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17" Planewave CDK Telescope and L500 Mount

The main observatory scope was commissioned in July, 2022 and nicknamed “Ray” as a tribute to Ray Stonecipher. In addition to providing key leadership in the formative years of DPAS, Ray, together with his wife Ruthie, donated the funds used to purchase this scope.

This reflector telescope is a Corrected Dall-Kirkham, designed and manufactured by PlaneWave. The PlaneWave CDK17 is unique in that it is virtually free of optical aberrations across the entire field of view.

Scopes of this design are ideally suited for capturing high quality images using modern astroimaging cameras with large sensors. No more blurry stars, fake “comets,” or little tadpoles swimming around in the corners of images!


The DPAS CDK17 features:

• A large imaging plane (70mm diameter)
• Images that are virtually free of coma, off-axis astigmatism, or field curvature
• Optical design using an ellipsoidal primary mirror, a spherical secondary mirror and a lens group
• Carbon fiber truss structure for light weight, strength, and thermal stability
• A focuser that provides automatic focusing and field derotation
• Fans and heaters for dew management
• A mirror diameter of 432mm and a focal length of 2939mm (f/6.8)


Supporting and steering “Ray” is a state-of-the-art, direct drive PlaneWave L500 mount in an alt-az configuration. Once a sky model was generated, the pointing accuracy of this mount has been nearly perfect. Object after object can be acquired and placed in the center of the field of view, without the need to platesolve or manually slew.

The direct drive design and on-axis encoders allow the L500 to be completely free from periodic error and to track virtually error-free for long exposures without any guiding at all.
Ray’s “eye” consists of a CMOS color astroimaging camera. The 24 megapixel QHY128C Pro has a full frame (36mm x 24mm) sensor and 5.96 micron picture elements. The resolution is 6036 x 4024 pixels. This camera is well suited for displaying realtime images for public viewing, capturing multiple exposures for high quality astrophotographs, and supporting “citizen science” projects.

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