The VAO consists of an f/6.8 Cassegrain reflector with a 17-in (0.43-m) primary mirror and Dall-Kirkham correction lens. The observatory is located on the roof of Van Allen Hall (41°, 41’ 12” N, 91° 31’ 55” W; elevation 200 m) on the campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City and the telescope was installed in August 2014 with funding from the Carver Trust. The telescope is mounted on a PlaneWave Instruments L-500 direct-drive Alt-Az mount. The imaging camera is a SBIG 6303E with a 3K x 2K cooled CCD sensor and a 32’ x 21’ field of view. The available filter set includes L, R, G, and B photometric color filters as well as a narrowband (5 nm width) H-alpha (656.3 nm) filter.

System Diagram

The Van Allen Observatory telescope. The primary mirror, secondary mirror, optical tube assembly, mount, dew heater controller, focuser-rotator, filter wheel, camera, and dome are labeled.

Equipment Summary

Component
make, MOdel
Specifications
CONTROL SOFTWARE
Optical tube assembly
PlaneWave CDK17
17-in, 0.43-m, f/6.8 Corrected Dall-Kirkham with dew heaters
 
Mount 
PlaneWave L-500
Direct-drive, Alt-Az
PWI4
Dew heater controller
PlaneWave Delta T
Controls primary, secondary mirror heaters
PWI3
Focus controller
PlaneWave Electronic Focusing Accessory Kit
EFA automates focusing (focuser-rotator), monitors temperature (dew heater controller), and controls fans
PWI3
Focuser-rotator
PlaneWave IRF90
 
PWI3
Filter wheel
FLI CFW3-12
12-position 50 mm round filters
MaxIm DL
Filters
Chroma/Agina Astro, Astrodon
Detection limit: 15-18 mag; Johnson/Bessell BVR, (possibly adding UI soon); LRGB, H-alpha (5 nm)
 
Camera
Diffraction Limited SBIG STXL-6303E
9 micron pixels in 3072 x 2048 array, 32' x 21.5' FOV, plate scale 0.63"/pix
MaxIm DL
Dome
Astro Haven Enterprises 18 ft.
Clamshell design
Written by K. Ivarsen

 

Cabling Guide

Coming soon here.
Students are shown equipment on the VAO telescope by an observatory staff member.