History 1974-1981 University of Oklahoma
From August of 1973 to August of 1981 I attended the University of Oklahoma. The main observatory housed the 10" telescope shown at far left. It was built in 1936 by the PWA. During the following years Professor Balfor used a 5" astrograph to build up a very impressive collection of photographic plates that was used by researchers through the '80s. By the time I arrived in 1973 the observatory, which had been built to the south of campus near a frog pond, had been surrounded by three 14 story dormatories and rendered almost useless except for the monthly opehouses.
In the early 1970s an attempt was made to upgrade the instruments. A 12" cassegrain telescope was purchased (shown at far left). However, the observatory was built from a grain silo and was almost impossible to use. The entire silo rotated on a circular metal track and the slit was barely wide enough for the telescope to look through. Needless to say it was almost never used.
In the fall of 1979 Mike Pierce and I received a grant of $5000 to design and build a 10" Schmidt camera. The picture at the far left shows Mike (on the left) and I with the first incarnation of the camera. It had a 14" spherical F2 primary mirror and a 10" corrector plate we ground using Schmidt's original method. The original wooden mount had flexure problems so it was replaced with a much stronger formed fork arm and a welded steel mount. You can see the 3" refractor used as a guide scope.
The picture at the far left shows me holding the 14" primary and Mike holding up the semi-finished tube. The film holder was curved as is common in true Schmidt cameras and was 2 ¼" in diameter. The image on the left is a picture taken with the Schmidt of the double cluster in Perseus and shows the wide field (5 degrees) of the camera.
In 1976 I used the 10" to gude a piggyback camera with a 200mm telephoto lens to take the photo of Comet West shown to the left.
In February of 1979 I helped organize an expedition to the last solar eclipse in the continental United States until 2017. The picture at far left are the intrepid expedition members. From the left: Bill Kloepping, Kevin Burnett, Mark McCurdy, me, Mike Pierce and 'Wild Man' Jeff Friedman. We trekked from Norman Oklahoma to Montana, crisscrossing the state in an effort to beat the clouds. We ended up the night before in Billings Montana, got up early the next morning and headed north to the center line. The picture at left is one I took of totality.
In May of 1979 I graduated with my BS degree in Astrophysics, only the second Astrophysics degree that had been awarded by the University of Oklahoma up to that point. Mike Pierce would be the third. That summer I did data reduction of supernova spectra for Dr. David Branch which resulted in the paper shown to the left. Click on the image to read the full text.
In September of 1980 I went on an observing run at Kitt Peak National Observatory with Tibor Herzeg. Tibor took the first week and I took the second week. The picture at right shows the dome of the #3 16" telescope we used. It is no longer there, having been removed during budget cuts in the late '80s. We were observing WW Ursa Majoris binary stars. The resulting paper from that observing run is shown on the left. Click the image to read the text.