Fun Facts About The Adler Planetarium’s Doane Observatory Telescope In Chicago
Header Image: Adler Planetarium 24″ reflecting telescope in the Doane Observatory after installation in 2020.
Did you know the Doane Observatory is home to the largest publicly accessible telescope in Chicago? Since opening in 1977, the observatory in Chicago has had several telescopes within its walls, and these telescopes have given Chicagoans the opportunity to look up at the Sun, the Moon, stars, nebulae and planets despite light pollution’s interference in the city.
Fun Facts About The Current Doane Observatory Telescope
- The Doane’s current telescope was installed in February 2020.
- In all, our current 24-inch telescope gathers about 7,000 times more light than your eye alone.
- Some of the internal pieces of the telescope were 3-D printed and several parts of our telescope are made of carbon fiber.
- The mirrors of the Doane Observatory telescope are made of fused silica and coated with a reflective layer of aluminum.
- The main part of the telescope is not a single solid tube. There are trusses and struts that connect pieces of the tube together, with openings in between. This keeps the overall weight of the telescope down and also helps with airflow through the telescope.
- In total, this astronomical instrument weighs 240 pounds, and the L-shaped mount it sits on weighs 338 pounds.
- Even though the 24-inch telescope is larger than our prior 20-inch telescope, the combination of carbon fiber pieces, open trusses, and 3-D printed pieces means that our new telescope and mount together weigh only about 1/3rd what our prior telescope and mount weighed.
- What’s the most distant object our telescope can see? That’s kind of a hard question to answer given the light pollution in Chicago, but if the sky conditions are really, really good, we might be able to catch 3C273, a quasar located in the direction of the constellation Virgo. 3C273 is about 2.4 billion light years away…meaning if you can spot this object, the light hitting your eyes left it 2.4 billion years ago.
- A process called “tuning” helps us better track objects in the night sky. Listen to this process here!
- Technical Information About The Telescope
Interested In Observing The Universe Through The Doane Observatory?
Depending on the weather and visibility, the Doane Observatory is open on Wednesday nights during Adler at Night. To know when the Doane will be open, join our Facebook Group. You can also check in at the box office on the evening of your visit to inquire about the availability of the Observatory.