Not many pieces of equipment operate well at –199°F, but telescope mounts at Concordia Station in Antarctica happen to be one of them. Credit for this goes, in part, to the coreless servomotors that position the telescope.

Resources:
Astro-Physics, www.astro-physics.com
maxon precision motors inc., www.maxonmotorusa.com

The servomotors work through a reduction drive in a 3600GTO telescope mount from Astro Physics Inc., Machesney Park, Ill. The mounts, which never need greasing after being installed, are equatorial types which swing the telescope in an arc that follows the stars as they seemingly move across the sky due to Earth’s rotation. This simplifies the task of making long observations.

Most iron-core motors jerk when operating slowly, as would be the case with a telescope’s azimuth rotation following the stars. The Astro Physics mounts rely on coreless servomotors from maxon precision motors inc., Fall River, Mass., that don’t jerk or exhibit cogging. The motors, which use graphite or precious-metal brushes, also contain neodymium magnets, which provide high torque per unit size.

The motors handle both the ascension axis (parallel to the Earth’s axis) and the declination axis, which positions the telescope to a point in the sky. The telescope itself weighs a quarter ton and is maintained by the Laboratoire Universitaire d’Astrophysique de Nice.

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