This was our first view of the 72" telescope, propped up on Mike's truck
outside Ray's glass shop down in Arkansas. That's Alan Sliski behind Ray.
In this shot both mirrors are covered with white protective cloth; the axles
have not yet been attached, and the drive disk is clamped temporarily. It's
January 26, 2002, and the 'scope is due to travel North in a week.
Closeup of Primary Cell
Here's a closeup showing some of the 27 support rings of the primary
cell. Gives you an idea of the size of the thing. Overall the
telescope weighs about a half ton.
Here's the lightweight lap that Ray and his crew (Mike is shown here)
fashioned to grind and polish the primary. It weighs less than a hundred
Jan 26 was a perfectly clear night (though nearly full moon), so we stood
in the chilly night and explored the focal plane with a 60mm eyepiece and
a measuring reticle. Star images drifted past in review, revealing fine
optical quality (for an f/2.5 spherical primary, that is!), in this first
look. There's still plenty of alignment and adjusting to do...but we just
Portrait of a Primary Cell in Darkness
Here's another shot of the primary cell, taken during "first light" testing.
That's Alan in the foreground; Ray's better half is seen facing the camera.