# How to build an optical telescope for research?

• Stargazing
So, my SPS group is building an optical and a radio telescope (using a typical TV dish). The trouble is, these are merely for showing kids and sometimes for us to just see the sky. Because of their small size, we won't be able to do a lot of research.

What I need is a telescope like the following: https://telescopes.net/store/planew...VBnwa0FvJoH0VKp7tWY5O0p2WK3GE1MlaJxoC8-_w_wcB. Using which we can use computer programs to analyze data and get involved in research. Problem is, it's too darn expensive. If we make it on our own, we'd be able to drastically reduce the price.

So, is there any comprehensive guide which has step-by-step method on how one can go about building a telescope like that and then later use it for real research?

Thank you!

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davenn
Gold Member
2019 Award
So, my SPS group is building an optical and a radio telescope (using a typical TV dish). The trouble is, these are merely for showing kids and sometimes for us to just see the sky. Because of their small size, we won't be able to do a lot of research.

What I need is a telescope like the following: https://telescopes.net/store/planew...VBnwa0FvJoH0VKp7tWY5O0p2WK3GE1MlaJxoC8-_w_wcB. Using which we can use computer programs to analyze data and get involved in research. Problem is, it's too darn expensive. If we make it on our own, we'd be able to drastically reduce the price.

So, is there any comprehensive guide which has step-by-step method on how one can go about building a telescope like that and then later use it for real research?

Thank you!
hi there

you haven't even stated what sort of research you want to do ??
there are many research projects that can be done on a scope a fraction the size and price of that one

So how about formulating and stating the kind of research interests your group has
Keeping on mind, your research topics need to take into account your available budget

Using which we can use computer programs to analyze data and get involved in research. Problem is, it's too darn expensive. If we make it on our own, we'd be able to drastically reduce the price.
Reading you post just sounds like you are trying to do too much too soon
Consider that you are not likely to build a scope of that size and quality for less than $100,000 They are charging$200,000 for a good reason or 3.

for the same reason you cant build a $200,000 Ferrari car for$25,000 and expect to have the same quality

EDIT: ... further considerations .... a scope of that size, 0.7m is going to require a very stable mount
of concrete and a significant building and dome., This could easily cost another $10 - 15 thousand depending on where you live and building material costs, council planning approvals etc etc And we haven't even begun to start considering an accurate drive control for the scope Dave Last edited: russ_watters Mentor Yeah, this is so vague that I have to ask: what research have you done so far on the subject? Have you even googled it? Chronos Science Advisor Gold Member I third the notion that a .7m scope is more than a tad overkill. Many university observatories would love to have one like that too. For a DIY scope,12" is about the maximum realistic size and it would be a simple newtonian on a dobsonian or similar mount. The market is so competitve now it is very difficult to save much money on a DIY scope, but, you can buy one of those outright for about 1k without needing an observatory to house it. That is a big and very capable scope for amateur use, but, near the limit of what a typical human can physically manage. A more realistic size is something like an 8" SC [schmidt cassegrain] which many people find ideal in terms of performance vs portability vs price. Another option is to sign up for scope time on the internet. iTelescope.net, for example, has professional grade scopes and accesories you can use remotely over the internet. - for a tiny fraction of what owning one of these rigs would cost.. Last edited: Vanadium 50 Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Education Advisor 2019 Award You're in Arlington, Texas, right? Go out and take a look at the sky some night. Do your plans to (somehow magically) build a$200K scope make any sense with the sky looking like that?

You're in Arlington, Texas, right? Go out and take a look at the sky some night. Do your plans to (somehow magically) build a $200K scope make any sense with the sky looking like that? :D :D I guess that answers the whole question! I think davenn is right. I am trying to do too much too soon, I should calm down a bit. sophiecentaur davenn Science Advisor Gold Member 2019 Award :D :D I guess that answers the whole question! I think davenn is right. I am trying to do too much too soon, I should calm down a bit. so lets start at the start again and get a few things determined initially answer my Q about what sort of research were you and your group planning ? knowing that, we can then determine a realistic size of scope required a decent 8" to 10" computer controllable scope with a decent mount will cost you in the region of US$3000 to US$5000 approximately for a really solid mount, a concrete pier will be needed, rather than the steel tube tripod they come with and that increases the cost. here's a starting point, pretty much the same scope I have, mine is just on a different mount it's a 9.25" f10 reflector http://www.focuscamera.com/celestro...urce=cj&utm_content=7819916&utm_term=11436057 What sort of budget does the group have ? and with that, if all the group is sharing in the cost, what procedures are in place if a group member decides to leave and wants his share refunded ? There will be other fine points to do with shared finances that you will have to consider do you have a place and building to mount the scope ? will it be rented?, purchased? on one of the group members property ? There's probably a lot of other things I haven't thought of that others here may comment on Dave Last edited: Drakkith Staff Emeritus Science Advisor russ_watters and davenn davenn Science Advisor Gold Member 2019 Award Drakkith russ_watters Mentor ramzerimar and Drakkith Vanadium 50 Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Education Advisor 2019 Award Before we get too excited, remember that this will be located in an area of extreme light pollution: the 4th largest metro area in the US. Drakkith Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Before we get too excited Too late. davenn davenn Science Advisor Gold Member 2019 Award Before we get too excited, remember that this will be located in an area of extreme light pollution: the 4th largest metro area in the US. uh huh, well that's going to be part of the cost, finding a site out of the city area that is dark enough to do reasonable astronomy I have to travel an hour from home to get to my "dark site". It's far from ideal, that would require 4 hrs drive) but it works OK Dave initially answer my Q about what sort of research were you and your group planning ? Well, the current research that was done by a few people was this: https://www.uta.edu/news/releases/2014/08/exomoon-research.php However, I want to work on anything beyond our solar system to something like quasars or distant galaxies or something (but not exoplanets). Also, regarding light pollution, I heard that about 10-20 minutes from the campus, there's just plain fields around (although, I can't imagine getting a piece of land there to mount a telescope). Any idea where we might be able to put this thing? Regarding budget, I'll let you know about that soon. I can get a light curve of an exoplanet transit using a$1,000 8-inch telescope. You don't need a 200k scope to do research.
That's really interesting. How much background in astrophysics and/or astronomy one needs to have to start working on research like this one?

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
However, I want to work on anything beyond our solar system to something like quasars or distant galaxies or something (but not exoplanets). Also, regarding light pollution, I heard that about 10-20 minutes from the campus, there's just plain fields around (although, I can't imagine getting a piece of land there to mount a telescope). Any idea where we might be able to put this thing?
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on there! Before you even think about getting a telescope you need to make dang sure you know what you're going to do with it. Otherwise you're just going to have a very expensive decoration for your room. Now, you need to decide on exactly what you want to do. You say you want to do something beyond the solar system. Okay. What kind of work? Have you spoken to the astronomy department at your university? The equipment you need will depend on what you want to do. Some work may require a long focal length telescope with very tight requirements for guiding and alignment, while other work may need a small, short focal length telescope where the guiding and alignment requirements are more relaxed. You may or may not need special filters. Your mount may be 20 pounds or 60 pounds depending on what you're mounting on it and your guiding requirements. Some work may require a seriously dark sky while other work may not (narrow band work can probably be done in moderately light polluted skies).

That's just a small sample of everything you need to consider.

That's really interesting. How much background in astrophysics and/or astronomy one needs to have to start working on research like this one?
Very little. You need to have the equipment and experience in imaging to take the pictures, but much of the process is very easy. The site in my link actually does most of the number crunching and creates the light curve itself. You just need to make sure your images are high enough quality to have the transit. If you want to know more just send me a PM to remind me to look into this.

berkeman and davenn
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on there! Before you even think about getting a telescope you need to make dang sure you know what you're going to do with it. Otherwise you're just going to have a very expensive decoration for your room. Now, you need to decide on exactly what you want to do. You say you want to do something beyond the solar system. Okay. What kind of work? Have you spoken to the astronomy department at your university? The equipment you need will depend on what you want to do. Some work may require a long focal length telescope with very tight requirements for guiding and alignment, while other work may need a small, short focal length telescope where the guiding and alignment requirements are more relaxed. You may or may not need special filters. Your mount may be 20 pounds or 60 pounds depending on what you're mounting on it and your guiding requirements. Some work may require a seriously dark sky while other work may not (narrow band work can probably be done in moderately light polluted skies).

That's just a small sample of everything you need to consider.
Wow! Okay, so I talked to the group and it seems like we'll just work on a baby radio telescope like this one: http://www.arrl.org/files/file/ETP/Radio Telescope.pdf

I do have plans to work on the bigger telescope, but it seems I'll need to research first a lot about the weather and stuff and also look into the kind of budget that we have. Thanks so much for all the help, appreciate it. :)

davenn and berkeman
davenn
Gold Member
2019 Award
Wow! Okay, so I talked to the group and it seems like we'll just work on a baby radio telescope like this one: http://www.arrl.org/files/file/ETP/Radio Telescope.pdf

I do have plans to work on the bigger telescope, but it seems I'll need to research first a lot about the weather and stuff and also look into the kind of budget that we have. Thanks so much for all the help, appreciate it. :)
looks a good start to introduce to the basics of radio astronomy

just one note, before you start construction, make sure you can get the code file for the PIC controller first
presumably the author will be able to supply that
Do you or anyone else in your group have experience programming PIC's ?. If not, maybe the author can supply for a fee, a pre-programmed PIC for you

Dave