Category Archives: General information

Happy Birthday SPIRIT II

SPIRIT II was officially launched on September 6, 2012.

SPIRIT I and SPIRIT II continue to provide teachers and students access to research grade astronomical imaging and data collection via the internet, supported by a full life-cycle of SPICE teacher learning opportunities and student activities. In 2013 alone, 212 participants from 26 different institutions attended some 15 SPIRIT professional learning workshops at the Centre for Learning Technology.

Students from Western Australia and beyond continue to utilise SPIRIT to take stunning images of distant astronomical objects, as well as undertake ‘real science’ with these unique instruments.

Happy 2nd Birthday SPIRIT II

SPIRIT_II_TD

Cleaning the SPIRIT optics

Cleaning the optics of  SPIRIT telescopes requires a great deal of care. The surfaces of primary mirrors in particular are extremely delicate, and can be damaged using conventional cleaning techniques. Telescope optics should never be touched, though traditional surface cleaning techniques usually include surface contact. Washing mirrors introduces other problems such as streaking and can be difficult to undertake with telescope optics in situ. Moisture ingress at the edge of primary mirrors can also affect coatings over time.

The annual SPIRIT mirror cleaning routine includes the application of a polymer solution called First Contact that absorbs surface dust and debris. It dries as a flexible film that has minimal surface adhesion so that it can be safely removed without affecting delicate surface coatings.

The SPIRIT II primary mirror before cleaning:
mirror_before

Application of First Contact polymer solution:
mirror_polymer

Removing the cured ‘film’:
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A clean SPIRIT II primary mirror:
mirror_after

SPIRIT II

Thanks to a generous donation from the Hawaiian Property Group in Perth, the SPIRIT program has expanded with a second telescope – SPIRIT II.

The new instrument is a Planewave CDK 17″ telescope, coupled with a more sensitive CCD camera offering twice the field of view of SPIRIT I (see the ‘first light’ image of the near full moon below).

moon_120206-300x300

See more pictures of the SPIRIT telescopes in the image galleries.