The Vatican Observatory’s main telescope is the Vatican Advance Technology Telescope (VATT), located atop Mount Graham in Arizona. When the telescope was built in the early 1990s, it represented an incredible advance in the technology of large telescope manufacture. Its primary mirror was the very first manufactured by the spin casting method at the Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory. At 1.8 meters, it is relatively small compared to its descendants, which are whoppers at 8.4 meters across each. (And the Giant Magellan Telescope will constructed of an array of 7 of those eight meter mirrors.)
The telescope is in great shape and has helped us do some great science. However, there’s always room for improvement, especially for a thirty year old instrument. One big project underway right now is to robotize the VATT. That is, to make it able to operate on its own or under a programmed observing plan. It will also be able to work in conjunction with other robotized telescopes throughout Arizona for coordinated observations of specified targets. This will greatly increase the efficiency and versatility of the telescope, and will also enable the VATT to do even better science carrying forward into the future!
We need your help! Introducing Vatty the Robot Telescope
I don’t have an exact number for the cost of the robotization effort, but it’s safe to say that it carries a hefty price tag. As we speak, the Vatican Observatory Foundation is busy raising funds to support this project.
As part of this endeavor, they asked me to make a mascot for the robotization. Let me introduce you to Vatty, the robot telescope!
A copy of Vatty, hand-made by myself, will be made for people who make a significant financial contribution to the robotization effort. Each Vatty will be personalized for the recipient and given a unique number.
Number One has already been made and given to Sr. Raffaella Petrini, the Vatican Secretary General. She was very pleased to receive it and said it will look great in her new office. (The prototype, no. 0, was given to Rich Friedrich in thanks for his service to the board.)
I made a YouTube video, posted to my channel Macke MakerSpace, covering the build of this model.
If you are interested in getting one, please contact the Vatican Observatory Foundation development director, Christopher Kennedy (firstname.lastname@example.org).