Lowell Planetary Project

In Brief:

Observatories involved: Republic Observatory

Instruments: Innes refractor

Duration: 1969 – 1974.





History: NASA funded Lowell Observatory to set up a network of medium sized telescopes, spread across the earth in longitude, as to obtain photographic material of the planets on a 24-hour basis. Lowell provided the chosen observatories with funding, the cameras and in a few cases, the telescopes. [Personal communication with G Roberts*: CL]

 The Republic Observatory was one of the chosen observatories in the network. It was decided that the observatory did not require a dedicated telescope. The project would share the Innes refractor used for double star work. The project required each observatory to take photos of the allocated planet: 15 images per hour taken through red blue and green filters, a total of 45 exposures per hour. With this telescope a problem arose with the very long focal length (f/90-) that made the telescope very slow. The filters were in a very narrow band, allowing very little light through and therefore the photos required very long exposures. To take the required 45 exposures per hour took much longer than anticipated, leaving little time for anything else. In practice this instrument became a dedicated instrument to the project. [Personal communication with G Roberts*: CL]

* Gregory Roberts was assigned as dedicated astronomer to this project.


Bibliography: -Moore, P. & Collins, P., Astronomy in Southern Africa, p.105 – 106. (General Source)
-Personal Communication with G Roberts.(CL)