The telescope is a 0.4-meter (16-inch) with Advanced Coma-Free optics (Meade model LX-200 GPS/ACF). The optical design is similar to that of a Ritchey-Chrétien, with a spherical primary mirror, hyperbolic secondary mirror and a corrector plate lens, the latter being computer-designed to yield coma-free performance across the field of view. The effective f-number – the ratio of focal length to telescope aperture (the same formula used for cameras) – is f/10.
The Meade mount is a fork design, with internal computer and specially designed stepper motors with optical encoders for the RA and Dec drives. Upon nightly initialization the Meade system acquires accurate positional and time information from a Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite.
The mount sits on top of a steel pier that is bolted to a monolithic concrete structure: an 18-inch diameter, 2-foot tall pedestal centered on a 4-foot cube anchored in solid bed rock. The custom-built bent-pier design achieves a center of gravity for the whole telescope assembly that is close to the pedestal’s center, thus minimizing force on the mounting stud bolts embedded in the concrete structure.
The Meade drive system compensates for atmospheric refraction as a function of altitude above the horizon and site elevation, and for precession of the equinoxes. The standard alignment procedure combined with our sky-position-dependent model realizes a repeatable pointing accuracy of 1.5 arc minute across most of the sky.