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Space Science

Discovery Channel Telescope Snaps Inaugural Pictures 66

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the space-is-always-cool dept.
eldavojohn writes "Two decades ago ... Discovery Channel teamed up with Lowell Observatory and embarked upon a $53 million adventure: the fifth largest telescope in the United States funded entirely without state or federal money. The very first photos snapped with its 16 million pixel camera are in and they look beautiful. Yet to be seen are the simultaneous spectroscopic and imaging observations that should be provided to researchers by the DCT's Ritchey-Chretien instrument cube. Located near a dark-sky site (Coconino National Forest), scientists hope to use this new telescope to answer many research questions including how our solar system formed and how dwarf galaxies evolve. For more telescope porn, check out the DCT's photo tours. Luckily 'the process of planning and building the telescope is due to be featured in a one-hour Discovery Channel documentary set to air in September 2012.' Perhaps there is hope for Discovery Channel to return to its former glory?"
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Discovery Channel Telescope Snaps Inaugural Pictures

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  • What's the Matter? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday July 23, 2012 @06:23PM (#40742789) Journal
    Did my original submission [slashdot.org] strike a little too close to home?

    Two decades ago (before it went to shit [discovery.com]) ...

    Seriously, when I submitted that I was staring down ~10 hours of "Swamp Brothers," "Swamp Loggers" and "Gator Boys." Seriously. Now NatGeo is following suit [youtube.com] ... am I just getting curmudgeonly? How is this happening?

    • by zippo01 (688802)
      Try SciFi Channel Much better. They atleast run How It's Made when they have nothing else.
      • Do you mean the Science Channel? I've never seen How It's Made on the syphilis channel (SyFy). The Science Channel has a few decent shows. Through the Wormhole isn't bad, but anything with Morgan Freeman narrating is at least nice to listen to.

        Discovery OCCASIONALLY has good stuff, but unfortunately not like they used to. Much like the history channel. Other than Modern Marvels, there is much history related on there (though it is occasionally interesting to see the shit people find in their a
    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday July 23, 2012 @06:33PM (#40742893)

      How is this happening?

      Their goal is to earn money, not to generate quality content.

      • by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday July 23, 2012 @07:19PM (#40743371)

        Yep, why bother showing educational programs about astronomy when you can instead show a puerile drama about a couple of retards building shitty motorcycles and constantly arguing with each other?

        • Yep, why bother showing educational programs about astronomy when you can instead show a puerile drama about a couple of retards building shitty motorcycles and constantly arguing with each other?

          Let the market decide?

          • by Dunbal (464142) *
            The "market" consisting of the cable company oligopoly, right? Or do you seriously have a say over what channels you can have, outside of Package A, Package B, or Package C?
            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              It's worse than that; each package is usually a superset of the preceding package. And channels like Discovery tend to be in the basic package, so you don't get a choice to have it or not, unless you don't subscribe to cable at all.

              What I'd like to know is how they determine ratings these days. In the old days, the "Nielsen families" had extra boxes monitoring what they watched. These days, with cable boxes, they can have them report back to the cableco what people are watching, so I imagine they do that

            • The "market" consisting of the cable company oligopoly, right?

              Good point, but the market I was thinking about is the mass people who decide whether to tune in to educational programs about astronomy or a puerile drama about a couple of retards building shitty motorcycles and constantly arguing with each other.

              Presumably the latter is winning on this one, unless the execs just happen to like motodrama more than they like money.

      • by matunos (1587263)

        ...and as long as they are included in standard cable packages so they can get their franchise fee whether anyone watches them or not, they'll continue to head down crap lane with cheap reruns of shoddy programming.

        Yay Internet TV, 2052.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Discovery Channel Telescope Snaps Inaugural Pictures

      You would think they could get a press pass to the inaugural, so they wouldn't have to use a telescope.

      • by Rei (128717)

        First Discovery program about the telescope: "First Light Gala: The Discovery Channel Telescope, From Inception To Completion"
        Second Discovery program about the telescope: "Aliens Above Us: The Discovery Channel Telescope Provides Proof Of Bigfoot's Ghost Piloting A UFO"

    • another first... I don't remember a slashdot editor ever actually editing anything before....

    • their websites was just an IP address. They'd say visits ***.***.**.* for our new world wide web page. Those were the days...

    • by toejam13 (958243) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:54PM (#40744231)

      It is called the dumbing-down effect.

      Intelligent people have critical analysis skills and therefore tend not to be swayed by televised advertising. So advertisers are left targeting a everyone else. But you need content to bring in that target audience. Shows hosted by Carl Sagan aren't going to do it.

      As long as we have advertisement funded television programming, television will remain a medium for the lowest common denominator of programming. So that means shows involving a huge Quiverfull family of midgets operating a fishing boat out of Alaska and the fun antics of their scandalous daughter who has the audacity to show a little ankle.

      It will be very hard to transition to a television system where all channels are either public-private funded (such as PBS), are subscription based (such as HBO) or are single program PPV. Old people love their free TV and will vote out anyone who dares take it away from them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why was your original entry edited?
      Its because Discovery just bought /. as fodder for their new reality series "Geek People"

      Ducks... >;=)

    • Sadly there is a bigger audience for watching people wade around in swamps, go to pawn shops, dig antiques out of crazy people's backyards etc than for actual documentary television. The amount of crap on the channels that used to play interesting documentary type programing is depressing. We are rapidly headed back to the situation in the 70's when the only place playing that kind of programing is PBS. Though even that would require them to back off their steady stream of "Antiques Road Show".
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Seriously, when I submitted that I was staring down ~10 hours of "Swamp Brothers," "Swamp Loggers" and "Gator Boys." Seriously. Now NatGeo is following suit ... am I just getting curmudgeonly? How is this happening?

      it's called survival in an a-la-carte world.

      Discovery Channel knows that half the channels will die in an a-la-carte model, so the goal is to shuffle programming between all of them. Discovery Channel gets the high-rated reality shows. Then another Discovery-owned channel will run some other uniq

  • condolences (Score:4, Funny)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday July 23, 2012 @06:31PM (#40742867)

    I'm sorry to hear that their telescope snapped. Maybe they can glue it back together and add a reinforcing rod down the middle.

    • I'm sorry to hear that their telescope snapped. Maybe they can glue it back together and add a reinforcing rod down the middle.

      Hmmm. Let's investigate:

      "The very first photos snapped with its 16 million pixel camera are in and they look beautiful."

      OK. Bit of a cumbersome sentence, might have looked better with a few commas,

      "The very first photos, snapped with its 16 million pixel camera, are in and they look beautiful."

      No, that's not quite right. How about:

      "The very first photos snapped, with its 16 million pixel camera, are in and they look beautiful."

      No, that's not quite right either. How about:

      "The very first photos to be snapp

      • Is "very first" more first (firster?) than plain old "first"?

        If somebody beats me to first post, could I trump them with a very first post?

  • by Bootsy Collins (549938) on Monday July 23, 2012 @06:38PM (#40742961)
    It's not the fifth largest telescope in the United States. It's the fifth largest optical telescope in the continental United States. There are several larger optical telescopes on Mauna Kea, in Hawaii.
  • 16 Megapixles (Score:1, Interesting)

    So when I read this I was impressed until I read

    16 million pixel camera

    Why not just say a 16 megapixel camera? Is it just me or is a 16 megapixel camera not impressive.?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Astronomy and terrestrial photography have somewhat different requirements. The telescope sensor is probably huge, each active site has to be as large as possible to gather any stray photons. Typical cameras are APS-C sized or less... they're more interested in being 'fast' rather then 'sensitive'.

      • Even for astronomy imaging, 16 megapixels isn't so impressive for "the fifth largest scope in the US." There are many amateur astronomers across the country imaging with CCD cameras based on KAF 16803 chips (4096 x 4096 pixels). Open an issue of "sky and telescope" to the pages where they present a gallery of readers' images, and you're very likely to see something taken with a 16 megapixel camera. They're high end cameras from an amateur standpoint, no doubt about it, but not super special. Think about
        • by Rei (128717)

          Of course, it's all in the details, isn't it? At the very least, there's the question of how well cooled the sensor is to minimize heat noise, and beyond that, it could be something like an L3CCD, where you're literally counting every photon that hits the sensor. I have no idea what hardware they're actually using.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Astronomy and terrestrial photography have somewhat different requirements. The telescope sensor is probably huge, each active site has to be as large as possible to gather any stray photons. Typical cameras are APS-C sized or less...

        Correct. The LMI's CCD is 6144x6160 15um pixels (92.16 mm x 92.40 mm) ref [lowell.edu], or 8500 mm^2; this is over 20x APS-C, 10x full-frame 35mm, and 6x the 9um KAF-16803 (and its 12um sister KAF-9000) mentioned in a sibling post.

        For comparison, an APS-C sensor with the same size (15um pitch) pixels would be ~1650x1100; summing over nxn pixel bins to get a resolution in that vicinity from a higher-resolution APS-C CCD will be close, but somewhat less sensitive, as more pixels means less fill factor.

        they're more interested in being 'fast' rather then 'sensitive'.

        What?! You know fast

    • Once it's above a few megapixels I personally care way more about the optics.

      However in this specific case I wouldn't be surprised if this particular camera -- if it's even sensical to convert to ISO speeds -- is on the order of ISO 0.02441... (1000 times more light sensitive than ISO 25.)

    • Re:16 Megapixles (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mopomi (696055) on Monday July 23, 2012 @07:39PM (#40743549)

      First, the submitter got the value wrong. The Large Monolithic Imager (LMI) has 36 MPixels (technically, it has 6144x6160 = 37,847,040 pixels), not 16 MPixels.

      http://www.lowell.edu/dct_instruments.php [lowell.edu]

      Second, being a scientific instrument, it has a rather lot of requirements that your Nikon doesn't; the number of pixels is only one of several parameters engineers trade against each other when building a camera for scientific use.

      • Correct, 38 megapixels, still peanuts in the world of gigapixel astronomy cameras (Pan-Starrs, HyperSuprime-Cam, etc) but the deep-depletion E2V CCD is in a different class than an SLR CMOS senor and a lot of interesting things could be done with it. Sometimes an instrument is so expansive it precludes risky science but something this size could be used for a lot of interesting things. Especially interesting is that it's a single chip. Most CCDs that size are mosaics but this one is a single massive chip,
  • Your really have to LOOK to find something to watch on those channels, unless you like watching two guys pick through junk, a bunch of people trying to unload crap at a pawn shop, a bunch of guys saying "shoooot em". I might find 1 show a week that isn't a so called reality show. Yes, I know why they produce them, it's CHEAP, and apparently there are enough people that want to watch that junk. I use to tune into the HISTORY channel to learn about "old stuff". I hate how they changed their stupid tag line
  • According to the Discovery channel the telescope was funded by aliens looking to contact their home planet. Or am I mixing that up with the History Channel? In that case the sequels will be Housewives of Astronomers, Flip this Telescope, Telescope Road Truckers, Most Dangerous Telescopes in the World.

    Basically the Discovery Channel died when it ate TLC.
    • by paiute (550198)

      According to the Discovery channel the telescope was funded by aliens looking to contact their home planet. Or am I mixing that up with the History Channel? In that case the sequels will be Housewives of Astronomers, Flip this Telescope, Telescope Road Truckers, Most Dangerous Telescopes in the World.

      Hmmm. Have your agent set up a meeting. - Discovery Channel Development VP

  • The "full sized" images on their website make me rage a little. First off, for a 16 MP camera, they can do a little better than 0.5MP image on their website.

    Yea, it could have been scaled down, but that is a minor gripe compared to them publishing a telecope image as a HIGHLY COMPRESSED JPEG.

    Seriously? Most of the stars and gas clouds in that blasted image are lossy compression artifacts.

    Why couldn't we have a nicely sized PNG?
  • What is with the bright center spot? Is that just millions of stars packed way more densely than on the spiral arms?
  • That the word "Inaugural" caused me to think the telescope took pictures of the Presidential Inauguration.

    I eventually read enough to realize this is a newer telescope, which would have made photos of any presidential inauguration unlikely. But since we're talking about powerful telescopes, I guess even the time travel element wouldn't be out of the question.

  • Does a privately funded scientific facility produce better science than a public one? For one thing, if a "science news" conglomerate owns its own facility, won't it naturally be biased towards reporting on discoveries made by itself?
  • We will never see this telescope mentioned on the Discover Channel again unless it involves a reality show with a group of rednecks who auction off dates with B-list celebrities to go logging in the nearby national forest.

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. -- Francis Bacon

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