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In my previous observations on the drone mess, I briefly passed over the Reagan-era Star Wars bundle of laser technology that wound up at nearby Yerkes Observatory, here at Geneva Lake, Wisconsin. Yerkes is the founding home of astrophysics in America, and still houses the world’s largest refracting telescope. Jim Gee, who runns Yerkes for the University of Chicago, is a friend and saw my “Droning” blog. He added some valuable detail on what lies beneath those giant telescopes at Yerkes, as a portion of what taxpayers spent a billion or so on in hopes of being able to “kill” Russian missles with a space-based laser system. Yerkes has put that tech equipment to some good peaceful use, thank the heavens! I suppose we may hear some more about drones in the State of the Union address tonight. Here’s Jim’s comments:

The equipment at Yerkes is the Star Wars declassified Wave-front Correction System (referred to as the WCE). It was awarded to the University of Chicago in 1994, it is the “adaptive optics” instrument from Star Wars, which I would describe as the “eyes” of the system. It was designed to spot incoming missile plumes and accurately direct the laser to zap the bad guys before the missile could hit the U.S. The WCE now lives ground level in the South Tower and was used through the 90’s to clarify CCD images taken with the 41” reflecting telescope. It takes the “twinkling” out of star images.

The WCE rests atop a very heavy and solid optical bench; no card tables are used.

The whole system connects to the 41” telescope (4 floors above) through an evacuated stainless steel tube which provides a stable light path. The top of the tube connects to the coude focus of the telescope, the ground level (bottom of the tube) focuses the telescope images back to the WCE via a series of strategically placed mirrors….. but I drone on………

May 2022

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