Telescope Technology for Teachers

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These activities explore the technology behind the Hobby-Eberly Telescope.

Human HET
TEKS alignments

Challenge 1: Segmented Mirrors (PDF)
The goal of Challenge 1 is to determine a cost-effictive configuration for a primary mirror. Participants experiment with several mirror arrangements to manximize the reflective surface area and minimize the total cost.

Mirror models
Mirror cost chart

Challenge 2: Mirror Array (PDF)
The goal of Challenge 2 is to determine the arrangement of the mirror segments. Some teachers direct the formation of an arc while one stands at the center of curvature. They use a string as the arc radius in order to determine the distance to each mirror segment. Other teachers stand along the arc line holding small flat mirrors.

Challenge 3: Mirror Alignment (PDF)
The goal of Challenge 3 is to align the mirror segments so that they work together as a single large mirror. Each mirror on the HET can move in three ways: tip, tilt, and piston. Members of the mirror arc must move their mirrors into alignment, then hold the mirrors steady.

Challenge 4: Stay Focused (PDF)
The goal of Challenge 4 is to discover why a tracker is needed to follow a star across the sky as Earth rotates beneath the telescope.

Optic Fiber (PDF)
TEKS alignments

Students explore total internal reflection using water, dairy creamer, and a small laser.

For further information, contact Mary Kay Hemenway.