May 18, 2012
Contact: Debbie Hart
Cal Poly Students Create World’s Largest Portable Telescope
SAN LUIS OBISPO – Russ Genet, Cal Poly research scholar in residence, and several Cal Poly undergraduates will display and talk about their project -- the world’s largest portable telescope -- at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 31, in the Kennedy Library.
Maintaining permanent, remote, dark-sky observatories is expensive, forcing many undergraduate institutions and amateur astronomers to transport small telescopes to dark-sky locations for observation purposes.
Theoretically, a telescope with a giant 60-inch diameter mirror could be legally transported on city streets; however, such telescopes weigh tons and cost millions of dollars.
Together with Genet, five Cal Poly students designed and built a portable “light bucket” 60-inch telescope that weighs less than 500 lbs. and cost a few thousand dollars. Analytic tools that architectural engineering students mastered to design skyscrapers were used to minimize the telescope’s weight while maximizing its stiffness.
The telescope’s planar trusses, made from top quality ApplePly hardwood plywood, were automatically milled out on a numerically controlled machine. (ApplePly is a premium quality hardwood plywood.) The telescope won first place in the annual Art of ApplePly contest, which is usually awarded for furniture designs.
Genet and the students will present information on the design, construction and applications of this unique telescope.
The free, public presentation is sponsored by Cal Poly’s Office of Research and Graduate Programs.
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