No place like dome

I’ve already written a little about the WIYN telescope itself, but equally revolutionary at the time was its enclosure. Domes used to be designed to keep as much of the external world out as possible, isolating the telescope from the turbulent air outside; the high point of this design might be represented by the Kitt Peak 4-m, standing high above the ground in an effort to get above the turbulence.

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If you look closely at the dome, though, you might spot a series of small shutters. These were added afterwards, once it had been realised that opening your telescope to the air made a lot of sense; a smooth air flow across the mirror is easier to establish than completely still air beneath an open dome slit, and doesn’t interfere with the quality of astronomical images. That’s the thinking behind the initially shocking design of the WIYN ‘dome’:

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The large holes in the side allow the wind to pass through, creating stable conditions inside the dome. (That’s the theory; last night we had to shut the panels because the wind was strong enough to noticeably shake the telescope.) There are other advantages too, of course; panels of steel are cheaper than beautifully shaped domes. It may not be aesthetically as pleasing, but it works.

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4 responses to “No place like dome”

  1. P Draper says :

    Help!!!! Cannot access galaxy zoo site – -space warps –and probably mars too. password reset not accepting unable to ask for help no contact no.triedi over and over again P Draper

    • Kyle Willett says :

      Sorry to hear that. Can you describe what you mean by “password reset not accepting”?

      • P Draper says :

        Kyle, Thanks for noticing ..Password reset. you put in an alternative password . Would not accept that either. Could be a google link problem ? Finally managed to e.mail Arfon ! at galaxy zoo . No reply at presant. P Draper

      • P Draper says :

        Kyle P Draper. Finally accepted reset password. Thanks . i am up and running again. Love to take part in galaxy quench. But i fear to date my computer talents are still in their early stages. web cams- blogs -twitter etc still pretty new to me. Maybe if there is another one i may be able to take part . I have through part -time study distance learnig a cert of higher education in astronomy it would be nice to do something voluntary as at 54 as through life,s upsets i missed the boat ! regards Pam Draper

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