A rich and growing set of instruments for your use
The primary instrument used at the McCarthy Observatory is a 16″ Meade Schmidt Cassegrain telescope on an equatorial mount. Installed in 2000, and donated by the Ellen Knowles Harcourt Foundation, it has been a real workhorse of science and celestial exploration for our visitors. With this device, a student won the Intel International Science Fair, asteroids have been discovered, and many hundreds of observations of potentially hazard space objects have been accurately observed for science purposes.
Also mounted on the Meade mount system with the Harcourt telescope is a wonderful wide field 106mm Takahashi refracting telescope, a 5″ Meade refractor, and a Coronado solar telescope for observing detail on solar activity safely. We also have a 90mm Coronado solar filter set for higher contrast viewing of solar events.
The observatory also has a wonderful set of other telescopes for imaging, science use, and public event use. Key among these are 7″ and a 3.5″ Questar Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes, a 14.5″ truss-tube Dobsonian, and an 8″ Orion Schmidt-Cassegrain device. There is also a growing population of other donated equipment. The main telescope systems are computer-controlled and automated for rapid acquisition of target celestial objects, with high quality ,mounts and tracking software. The observatory has acquired an excellent set of fine eyepieces to fit all these telescopes and to meet the needs of the range of objects and seeing conditions that our visitors counter.
Special mention should be made of the superb collection of telescopes owned by the volunteers, who eagerly bring them to events and help our visitors observe through them and learn how to operate them. This collection is growing rapidly as volunteers work on fabricating their own mirrors and telescopes – at least six mirrors are now completed or in the process of finishing at this time.