Astro News Briefs: October 21–October 27

New Infrared Camera for Palomar 200-Inch Telescope

October 21, 2002 | The California Institute of Technology recently attached a new digital infrared camera on its 200-inch Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory in hopes of detecting galaxies created soon after the Big Bang. The panoramic camera, complete with a $350,000 sensor manufactured by Rockwell Scientific, will operate at 2048 x 2048 pixel resolution. The camera produced a "leap in capability — a factor of 64 increase in survey speed at a single stroke," for the Hale telescope, says Richard Ellis, director of Caltech optical observatories.

The Hale telescope, finished in 1948, is the oldest of its size and continues to make significant contributions to scientific research. With the addition of the new camera, Hale’s focus will be continue to be on the expanding universe, which causes distant galaxies to speed away from the Earth, shifting their once-visible light to the infrared portion of the spectrum.