ERAU Prescott Observatory

ERAU Optical Telescopes and Instruments

Obserrvations from ERAU TelescopeThe Embry-Riddle Prescott Campus Observatory Complex optical telescopes consist of a 16" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, a 12" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and an 11” EdgeHD aplanatic, flat field Schmidt-Cassegrain. The observatory also has a number of smaller telescopes available for students and faculty to use for studying deep-sky objects such as: nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies.

The observatory is preparing to install a set of outdoor fixed piers which will allow users to rapidly set up either school telescopes or their own telescopes for single or group observing as well as public star parties.   

For more information on current and future advances in Optical Astronomy, 
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16" Schmidt- Cassegrain Telescope
Meade 16"

The Optical Observatory has been recently upgraded with a new telescope and electronic camera system. The telescope is a 16-inch Meade LX600-ACF equipped with an 11-megapixel scientific-quality SBIG STXL-11002 CCD camera. A professional UBVRI filter set for the camera allows students to make research-quality brightness measurements of astronomical objects such as exoplanets, variable stars, and supernovae.

This telescope is primarily used to support Astronomy labs and student research projects, including senior capstone projects for the Astronomy and Space Physics degree programs.
12" Schmidt- Cassegrain Telescope
Meade 12"

The 12" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope was equipped with an SBIG XT-10XME CCD camera and a professional UBVRI filter set for research-quality brightness measurements ("photometry") of stars, as well as real-time pictures of astronomical objects for public viewing. This 3.2 megapixel CCD camera has a Full Frame Resolution of 2184 x 1472 pixels at 6.8 microns making it an excellent camera for telescopic uses.

The 12” telescope is currently in storage. The telescope’s German equatorial mount is now located in the CDT Building and hosts one of the Celestron C-11 Edge telescopes.

12" Schmidt- Cassegrain Telescope
Celestron 11" Edge

There are two Celestron 11-inch EdgeHD aplanatic, flat field Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes mounted on fixed piers in the CDT Building. One telescope is set up for optical viewing and is equipped with wide field optics. The design accommodates 3 focal ratios: native f/10, f/7 with the addition of a focal reducer, or ultra-fast f/2 imaging with a removable secondary mirror and third-party accessories. The aplanatic design reduces spherical aberration making stars at the field edges as sharp as those in the center of the field.

The second C-11 EdgeHD telescope in the CDT Building is equipped with the SBIG XT-10XME CCD camera. It is set up for narrow field of view. Both telescopes are computer controlled and will be able to be operated remotely.

Optical Instruments

SBIG STXL-11002 CCD cameraSBIG STXL-11002 CCD camera

The new STXL cameras are the latest versions of the flagship STX series. The STXL is essentially the same camera design as the STX with three exceptions: First, the self-guiding CCD is moved from the main camera body to the new STXL filter wheel for guiding in front of filters; second, a rotating disk even-illumination shutter provides a shorter backfocus distance allowing the use of camera lenses; and third, the STXL uses the new STT remote guide head.

Two new STXL filter wheel options accompany the release of the STXL series camera. The Standard and Self-Guiding 8-position STXL filter wheels are of a similar design as the STT filter wheels. They use the same precise positioning mechanism, but accommodate 50mm round unmounted filters. In the Self-Guiding model, the guiding CCD is incorporated into the filter wheel in front of the filters.

SBIG XT-10XME CCD cameraSBIG XT-10XME CCD camera

The Model ST-10XME is an older self-guiding CCD cameras from SBIG. It contains a larger detector than previous models. Like other self-guiding cameras in the ST series, the ST-10XME contains two CCDs. In this case, the imaging CCD is an enhanced KAF-3200ME imaging detector from Kodak with 3.2 million pixels. The guiding CCD is the TC-237H with 657 x 495 pixels. The Model ST-10XMEI is essentially the same camera without the guiding CCD and some accessories.

The addition of a micro lens layer over the pixels of the CCD increases the quantum efficiency of the KAF-3200ME detector. The peak QE for this CCD is over 85%. The QE for the blue wavelength of 400 nm is nearly double that of the 3200E and there is a 30% increase in QE over the 3200E (from 65% to 85%) at the important deep red H-alpha emission line.