Maintenance and operation of telescope optics
The subject of “telescope optics” , as treated in the literature, is largely the remarkable story of the development of optical theory and design, manufacture and test procedures, going hand in hand with mechanics and then with electronics, to enable larger sizes with improved quality and observing convenience. However, the final criterion of the effectiveness of a telescope is determined in operation. The rich history of astronomical observation is full of examples of good results being achieved by brilliant use of modest equipment and telescopes of inferior quality. But, in general, the most spectacular work will be at or near the limits of the equipment available at the time. A telescope which has full state-of-the-art potential from its design and manufacture must then be maintained and operated to realise this potential, otherwise the investment is partially thrown away. This comment may seem banal, but it points to a major weakness of the modern ground-based optical telescope community. The pressures of funding and prestige, together with the interest of modern telescopes in generating industrial contracts (even though these are modest compared with most industrial activities), result in a massive over-emphasis on the development of new equipment, compared with the necessary infrastructure to operate it in the most cost-effective and productive way.
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