Aries 16" RC Main Page

Aries 16" RC scope shown mounted on an Astro-Physics 1200GTO mount.

The "small" scope mounted on top is an Astro-Physics 130EDT 5" f/8 refractor. This serves as a finder scope for the main instrument.


The Aries RC is a very special telescope. Optics have been figured by to a level not found in other amateur telescopes. RMS error is 0.02 wave for the f/9 optics set. For the f/16, the RMS error is a scant .015 wave! They achieve this precision through a computer controlled ion-beam figuring system. From what I've seen during star testing, I've no reason to doubt these figures. Absolutely amazing!

The mirror is made of Sitall, which is comparable to CerVit and Zerodur. As can be seen on the photo above, there are several cooling fans which do seem to help bring the massive mirror to ambient temperature quite quickly.

In addition, this particular instrument has two separate secondary assemblies. A fine line can be seen near the front of the scope. The entire front end of the scope can be removed allowing the selection of a small obstruction f/16 optic or the full wide-field RC capability at f/9.

First light photos with this scope are very encouraging as shown below. Please note that most of these were taken under very poor transparency conditions - magnitude 2.0 stars were just barely visible. However seeing was quite steady for the high resolution shots. Stellar FWHM was under 2" for some of these shots. I look forward to taking some long exposure photographs through this amazing instrument.

All images were made using a Finger Lakes Instrumentation Dream Machine. This is a back-illuminated chip with 1024x1024 pixels, each 24um square. At f/16 this results in a very nice 0.77"/pixel. At f/9, the system gives 1.37"/pixel, still quite useful for typical seeing conditions.

Feel free to contact me for more information on this Aries Optics scope. Aries typically makes scopes for other manufacturers, space, industry and scientific applications. Fortunately, they will work with advanced amateurs as well :-)  This IS a custom system, so don't expect to be able to place an order and receive a scope a week later. My scope took about a year and a half to arrive, which is quite good as it's shorter than the waiting list for some other commercial optics!

M27 Red Channel. f/9 optics
I haven't perfected fine focusing for this shot, so it's not quite as sharp as I've seen subsequently.
(taken under normal seeing conditions)

M27 Blue Channel. Same conditions as for red

M27 - Taken using f/16 optics under very still conditions. The resolution of this shot is evidenced by the small stellar sizes. Image very slightly RL deconvolved. Note too that no guiding was performed, other than that provided by the AP1200 mount.

Individual exposures were 30 seconds each. 57 images were dark corrected and merged to obtain this shot. The black striping on the right bottom of the shot are from bad columns in my camera.


M13 - Taken using f/16 optics.

High resolution view of the core of the great globular cluster in Hercules. In order to bring out some of the fainter stars, the image has been scaled through a gamma display. The image has also been enhanced through Richardson-Lucy deconvolution.

The resolution of this image compares vary favorably with some of the best amateur shots of M13.

As with the other first light shots on this page, no guiding was used. It is exciting to imagine what this instrument will be capable of when combined with a high-speed tip-tilt mirror system.

For comparison, the image on the right is the original image, before deconvolution. It's a more aesthetically pleasing image though it doesn't show the true resolution captured.


Sept. 9, 2002 - skies much darker than for other shots. The very young moon had almost set and stars to about mag 4.5 were visible (that's good for my site...)

Another night out. The image to the left was taken using a Starlight XPress HX-516 camera (7.4 micron pixels) and the f/9 optical system. This yielded what most would consider an unusable image scale: 0.42"/pixel!

The original data were collected using 5 second exposures. This was done to help combat some seeing issues and periodic error issues since I wasn't guiding.

100 images were collected. Out of these, 64 were chosen. Most of these were only marginal. Fast seeing was quite poor, though the slow component was very good. The result was stars that don't dance but instead rapidly distort in place. Even an AO unit wouldn't have done anything to help!

After the images were dark/bias corrected and summed, they were deconvolved with  Maximum Entropy in MaxIm DL/CCD. A little contrast modification was used to bring out some of the fainter stars.

The resultant image shows stars as small as 1", though most are between 1.25" and 1.5". Again showing just what a remarkable instrument the Aries RC is. Every night out I am more impressed!

For comparison, see some of the highest resolution M13 photos found on the web:

Lowell 31" telescope
Optics guru, Roland Christen with AP/Aries 10" Mak
Ron Wodaski's shot - the most beautiful  M13 I've ever seen
Stellar Products adaptive optics with a 9" scope. The highest resolution amateur shot I've seen

Gemini North telescope - about 15x the resolution of my shot. So detailed, I can't even figure out which stars are which!

M57 - f/16 optics. Scope not yet cooled down fully and skies somewhat turbulent so resolution doesn't match that of other shots at this magnification. After some unsharp masking to enhance the subtle ring structure.