Commissioning experience with the 9.2-m Hobby-Eberly Telescope

Thomas G. Barnes, Mark T. Adams, John A. Booth, Mark E. Cornell, Niall Gaffney, James R. Fowler, Gary J. Hill, Grant M. Hill, Craig Nance, Francois Piche, Lawrence W. Ramsey, Randall L. Ricklefs, William J. Spiesman, P. Thomas Worthington

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The HET is unique among 9-meter class telescopes in featuring an Arecibo-like design with a focal surface tracker. The focal surface tracker causes image quality and pointing/tracking performance to interact in a complex way that has no precedent in astronomical telescope system design and that has presented unusual demands upon commissioning. The fixed-elevation, segmented primary-mirror array offers some simplifications over traditional telescope design in principle, but has presented challenges in practice. The sky access characteristics of the HET also place unique demands on observational planning and discipline. The HET is distinguished by uniquely low construction and operating costs which affected commissioning. In this contribution, we describe those aspects of our commissioning experience that may impact how similar telescopes are designed, especially those with larger aperture, and review the challenges and lessons learned from commissioning a 9-meter class telescope with a small technical team.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-25
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2000
EventTelescope Structures, Enclosures, Controls, Assembly/Integration/Validation, and Commissioning - Munich, Ger
Duration: Mar 27 2000Mar 31 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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