Photo By John Mahony
Photo By John Mahony
Equipment
Prairie Grass observatory is home to a number of excellent instruments to allow us to share the night sky with our visitors.  In addition to the featured telescopes below, we have a fine collection of wide eye-relief eyepieces as well as cameras and projectors to allow anyone to view the night (or day via our H-Alpha filter) sky individually or as a group.

We are proud of our many supporters who have funded these fine additions over the years and pass along the many thanks from our visitors. 

If you are in the area, please check our schedule to see if we will be out observing.  If our schedules do not 'click', then feel free to contact the camp ranger (Hoppy) or one of the people on the schedule page to see if we can find a time convienent to you and us.
Our monster Dob: a 28" aperture Starmaster Dobsonian with Sky Tracker goto drive system.
It's over 10 feet tall when aimed straight up.
Installing our new Meade 16" LX200R , a larger and newer version of our old 12" LX200.  This scope is on a fully computerized mount.  Besides having built-in automated pointing ability to any of over 147,000 celestial objects, it can also be operated via computer in conjuction with a wide range of astronomical software.  We can even operate it remotely, with various digital imaging equipment attached, from any computer connected to the internet.
(This scope has since been replaced by the 16" LX200R.
Russ shows some Boy Scouts a view of the sun in our (old) Meade12" LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, here equipped with a Daystar 0.6 Angstrom Hydrogen-Alpha filter.  Besides the sunspots visible in normal white light filters, this filter also shows solar flares, prominences, and many other details.  Click here for photos we've taken through this filter.
The moon wasn't up, so we kept an eye out for UFOs while waiting our turn on the H-alpha filter.
This scope is a Meade 16" Starfinder Equatorial Newtonian .   This scope can be operated manually or with Meade's Magellan II computerized pointing system .

Both scopes are mounted on Astro Piers by Le-Seur Manufacturing.
Our new refractor:  Buck Harley (1945-2007) donated his Meade 7" ED apochromatic refractor to PGO.
It's shown here on an adjustable-height pier, in the new domed observatory building we built at PGO.
Some images Buck took with it are in our astrophoto gallery.
Our Oberwerk (don't let the German name fool you- they're Chinese military binoculars) on a parallelogram-type Millenium UniMount from Universal Astronomics. This type of mount allows raising or lowering the binoculars without changing the aim, so that different people can view the same object without re-aiming.
Other Equipment:
Celestron 100mm f/5 refractor telescope, usually used as a guidescope on the 16" LX200R. Donated by Dan Allbaugh.

Meade 416XTE CCD Camera with 201 XT autoguider  and 616 Color Filter Wheel - very light-sensitive astronomical digital camera, on loan from John Mahony.

Apogee AP47p CCD Camera.  This camera has a 1k X 1k thinned, back-illuminated chip, and -50°C cooling. A substantial improvement over the Meade 416 camera. The Apogee camera is loan from Purdue, in exchange for hosting occasional group viewing nights at PGO for their astronomy classes.

SAC IVc camera, which is a Logitech webcam in a container designed to attach to a scope. Donated by Buck Harley, who also added a Peltier cooler to reduce noise in the image. Modified for long exposure (deep-sky imaging) by John Mahony. Then later put in an uncooled box, to make room for:

(2) Phillips TouCam 740 webcams - a remarkably effective way to get very high resolution planet images. One is on loan from John Mahony, and is used for planet imaging. The other was donated by Buck Harlen. The Toucam has far fewer "hot pixels" than the SAC/Logitech camera Buck had donated earlier (see above), so I modified this Toucam for long exposure and put it in the cooled container formerly occupied by the SAC, which is now in a simple uncooled metal box.