The 0.8 m Telescope

This telescope is the second largest single-aperture telescope in Israel, which is located at the Wise Observatory near the town of Mitzpe Ramon in the Neggev desert, some 3 hours drive from the University of Haifa. Funding for the construction of the telescope was provided  by the Israeli Science Foundation. The telescope and its dome enclosure are fully robotic in that they accept a list of targets, observe them according to their observability, and transmit the data to computers at the University of Haifa for further processing.

The telescope follows a Ritchey-Chretien design, and is equatorially mounted. This design was chosen to maintain azimuthal symmetry and avoid unnecessary reflecting surfaces, which would introduce instrumental polarization, thereby further complicating polarimetric measurements. There is ample room behind the primary mirror for attaching scientific equipment such as cameras and multiple filter wheels.

The telescope is optimized for the photometric and polarimetric monitoring of the sky in the optical band. Research projects include, for example, the monitoring of active supermassive black holes environs (a.k.a. quasars or active galactic nuclei), which is a main research direction pursued in by the astrophysics group at the University of Haifa. 

The dome encloses the 0.8m telescope. Shown on the left is the dome’s installation process, which consists of two parts: the ring-like base with a servicing hatch, and an upper dome with a sliding shutter, which synchronously rotates with the telescope. In the background, desert scenery typical of the Negev is seen,  with the Ramon crater lying in the top part of the image (not shown).

The telescope is a fully automated Ritchey-Chretien design, which is installed on a German mount. This design was chosen to allow for ample room behind the primary mirror for various instruments. Importantly, the camera lie directly behind the primary mirror, and along the symmetry axis of the telescope, which is a favorable configuration for polarimetric measurements. The telescope and its mount weigh around 1,000kg, and are screwed into the concrete foundation.