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UK-made lenses empower Greek wide field imager

14 Sep 2016

National Observatory of Athens installing high-precision lenses at Helmos for wide field imager.

UK-based company Optical Surfaces has supplied to the National Observatory of Athens a series of high precision lenses designed for a wide field imager that will extend the capabilities of its 2.3m Aristarchos Telescope.

The Aristarchos Wide-Field Camera is a wide field imager, designed for the 2.3m Aristarchos telescope at the Helmos Observatory in Greece, located 200km west of Athens. The imager has a 26 x 26 arcmin field of view on the sky with a resolution better than 1 arcsecond per pixel.

It will be used for SDSS imaging and calculation of precise photometric redshifts of space objects, such as supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei, in sky fields covered by the European Space Agency’s XMM satellite and high resolution narrow-band imaging of large filamentary structures, such as supernova remnants and planetary nebulae.

First light: 2017

For the latter, the AWFC will provide unique information about their structure and morphology which will help significantly to study their kinematics and dynamics together with subsequent spectroscopic observations. The wide field imager has been manufactured and is in its testing phase in the optical lab. Commissioning of the AWFC on the 2.3m Aristarchos telescope and first light is expected in 2017.

The National Observatory of Athens selected Optical Surfaces to manufacture and supply an 160 mm diameter Field Lens and a Collimator lens assembly, comprising a cemented doublet, a meniscus lens and a biconvex lens. All of these high-precision AR-coated lenses were designed to perform well over a wide range of wavelengths, in order to maintain the high performance and achromatic nature of the reflective optics of the Aristarchos telescope – but over a much wider field of view.

Dr Panayotis Boumis, a senior researcher within the NOA, said, “Throughout this project, Optical Surfaces has provided us with a wealth of technical input, demonstrating their extensive experience and knowledge in designing high precision optics and lens assemblies for telescopes.”

Dr Aris Kouris, sales manager at Optical Surfaces, commented, “We are pleased to have been selected by the NOA to have provide advice on the final design of the lenses to extend the performance of their 2.3m Aristarchos telescope.

"Drawing upon over 50 years’ experience in telescope optics design and manufacturing we were able to come up with easily manufactured lens designs that delivered the required high performance whilst maintaining cost competitiveness. This is the second time that we have worked with the NOA and are happy that we have been of help once again for such an important project and customer.”

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