A short photo story about a trip to the Caucasus Mountain Observatory

    This is how you sit in your office, develop a device, and then find yourself in a taxi, which stands in front of the gates of the Caucasus Mountain Observatory of GAISH Moscow State University at an altitude of 2 km above sea level.

    Some bold photos under the cut.

    A couple of months ago, our tiny engineering bureau took an order to develop a device for a telescope. I won’t tell you about the device in detail, because you must comply with the NDA. Outside the window was spring Petersburg, the electronics engineers soldered the circuit, wrote the firmware, I made models, prepared control programs for the CNC, and milled the parts one at a time. On one of the days the device was assembled, and dozens of test launches remained behind. A message from the customer flew into the messenger that it was time to fly out to field trials and after a couple of hours a ticket Petersburg - Mineralnye Vody fell into the mail. Test Place -Caucasus Mountain Observatory GAISH MSU .

    To tell you the truth, I never looked through a telescope in my life, and I didn’t even stand next to the people watching, although I signed up for all possible astronomical and just space publics, as well as watching Curiosity from his very first solo with constant interest. But KGO knew about the existence, unlike all taxi drivers, that they live near the Mineralnye Vody airport. So, upon arrival, I had to explain for a long time, first to the dispatchers, and then to the drivers, that if you go outside Kislovodsk and find a place called Kichi-Balyk, then climbing up the mountain you can find two whole observatories and the highest of them will be KGO. Only GPS coordinates helped, because Yandex.Maps weren’t found by the dispatchers, but they don’t know and don’t want to know Google Maps.

    From the taxi window, the road looked colorful and in places was very similar to the landscapes of New Zealand, if you imagine that there are no road signs and cars with Russian numbers:

    Exactly until the moment when we drove to the height of those clouds that were seen from afar:

    Because when we climbed to the very top and approached the gates of the KGO, then we were inside the rain cloud and it seemed that the rain had come from all directions.

    It turned out that in cloudy weather very often a cloud literally crawls into the territory and in a matter of seconds the visibility drops to two to three meters. Here in this photo you can see the pavilion with a small telescope, and in a minute the large telescope in the background became completely invisible:

    The large telescope is a 2.5 m mirror telescope with five ports (1 Cassegrain focus and 4 Nesmith foci), on which different equipment can be mounted.

    Under the dome, it looks like this:

    This is its secondary mirror:

    And this is me for comparison: The

    domed climate is provided by an air conditioning and ventilation installation, which drives air along the insulated air ducts, blowing it around the perimeter of the dome and taking it back: A

    separate oil station provides smooth running of all bearings:

    And these are communications that neatly slide into the basement and go into the observation room:

    In this photo you can see the rails for the movement of the cart, on which the main mirror falls:

    Then this mirror can be sent to the restoration of the mirror coating, which is located in the neighboring building: I

    must say that the observatory has excellent mechanical, electromechanical and auto repair shops that have literally everything that may be needed to solve technical issues.

    Between the buildings, we drove a branded gazelle, in which the headlights were switched on at night by pulling the throttle grip handle toward you.

    In good weather, from the site of a large telescope, the rest of the pavilions look like this:

    Here is one of the smaller telescopes on which we tested:

    The telescope can be pointed both manually and remotely. However, how to manage the dome:

    This telescope is mainly used for photometry, in particular for studying the variation in the light of celestial bodies. So, for example, you can find an exoplanet that revolves around its star and periodically “darkens” it.

    The image is received on a laptop:

    In general, if in a house where astronomers live, someone sits in the kitchen in front of a laptop and a cup of tea for a long night, then most likely this person is observing, but not looking at memes.

    The tests were successful and the last important thing, of course, was to photograph the poor machine, which barely drove on gas due to the rarefied mountain air.

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