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Located alongside the Owa Ehan building, just south of the Chemistry and Physics building on the Modesto Maidique A. Campus, the Stocker AstroScience Center is four stories tall with three floors within the tower footprint.

Design

The Exhibition Hall/Main entrance and Astronomy lab room doubles as a public lecture space. The Floor of the Main Exhibition hall features a 6' Glass Tile Mosaic of an original work by Clayton Bryant Young depicting the transition from the Everglades to the Stars. It also features astronomy displays, including the Physics of Star Trek, and pictures from the Southern Cross Astronomical Society.

Exhibition Hall

The Exhibition Hall is 1.5 stories high and has a domed ceiling simulating the night sky. The glass mosaic tile floor showcases the transition from Everglades environment to space. It’s illuminated by a spectacular chandelier hanging from the starry domed ceiling giving the visitor the impression of walking into a multi-dimensional space.

Along the circular walls, students and visitors can enjoy exhibits displaying astronomical photos made by local astro-photographers, historical astronomy exhibits and other astronomy-themed displays. In addition to its function as a museum and display room, this room is an ideal location to host small gatherings.

Telescope & Starship Control Room

  • Telescope

    The main telescope is an Astronomical Consultants and Equipment (ACE) 24-inch (0.61-meter) Ritchey-Chretien telescope with focal ratio F6.2. A Ritchey-Chretien wide-field Cassegrain telescope can easily be identified by the rather large secondary mirror, typically 40% of the primary diameter. This is the best configuration for CCD imaging as the optics produce round star images at relatively large distances off-axis. A suitably designed field aplanatic field corrector will yield diffraction-limited images over the entire field. The full capability of the RC system is lost in many telescopes that cannot keep the optics collimated and that suffer from tube currents. ACE provides Ritchey-Chretien optics with or without the field corrector depending on the client's scientific requirements.

  • Starship

    The central 75-inch monitor can display any of the computer screens in the room, and its output can be displayed in the lab room on the first floor. The four 40-inch monitors on either side of the main screen show the environmental screens for Kitt Peak (SARA North) (left) and Cerro Tololo (SARA South) (right).

    The computer screens on the console are the actual screens telescope operators use to control the SARA North (left) and SARA South (right) telescopes. This view shows the data storage and reduction consoles on the left station and the local telescope control screens on the right console. The large console at the bottom of the screen is the principal investigators' station (Captain). This console can control any of the other displays and choose to put them on the main console if problems arise.

    FIU is a member of the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA) consortium which consists of ten universities that together operate research telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) in Arizona, and at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. Both of these telescopes are operated remotely during some nights using control computers at FIU. The SARA Control room will house computers equipped to control both instruments as well as the local telescope in the dome atop the Stocker AstroScence Center, the FIU telescope.

    Dr. Webb’s investigation into the most efficient layout for control rooms led to a particularly efficient arrangement that opened up a unique stylistic opportunity. The most efficient arrangement for the circular SARA control room would be a layout that features stations for control of each telescope facing a main large screen monitor. On the wall opposite the entrance, the large-screen monitor will be able to display any of the images from the three telescopes (KPNO, CTIO, FIU). Weather monitors for all three observatories will be prominently displayed on smaller screens mounted on either side of the main screen so observers can constantly monitor the weather conditions at all three locations at a glance.

    Students who will be controlling the telescopes will occupy a semicircular desk facing the large monitor, each operator having two screens: one for telescope control and the other for camera control. Behind the telescope, controllers will be a station for the principal investigator (PI). From here, the astronomer in charge of the night will sit and monitor the activities of all of the telescopes. The PI computer would have the ability to see any of the telescope screens, as well as project any of the monitors up on the large screen. Around the sides will be two computer stations where students can analyze and print the data.

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