics and post new images as they become available.
The next sections details telescope construction and the story of the primary mirror.

The Story of the Telescope

Bob began building this telescope a few years ago.  It intended use is imaging the objects mentioned above.  Bob designed and welded together the telescope structure himself, which is an impressive feat when you think about the weight, time, and sheer amount of work involved in building a metal telescope this large.  Bob's (and my) friend John Pratte is shown in the first photo for scale.  John is responsible for the fine machining of the drive parts for the telescope, shafts, etc., and he did a brilliant job.

    Here are links to Bob's current web pages and some that are related:
    Bob Holmes' Home Page - Bob's site for the Astronomical Research Institute, describing his research, etc.
    Bob Holmes' Page about the 32" F/4 scope - photos of assembly and installation of components (using a crane!)
    FIRST LIGHT!  Read about it here! - A night I will never, ever forget, as photons are collected for the first time.   

The Saga of the Primary Mirror

Bob bought the BVC blank, generated to F/5, 2.25" thick.  It was sent to a commercial outfit that was supposed to have finished it in a timely manner, but after a year and a half they proved themselves incapable of making a large mirror - the best they could do was a badly scratched, wedged, astigmatic mirror (to the tune of 10-20 waves) that had somehow migrated its way to F/4!  Since I live only an hour away from Bob and he knows my work, he asked me to fix the mirror, and I was thrilled.  It would be a challenging project.

The first step in the process was to dewedge the blank, and that is done (see link just below)  Also, there's a link to photos of the grinding machine and its assembly, and now there is a new page summarizing the mirror-making process that was completed in June 2006.

    Dewedging the 32" F/4 blank - Completed in early April.
    The Large Grinding Machine - Now in my shop.
    Making the 32" F/4 BVC Mirror - Mirror finished 6/10/06, after only 28 days in my shop!

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