Research and Teaching Telescopes

24 inch Perkin Telescope

Manufactured for Mr. Richard S. Perkin in 1966 by Boller and Chivens, a subsidiary of the Perkin-Elmer Corporation, this telescope was donated to Wesleyan in 1971 by the Perkin family. The Perkin Reflector has a primary mirror 24 inches in diameter and a focal length of 27 feet. Grants from the Perkin Fund, Research Corporation and the National Science Foundation helped us automate and equip the telescope. A CCD detector for recording images digitally was obtained in 1991 through a grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation. A newer CCD camera was obtained and installed in 2007, and the telescope was equipped with an auto-guider in 2012. The Perkin telescope is used for departmental research, including many senior and graduate student theses, for studying variable stars known as T Tauri stars in a program directed by Professor Herbst and for studying extrasolar planet transits in a program directed by Professor Redfield.

20 inch Alvan Clark Great Refractor

When the current observatory building was dedicated in 1916 this telescope was supposed to be installed; however, the glass blanks for the lenses had been ordered from a German manufacturer, and war slowed their delivery considerably. Happily, when they did finally arrive at the Alvan Clark company for grinding, the glass quality was found to be very high across the whole disk, allowing a 20" aperture rather than the 18.5 inches that had been ordered. The telescope was installed in the observatory in 1922, and has a focal length of 27' 6". The initial research program pursued on the 20" refractor, by then-observatory director, Frederick Slocum, was "the determination of the distances to the stars." Currently, the telescope is used in collaboration with the Astronomical Society of Greater Hartford for public viewing.

2.4 meter Radio Telescope

This telescope was built by Wesleyan students in 2013, based on the design for the Small Radio Telescope (SRT) developed at Haystack Observatory. The instrument is used primarily by the students as a learning tool, to study the motions of neutral hydrogen gas in the Milky Way and radio-wavelength emission from the Sun.

16 inch Meade LX200GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain

Housed in the rooftop dome of the observatory this modern instrument is used primarily by the students as a learning tool although it is sophisticated enough to use for research projects too. Our students learn to operate this telescope early in their studies and then have access to use the telescope for fun and to host public observing nights during the academic year. This telescope can be equipped with an auto-guiding CCD and spectrograph.

10 inch portable Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain

Donated by Mrs. Catherine Fiducia of Middlefield, Connecticut, in loving memory of her late husband, Joe Fiducia, this telescope was first used at a dedication ceremony for friends and family of Mrs. Fiducia on April 11, 1995. This 10" Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, has a focal length of 63 inches, and is equipped for possible computer interface. With a portable tripod, we use this telescope outside the observatory building to share views of the sky with students and residents in the Middletown area.

Computing resources

Students have use of our computer lab in the department to assist in their research and class work. We maintain a network of workstations in this lab and in locations throughout the observatory. A range of research software including IRAF/PyRAF, IDL, CIAO, and many programming languages are supported on these machines as well as popular desktop tools such as Adobe Creative Suite, MS Office, and various desktop planetarium programs. Wesleyan operates and supports a 288-CPU cluster for research in Astronomy, Physics, and Chemistry.