ESO 1-metre Schmidt telescope

The ESO 1-metre Schmidt telescope at La Silla began its service life in 1971 using photographic plates to take wide-field images of the southern sky four degrees across — which would cover the full Moon 64 times over. The original photographic camera was decommissioned in December 1998, but the telescope now has a new lease of life as a project telescope. In 2009, a group at Yale’s Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics installed a new large camera to conduct a southern hemisphere search for new Pluto-sized dwarf planets and supernovae: the LaSilla–QUEST Variability survey. The camera is a mosaic of 112 CCDs, with a total of 160 million pixels, covering the full field of view of the telescope. The survey is expected to cover about one third of the full sky (about 15 000 square degrees repeated almost every four days). The system is fully operational and controlled remotely from Yale. This project follows the group’s northern hemisphere search at Palomar that led to the discovery of the dwarf planet population, including Eris and Sedna.

Science goals

Magellanic clouds, star clusters, stellar associations in Galaxy

Science highlights with the ESO 1-metre Schmidt telescope

- Comet Halley develops a tail (eso8501).

- Long-lost planet found again (eso8611).

- Bubbles observed from a dying star (eso8703).

- Unusual Behavior observed in Supernova 1987A in the LMC (eso8706).

- Witnessing the violent birth of a solar-type star (eso8906).

- Comet Austin observed to have developed a long tail (eso9004).

- Schmidt telescope discovers new minor planet (eso9011).

- Strange new star spotted in the southern sky (eso9101).

- ENACS survey of southern galaxies indicates open Universe (eso9607).

- A strange supernova with a gamma-ray burst (eso9847).

ESO 1-metre Schmidt telescope

Name: ESO 1-metre Schmidt telescope
Site: La Silla
Altitude: 2375 m
Enclosure: Classical dome
Type: Astrophotographic telescope
Optical design: Schmidt reflector
Diameter. Primary M1: 1.62 m (Schmidt aperture 1.0 m)
Material. Primary M1: Duran 50 borosilicate
Diameter. Secondary M2: 1.0 m
Material. Secondary M2: Borosilicate (Silicon Dioxide)
Diameter. Tertiary M3: N/A
Mount: Equatorial fork mount
First Light date: 21 December 1971
Decommissioning date: New Yale QUEST camera installed 2009
Images taken with the ESO 1-metre Schmidt telescope: Link
Images of the ESO 1-metre Schmidt telescope: Link
Videos of the ESO 1-metre Schmidt telescope: Link
Press Releases with the ESO 1-metre Schmidt telescope: Link