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Ship-mounted telescopes

Started by jacobson, 07/25/2006 01:33PM
Posted 07/25/2006 01:33PM Opening Post
As long as we're on the topic of offbeat telescopes, let me bring up a subject I've often wondered about. Has anyone seriously studied the idea of mounting a large telescope on a ship?

There could be many advantages. You'd only need an altitude axis, the ocean is the azimuth axis. Ultra-dark skies. Excellent seeing due to laminar airflow. If it's cloudy, sail to where it isn't. You can see the entire sky by sailing north or south. Since shipyards routinely handle thousands of tons, it would be easy to handle massive components without the logistical nightmare of hauling them up a mountain. No problems with getting permission to build on "sacred" ground. No endangered species to worry about.

Sure, there are a few problems. Number one: waves. But in this age of adaptive optics, I've got to think that the problem of a slowly rolling ship could be counteracted. Pirates. Corrosive salt air. Low altitude.

A few years ago I conducted a small experiment in shipboard astronomy. I set up my scope on a pontoon boat. I was surprised by how steady the view was. The main problem was that the boat continually turned from side to side. But a boat is a very pleasant place from which to do naked-eye or binocular astronomy.

I've never been on an eclipse cruise. No doubt those who have can offer additional insights.
Posted 07/25/2006 02:57PM #1
Why not solve several problems at once and build your telescope into a submarine (or oil platform)- let the buoyancy of the water counter the weight of the scope (truss models won't work! 8))- Or one could see a great use perhaps of old missile silos aboard ancient nuclear subs now being sold off by navies?

Jess Tauber