Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/307

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299
STELLAR EVOLUTION.

horizon. In order that the observing slit may be directed to any part of the sky the dome, 90 feet in diameter, is mounted on wheels and can be turned to any desired position by means of an electric motor controlled from the rising-floor.

The telescope is used for a great variety of purposes in conjunction with appropriate instruments, which are attached to the lower end of the tube near the point where the image is formed. I have already shown a photograph of a star cluster taken with this telescope, but without describing the process of making it. As a matter of fact the object-glass of the 40-inch telescope was designed for visual observations, and its maker, the late Alvan G. Clark, had no idea that it would ever be employed for photography. Without dwelling upon the distinguishing features of visual and photographic lenses I may say that the former is so designed by the optician as to unite into an image those rays of light, particularly the yellow and the green, to which the eye is most sensitive. With the only varieties of optical glass which can be obtained in large pieces it is impossible to unite in a single clearly defined image all of the red, the yellow, the green, the blue, and the violet rays which reach us from a star. Therefore when the optician decides to produce an image most suitable for eye observations he deliberately discards the blue and violet rays, simply because they are less important to the eye than the yellow and green rays. For this reason the image of a star produced by a large refracting telescope is surrounded by a blue halo containing the rays discarded by the optician. These very rays, however, are the ones to which the ordinary photographic plate is most sensitive; hence in a photographic telescope the blue and violet rays are united, while the yellow and green rays are discarded.

The 40-inch telescope is of the first type, constructed primarily for visual observations. In order to adapt it for photography Mr. G. W. Ritchey of the observatory staff simply places before the (isochromatic) plate a thin screen of yellow glass, which cuts out the blue rays, but allows the yellow and green rays to pass. As isochromatic plates are sensitive to yellow and green light there is no difficulty in securing an image with the rays which the object-glass unites into a perfect image. During the entire time of the exposure a star which lies just outside the region to be photographed is observed through an eye-piece magnifying 1,000 diameters. This eye-piece is attached to the frame which carries the photographic plate, and is susceptible of motion in two directions at right angles to each other. In the center of the eye-piece are two very fine cross-hairs of spider web illuminated by a small incandescent lamp. If the observer notices that through some slight irregularity in the motion of the telescope, or through some change of refraction in the earth's atmosphere, the star image is