Institute when accepted: Honolulu Community College

Off-Axis Equitorial Telescope Design
Project Site: Institute for Astronomy
Mentor: Garry Nitta

Project Abstract:

The advancement of mirror grinding and polishing technology set off a new era of bigger and, consequently, heavier mirrors. In addition to the increase in primary mirror diameter, there is also a need for heavier and more rigid telescope mechanical systems for support. In this case, heavier is not better. Responding to the requirements of a two-meter class off-axis equitorial telescope, we designed a lightweight telescope mounting system that includes: 1) the substructures supporting the primary and secondary mirrors and instrumentation and 2) the equitorial tracking mechanism. Variables such as the type of material and the overall geometry of the support structure were considered. Using AUTODESK® Inventor Professional, I designed, modeled, and evaluated several geometric configurations, materials, support diameters and thicknesses that will result in the least maximum deflection on any part of the telescope. Using the software’s finite element analysis package, I ran static structural simulations on forces acting on the telescope within its operating range. Through iterative design optimization, we identified critical areas and apply the necessary fix to eliminate the problem. Several iterations of the design yielded us an overall nested truss-like frame consisting of steel truss members that is both rigid and cost effective for its efficient use of materials.