As the finale to the 2017 ZTF Summer Undergraduate Astronomy Institute, we visited the Palomar Observatory! We had a chance to tour all of the telescopes on the mountain, and learn about the 48″ ZTF telescope – with its amazing new 47 square degree camera – as well as the 60″ robotic telescope. Of course the highlight of the evening was visiting the 200″ Palomar telescope, a true cathedral of science. We watched the telescope open up at twilight, and begin its surveying of the sky. As it moved effortlessly and glided toward its next target it was impossible not to marvel at this machine – part battleship and part scientific instrument. It gracefully moves its 75 ton mass toward new targets without any vibration and holds position to within a few millionths of a meter for hours. The dome glides silently toward a new position without any noise or shaking as it was engineered by a generation of technical minds that put all of the skills and knowledge of the 20th century into the systems that still work – nearly 100 years later. It was a marvellous night, and we also enjoyed experimenting with the new Ricoh Theta 2 all-sky camera, which allowed the students to pose for portraits in moonlight and starlight. Here are some of the Palomar 360 images – which can be explored in VR and allow you to recreate some of our adventures.
View outside of 200″ dome with Milky way and posing students – https://theta360.com/s/fDQdiekpyLi3oBcnQtnU9S688
Another night portrait by starlight outside the 200″ dome – https://theta360.com/s/jpo1x4Usvnu9rMwIxZVhUFm1w
One view of the sky – with a bit of moonlight on the horizons – https://theta360.com/s/jpo1x4Usvnu9rMwIxZVhUFm1w
One of our sharpest portraits – as the moon was still up – https://theta360.com/s/qiq632t1Iy47y6ORdb5uV3ffM
Portrait with students viewing Saturn on small telescopes – blurred as it was a 1-minute exposure – https://theta360.com/s/gmlIWLM4ullGN0ixcMGbb5lse
All sky view showing moon brightly shining on left – https://theta360.com/s/gmlIWLM4ullGN0ixcMGbb5lse
Group photo at base of 200″ telescope near sunset – https://theta360.com/s/l6lC4gxrfDAduasQy2eYzsZxA
In awe – at the base of the 200″ telescope as it begins to explore the universe – https://theta360.com/s/oP9tkM09zqxDN7Z1wylK5RFhY
View inside of 48″ telescope – with ZTF system visible – https://theta360.com/s/sdxx8bja1qEq2ADSRfhraO0bg
View inside the 60″ telescope dome with Kevin explaining the workings of the robotic telescope – https://theta360.com/s/hyZnaWIOQRPDKGzdZBXKw7iKG
Another view of the 60″ telescope – https://theta360.com/s/hyZnaWIOQRPDKGzdZBXKw7iKG
Group photo outside of the 60″ telescope dome: https://theta360.com/s/hdVpWe5QezWe2p2SXGcSYXsUC
Below are the regular 2D images from our Palomar night!