The Keck Telescope Model Kit
Item #: MODELKITKECK
The Keck Telescope To get an idea of the scale of this giant Earth-based telescope, notice the tiny railings surrounding the central hexagon and its jutting platforms. They're a little taller than waist-height. The twin Keck Telescopes, on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, are indeed huge. They each have four times the light-collecting area of the 200-inch Hale Telescope on Mount Palomar, which, until Keck, was the world's premier astronomical telescope. Builders of the massive Hale had reached the limit of their technology. A telescope of Hale's construction having 4x its light collecting area would have had about eight times its mass - technically and financially an impossibility to construct. But the Keck Telescopes are not massive behemoths of the old school. Their use of computers, and highly advanced mechanical and systems designs have introduced a new paradigm. This Space Craft SCIENCE KIT shows exactly what that new paradigm is. As you build the structure, you see first hand how strong the lightweight structure becomes by virtue of its design. You see exactly how all 36 lightweight mirror segments are floated by computer-controlled actuators which maintain the overall mirror's perfect shape. And you can see exactly where the sensors are that let the computer do that. You see how stable its mounting system is (Keck uses a computer-controlled azimuth-elevation mounting system, a departure from the equatorial systems of older telescopes, with their asymmetric load bearing). All these concepts become perfectly clear, right at your fingertips. But let's go back to those waist-high railings. The scale of this model is close to the model-railroad "N" guage, so it isn't hard to find tiny plastic human figures or vehicles which, when displayed with the Keck model, illustrate its startling size.