Transportable Solar Telescope is Created by a Member of CEFOP

Dr. Rodrigo Fuentes, a member of our Center, worked for four months to create a solar telescope. This telescope was specifically created for an informative activity organized by the organization More Science for Chile (Más Ciencia para Chile) on January 12, 2013 in the main square of Talcahuano, where it delighted children, young people and adults.

The telescope allows the safe observation of solar phenomena, such as solar spots, rotation periods, planetary transits (Mercury, Venus), eclipses and the historical register of solar activity.

Rodrigo created this instrument with a hybrid mixture of an optical design of a doublet refractor telescope, based on the commercial version Sunspotter, with a mechanical design with height and azimuth movements of the mounts for Dobson type reflector telescopes, all beautifully presented in a wooden casing.

How does the telescope work?

The sunlight enters through an achromatic lens with a diameter of 60 mm and a focal length of 700mm, which is divided into three segments 290-310-100 mm, internally circumscribed in an equilateral triangle reflecting the light over two mirrors of 70x50x6 mm. The final image is magnified to 70X using a Plossl ocular of 10 mm. The image plane is generated by projection over a white surface, where the solar diameter reaches 96 mm. The fact that the optic system is compacted allows its easy transportation, alignment and manipulation, which makes it ideal for teaching astronomical knowledge didactically to children of all ages.

For observation purposes, the telescope has to point in the direction of the sun, minimizing the shadow as much as possible. Then it has to be adjusted through the movable base and the image is projected onto one of the inner faces of the triangle.

What sort of materials did you use to create it?

This telescope is mounted on a wooden equilateral triangle with two mirrors of normal glass, aluminized on the first face (thanks to the Research Office of the University of Concepcion). Among other materials, one of the most important is a Japanese yen coin, which works as a point of reference for orientation and to reduce shadow.

It was an intense four months’ work on which I spent all my weekends. As it is a personal creation, it took longer than expected, since I’m working on other projects too.

Activities in  2013

Due to the great interest that the solar telescope has generated among amateur astronomers, a series of informative talks has been organized, among which is the III Astronomy Scientific Camp of the Maule Region, where science amateurs and professionals from all parts of the country gather in relation to astronomy. At this event Rodrigo will give a talk entitled Construction of a Keplerian Telescope for Safe Observation of the Sun.

Future projects

Instruments are what Rodrigo loves the most, especially focused on astronomy, which is why one of his future goals is to be part of the optics engineering team of the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), where the most advanced technological astronomical telescopes on earth are based and where scientists develop instrumentation and telescopes of the next generation, 2030-2050.

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