New telescope combines 10 Canon lenses in a ‘first of its kind’ array

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Located at Siding Spring Observatory, the Huntsman Telescope is an array of 10 Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS II super-telephoto lenses that will study ultra-faint objects in the southern sky.

The Huntsman Telescope used by PhD students at Macquarie University’s School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. (Source: Canon.)

The Telescope’s name comes from a family of common spiders found widely throughout Australia and renowned for their speed and way of hunting. The new telescope is designed to “hunt” and study ultra-faint galaxies and astronomical objects in the southern sky. Located at Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran, NSW, the Huntsman Telescope will survey the southern deep sky to provide researchers with a unique understanding of galaxy formation and evolution; how galaxies form, how they grow, how they interact with structures around them, and what happens when galaxies collide.

The telescope uses an array of 10 “off-the-shelf” Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS II super-telephoto lenses, which are normally used by professional sports and wildlife photographers. These second-generation lenses have superior anti-reflective properties thanks to Canon’s patented nano-engineered coatings with sub-wavelength structures on the optical glass. This should provide more reliable image quality than a conventional mirror telescope, whose imperfectly polished surface can introduce subtle errors that ruin the extensive and faint structures surrounding galaxies. Each lens in the array is equipped with a single monolithic wide-field detector covering six square degrees. With multiple redundant lines of sight, the Huntsman is capable of extremely accurate emission modeling of the night sky and producing ultra-clear renderings of our universe.

One of the first images captured by the Huntsman Telescope: The Orion Nebula. Photographed by Sarah Caddy, PhD candidate.

The Huntsman Telescope project is a joint project between the Macquarie University School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and the Australian Astronomical Optics Macquarie, both within the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Macquarie University. The project is financially supported by a Discovery Project awarded by the Australian Research Council. Of the nine members of the Huntsman Telescope’s technical and scientific team, five are Macquarie PhD students, who benefit from the unique opportunity to have hands-on training with such high-tech equipment. The Huntsman Telescope will be open to the public on October 1, 2022, as part of the star party. Click on here for more information on the Huntsman Telescope.

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