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Made in Wales - Cardiff Astronomers launch new large teaching telescope

24 October 2008

CHANT telescope

The School of Physics and Astronomy has unveiled a new large optical telescope for use by students and the public.

CHANT - the Cardiff Half-metre Newise Telescope - has enormous capability for carrying out astronomy, even through the bright night skies of Cardiff.

Its size makes it equal to the largest of any UK university teaching telescope, and enables a level of image quality unparalleled by similar sized telescopes of more conventional designs, providing the School with a very powerful tool for the teaching of practical astronomy.

Professor Derek Ward-Thompson, observatory director, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn astronomy on what is essentially a research-class telescope. It will also be a marvellous resource for the general public. They will be able to come and look through a state of the art astronomical telescope. We very much hope that as many people as possible will take the chance to come along and look through the telescope on our Open Evenings throughout 2009."

The telescope's ultra-large half-metre diameter mirror makes it ideal for looking at faint stars, planets and distant galaxies and with next year marking the International Year of Astronomy 2009, the telescope will be used for public viewing on Open Evenings throughout the year.

The design of the telescope is highly novel. It is a variant on a Schmidt camera, with a Newtonian eye-piece. It has a spherical primary mirror and flat secondary mirror, but with sub-diameter lenses before and after the secondary mirror to correct any optical errors over a wide field of view. It has been built by a Conwy-based firm, Zerochromat and headed by optician Peter Wise. The design is based around a Newtonian format, and hence is known as a Newise

The new website for the School of Physics and Astronomy went live today, providing an improved user experience and an all-new look and feel. The site has a striking new homepage, a tidied site structure and updated content. Its featured Observatory section has been updated with the site visitor in mind, and the Current Students section holds much useful information and resources for Undergraduates and Postgraduates.