Located at the Siding Spring Observatory, The Huntsman Telescope is an array of 10 Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS II super-telephoto lenses that will study ultra-faint objects in the Southern Sky.

The Huntsman Telescope in use by PhD-students from Macquarie University’s School of Mathematical & Physical Sciences.  (Source: Canon.)

The name of the telescope comes from a family of common spiders that are widely distributed throughout Australia and renowned for their speed and mode of hunting. The new telescope is designed to ‘hunt’ for and study ultra-faint galaxies and astronomical objects in the Southern Sky. Located at the Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran, NSW, the Huntsman Telescope will perform deep southern sky surveys to provide researchers with a unique understanding about galaxy formation and evolution; how galaxies form, how they grow, how they engage with structures that surround them, and what happens when galaxies collide.

The telescope uses an array of 10 ‘off-the-shelf’ Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS II super-telephoto lenses, which are normally used by professional sports and wildlife photographers. These second-generation lenses have superior anti-reflection properties due to Canon’s patented nano-fabricated coatings with sub-wavelength structures on optical glass. This should deliver more reliable image quality than a conventional mirror telescope, whose imperfectly polished surface can introduce subtle errors that ruin faint, extended structures surrounding galaxies. Each lens in the array is equipped with a single monolithic wide-field detector covering six square degrees. With multiple redundant lines of sight, the Huntsman is able to achieve extremely accurate modelling of the night sky emission and produce ultra-clear renderings of our universe.

One of the early images captured by The Huntsman Telescope:  The Orion-Nebula. Photographed by Sarah Caddy, PhD Candidate.

The Huntsman Telescope project is a jointly-led project from Macquarie University School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and the Australian Astronomical Optics Macquarie, both within the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Macquarie University. The project is supported financially by a Discovery Project awarded through the Australian Research Council. Of the nine members of the Huntsman Telescope’s technical and science team, five are Macquarie PhD students, who are benefiting from the unique opportunity to have hands-on training with such high-tech equipment. The Huntsman Telescope will be open to the public on 1 October 2022, as part of the annual StarFest. Click here for more information on The Huntsman Telescope.