Categories: Observatories

Installing the PW1000 at Palomar Observatory

Nestled into the mountains of North San Diego County rests Palomar Observatory, an iconic center for astronomical research and home to the newest installation of the extraordinary 1-meter telescope from PlaneWave Instruments.


The Palomar Observatory has stood as competitive mecca for scientific advancement, instrument development, and student training for nearly 100 years, drawing astronomers, observers, and researchers from around the world. Owned by the California Institute of Technology, the Palomar Observatory is an active research facility that observes on every clear night, offering astronomers the opportunity to research a diverse array of topics in-person or remotely.


In June, the PlaneWave team set off for California to install Palomar’s newest research tool: the PW1000. Beneath blue skies, PlaneWave staff installed the PW1000, a 1-meter observatory-class telescope coupled to direct-drive motors that provide incredibly smooth tracking and slewing performance.


Features of the PW1000:

  • 1-meter aperture at f/6 and 6,000mm focal length providing pinpoint stars across a 100mm image circle (1 degree)
  • No coma, no off-axis astigmatism, and no field curvature
  • Compact Alt/Az design with dual Nasmyth ports allowing multiple instrumentation payloads to be installed on the telescope
  • Integrated direct drive field de-rotator / rotational field framing
  • Integrated direct drive mount with absolute encoders, zero periodic error, zero backlash, and minimal maintenance due to the lack of gears
  • Slew speeds up to 50 degrees/sec for satellite tracking and fast target acquisition
  • Optional 0.7x reducer for imaging at f/4.25 at 4,250mm focal length (part number 1000166)
  • Fast 1-day installation and on-sky taking images that same night (weather dependent)


Though the PW1000 is the newest addition to this historic research center, the Palomar Observatory also boasts a 60-inch telescope, a 48-inch Samuel Oschin telescope, and the 200-inch Hale telescope, which was once the largest effective telescope in the world until 1993. The PW1000 is an exciting addition to the facility and will be used on the WINTER project from MIT and collaborative research with Caltech.


Click here to watch the PW1000’s installation video at the beautiful Palomar Observatory.

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