New Home for the World’s Largest Amateur Telescope

By on April 5, 2017 in

Courtesy of Rodger C. Fry, SLAS Sec/Treasurer and SPOC Observatory Director, Salt Lake Astronomical Society

Telescope builder Mike Clements poses in front of the massive 70 inch wide mirror at the heart of his giant reflecting telescope. Credit: Steve Dodds

The World’s Largest Amateur Telescope, the Mike Clements 1.8 Meter (70 inch) telescope, has a new home in Utah at the Stansbury Park Observatory Complex (SPOC) the Salt Lake Astronomical Society’s Observatory.

Last November 2016 the last of the private funding was obtained from Private contributors and Salt Lake Astronomical Society (SLAS) members, thereby allowing SLAS to obtain a matching grant from Tooele County.

The Salt Lake Astronomical Society is holding a ground-breaking for the building that will house this planet’s largest amateur telescope, a behemoth with a mirror 70 inches in diameter and a frame 35 feet long. The informal session begins 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, at the group’s observatory in Stansbury Park, Tooele County.

Built by Utah stargazer Mike Clements, the ‘scope utilizes a mirror originally designed for a spy satellite. A small blemish prompted the government to sell it, and Clements was the buyer. He worked for years building the massive framework that holds the telescope’s other elements and allows it to steer across the heavens.

It is the fourth large telescope component of the group’s Stansbury Park Observatory Complex, where public and private star parties are held throughout the observing season.

Some 35 feet tall and housing a 70 inch diameter mirror, this may be the largest amateur-built telescope on the planet today. Credit: Steve Dodds

The new structure will have poured concrete walls eight feet high, anchoring a steel building that rises above the walls. For use, the telescope will be rolled out of the housing and oriented on a concrete pad.

As far as anyone in the astronomical community has been able to learn, Clements’ is the biggest amateur telescope in use today. For the past year, SLAS members, donors and government officials have raised funds and drawn plans for the project.

Major contributors, members of the society, Clements and possibly Tooele County officials will break ground in the brief ceremony. Following that, construction work will begin, with a projected completion date of May 1.

If all goes as scheduled, SLAS will hold a Public Grand Opening on May 20 beginning 4 p.m.

Additional stories about Mike Clements and his Telescope:

Mike Clements and his 70 inch Telescope (Jays Astronomy Observing Blog)
(Contains an article from the Tooele Transcript Newspaper in Feb 2016)

Utahn sets record by building world’s largest amateur telescope (KSL TV News)

Utah man builds largest amateur telescope on record (Salt Lake Tribune)

World’s Largest Backyard Telescope

Steel beams and a giant mirror: how a Utahn is creating a galactic first (KSL TV News)

World’s Largest Backyard Telescope (National Geographic)

About Susie Murph

Susie Murph is a Communications Specialist at CosmoQuest. She produces the Astronomy Cast, the Weekly Space Hangout and Daily Space.

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