The Hobby-Eberly Telescope; Status and Science Capability

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Session 44 -- The Status of Large Telescope Projects, Instrumentation and Plans for Large Science Projectects in the Areas of Wide-Field Surveys
Oral presentation, Wednesday, June 14, 1995, 2:00pm - 5:30pm

[44.01] The Hobby-Eberly Telescope; Status and Science Capability

Lawrence W. Ramsey (Pennsylvania State University \& Hobby-Eberly Telescope Project)

The Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), currently under construction at McDonald Observatory, is a unique approach to large telescope system design. The HET, formerly called the Spectroscopic Survey Telescope before its groundbreaking in March 1994, has a number of unique features that allow it to meet its science mission with unusual cost effectiveness. This fixed altitude design has a spherical primary mirror consisting of 91 identical hexagonal segments made of low expansion glass with a total collecting area of 77.6 square meters. The pupil of the HET varies from a maximum diameter of 9 meters as an all reflecting spherical aberration corrector tracks the astronomical target on the spherical focal surface of the primary mirror. This tracking is accomplished with a multi-axis system that provides precision motions and minimal pupil obstruction. A final focal plane field of view of 4 arc minutes at f/4.7 will deliver seeing limited images at the McDonald site. A combination of a 35 degree tilt from zenith.

The HET is well suited to spectroscopic follow-up of objects from wide field ground based and space based surveys. Instrumentation planned for the HET include a low resolution imaging spectrograph in the focal plane and fiber coupled medium and high resolution instruments. The fiber feeds allow rapid switching of instruments compatible with a queue scheduled observing mode. Anticipated performance of the HET with such instruments will be present along with the current status of the project.

First light is expected in 1996.

Wednesday program listing