Local Amateur Astronomer Turns to Perry Tech

April 02, 2020

Students Help Create Unique Parts and Fittings for One-of-a-Kind Telescope

As a machinist, you often have the opportunity to take an idea and transform it into something real and tangible. Projects are often believed to revolve around manufacturing parts where components mainly support the likes of the aerospace, automotive and technological industries. But recently students studying the Precision Machining & Manufacturing program at Perry Tech were able to lend their precise skills to an entirely different field - astronomy.

What has been a labor of love for Bob Yoesle, owner and director of MAD Observatory, has become a great opportunity for students at Perry to create components for a one-of-a-kind solar telescope. Only six 140mm (5.5 inch) diameter hydrogen alpha solar filters were ever made in the early 2000's by Coronado Filters in Tucson, Arizona. Known as a “double stacked” 140mm hydrogen alpha solar telescope, Yoesle’s telescope employs a second 90mm (3.5 inch) hydrogen alpha filter inside the telescope tube, which dramatically improves the detail one can see in the Sun’s atmosphere – known as the chromosphere. “As an amateur astronomer I simply didn’t have the resources, nor was it practical to purchase the machining equipment, to bring my telescope to life,” stated Yoesle on the reason why he engaged Perry Tech for assistance. Yoesle continued, “Without the proper slots in the tube, vacuum couplings, filter cells and fitments, the internal etalon module would not have been tunable to see the optimum level of detail.”

Students were tasked with both drilling and threading the filter module simultaneously with the delicate solar filter - known as an “etalon” - still in place. This was required in order to manage air pressure through a unique vacuum-tuning system. When asked how students benefit from projects like this, Dan Steinmetz, Precision Machining & Manufacturing program head, said, “This is how it is in the real world. The demands are real, and the tolerances have no margin for error. I’ve been really proud to see my students be able to perform to the level that was needed.”

MAD Observatory, which stands for Mom And Dad Observatory, located near Goldendale, WA, was named as a tribute to Bob’s mother and father Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Yoesle. Bob credits his parents’ early support for his interest in and pursuit of amateur astronomy. Today, Yoesle offers the public an opportunity to safely view and study the Sun’s surface using the special filters in his many telescopes at schools and community events. Yoesle reports that his one-of-a-kind 140mm double stacked solar telescope is scheduled to be published in a new authoritative book on solar astronomy and equipment due out later this year.

To learn more about the various project opportunities for students or to tour the Precision Machining & Manufacturing program at Perry Tech, contact Admissions at 509.453.0374 or [email protected].

Local Amateur Astronomer Turns to Perry Tech
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