Radio Tower at Kopernik Observatory


These pictures, (click on links below) show the effect of the radio tower on the 20-inch telescope. They were taken in mid March 2005.


The tower lies to the south west of the 20-inch. It is more to the south when viewed from the C-14 dome. The more the blockage is to the south the more detrimental it is to astronomical observations. Objects to the south rise above the southeast horizon, hug the southern horizon, and set along the southwestern horizon. There is only one opportunity to observe them for a few weeks each year, and that is when they are due south. Some of the most important objects in the sky are in the south since the center of the Milky Way Galaxy lies in the southern sky when viewed from the Binghamton area.


Click on the links to see the photos to see the view described. For some of these you will have to rotate the image 90 degrees. These are big files so the download time will be long.


Radio tower viewed from the sun dial near the front entrance of Kopernik. This gives the general view, shows the height of the radio tower above the tree line, and how it blocks the view to the south from the parking lot and observing field to the north of the gazebo.


View from the Observatory Door between the domes. This is looking generally south with the C-14 directly to the right of the viewer and the 20-inch to the left. It shows how the tower is considerably above the tree line. This also shows how the tower blocks the view from the location that many KAS Members have set up their personal telescopes for many years.


View from inside 20-in dome; telescope parked looking at the North Pole, dome door pointing southwest. This shows how much the tower blocks of the sky. Since the Polar Axis of the telescope is pointed north, this view also shows that the tower is generally to the southwest of the 20-inch. It is more to the south from the C-14 dome.


Scope pointing above tower. Here there is no blockage. Below this angle of about 35 degrees altitude the tower blocks the view of the telescope.


Scope pointed at tower. The telescope is blocked and the view is lost in a most important part of the sky. It will take an object about 45 to 60 minutes to clear the tower. It is possible to observe the object before the scope hits the tower, but it is too low after passage of the tower. Bottom line: a substantial part of the sky is blocked.


Scope pointed at tower, a closer view. This part of the sky is lost to a $138,000 instrument!


Scope pointed at tower, a view from the side. This shows that the tower is to the southwest and gives a general idea of the angles of the sky blockage.


Scope pointed at tower, a view from the front.  This shows that while the tower lies to the southwest the blockage is up to a considerable altitude. Objects will take about an hour to clear the tower, but they are effectively lost to observation for the rest of the night after going behind the tower.


There are about 6 or so additional photos taken that day, but these illustrate the point that the new radio tower results in a considerable degradation of the telescope’s observational abilities. It is worse for the C-14 telescope, and also the north dome.


Text and Photos by George Normandin, Kopernik Astronomical Society