The "charged-coupled device" (CCD) camera will allow images to be placed on the university's website in the coming months.
This camera, at $8,000, is a little different than your average consumer digital camera which has been all the rage the last few years. This model, manufactured by a Santa Barbara, Cal. company which specializes in astronomical instruments, is about the size of a tissue box and has an adapter which screws on the end of the 14-foot long telescope.
The images can be viewed on a laptop computer in the observatory so students know their results immediately.
The first of a series of public observing sessions was held throughout the academic year was held Sept. 26.
Dan Fleisch, visiting professor of physics, is reviving the defunct Wittenberg Astronomical Society and will offer public observations throughout the academic year in addition to those available to students in his astronomy classes.
"Wittenberg is fortunate to own a 10-inch refractor telescope built in the 1930s by C.A.R. Lundin, one of the renowned Lundin family of lens makers," Fleisch said. "The Lundins produced the 40-inch lens for the Yerkes Observatory telescope, the largest refracting telescope in the world."
Fleisch added, "The rule of thumb for the usable power of a telescope is a magnifying power of 50 for each inch of apeture, suggesting that our telescope can be used at 500 power under ideal conditions. This is more than sufficient to reveal the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter, the Orion Nebula and wonderful close-up views of the lunar landscape."
The university's physics department also has longer-range goals to bring the instrumentation up to today's standards for astronomical teaching and small college research projects.
"The building, the dome and the telescope itself are all in remarkable condition given their ages," Fleisch said. The lenses will need very little polishing but there is some 60-year old grease in the gears which we want to clean up which will significantly improve tracking."
This is a wonderful teaching tool," Fleisch said. "It may not be a great research telescope but it is great for teaching purposes."
Fleisch is the chief scientist of Aeroflex Lintek Corp in Columbus which conducts applied research and development of advanced radar and satellite test instrumentation.
He also works with Ohio State's John Kraus, inventor of the helix antenna and designer of Ohio State's famed "Big Ear" radio telescope. The two are collaborating on the fifth edition of Kraus's standard textbook on elecromagnetics for McGraw-Hill.
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