© Jens Hackmann

Closer to the stars

Amateur and profes­sional astronomers explore the night sky at the Weik­er­sheim obser­va­tory. A new tele­scope gives them a clear view – with three fans from ebm-papst.


When Rainer Zier­lein, director of the Weik­er­sheim obser­va­tory, is asked what is so fasci­nating about looking at the sky in these days of multi­media, he draws a simple compar­ison: “When you look at pictures or go to a plan­e­tarium, that’s like listening to a recorded concert at home. When you go to the obser­va­tory, you expe­ri­ence the concert live.”

The club he chairs, Astronomische Vere­ini­gung Weik­er­sheim e.V., runs the obser­va­tory that makes this expe­ri­ence acces­sible to its members and the public. Once a month, inter­ested people can drop by without an appoint­ment and look at the stars there. Groups and school classes of all ages can tour the heavens by appoint­ment.

Time for a new tele­scope

Many of the visi­tors look directly into the sky, but there are a few passionate astropho­tog­ra­phers among the club members. Some of them spend entire nights photographing special astro­nom­ical objects and events, combining multiple expo­sures to create impres­sive pictures. For all stargazers, the quality of the tele­scopes they use is key to the quality of the expe­ri­ences they have.

Since the previous tele­scope was increas­ingly unable to meet expec­ta­tions, the obser­va­tory began to look for a replace­ment. “A tip brought an EU funding program to our atten­tion,” says Zier­lein. “That enabled us to get a much higher-quality tele­scope than would have other­wise been possible with our club’s budget.”

“We sell our tele­scopes world­wide, including places such as Tibet, Kaza­khstan or the Australian Outback.”

Wolfram Felber, General manager Alluna Optics

They decided on a reflecting tele­scope from Alluna Optics. The company relies on a network of expe­ri­enced special­ists who build custom tele­scopes for a wide range of uses. General manager Wolfram Felber says, “Exper­tise plays an extremely impor­tant role in our field. We have a dedi­cated expert for every part, from the basic design to the optics and the mirrors.”

Three fans from ebm-papst are also crucial to a clear view of the night sky. They are mounted directly behind the telescope’s main mirror, where they cool the mirror down to the ambient temper­a­ture before the tele­scope is put to use. In addi­tion, their contin­uous air flow during use prevents distor­tions in the air when heat rises from the mirror.

Improved viewing thanks to compact fans

Wolfram Felber’s deci­sion in favor of ebm-papst fans was mainly due to their quality and long service life. “We sell our tele­scopes world­wide, including places such as Tibet, Kaza­khstan or the Australian Outback. Reli­a­bility is extremely impor­tant there, because customers don’t want to wait two weeks for a replace­ment filter.”

Star poten­tial due to the new tele­scope: the Weik­er­sheim obser­va­tory (Photo | Jens Hack­mann)

In addi­tion to rugged­ness, high perfor­mance in a small package is another advan­tage of the ebm-papst prod­ucts. Felber says, “There isn’t much room in a tele­scope since there are other compo­nents that need to be accom­mo­dated. But the compact fans still manage to cool the mirror down quickly even on hot days.”

Rainer Zier­lein is very satis­fied with the tele­scope, saying “Both our visi­tors and our astropho­tog­ra­phers have a clearer view of the sky.” When he discov­ered the ebm-papst fans in the tele­scope, he was espe­cially pleased: In his day job, the obser­va­tory director is a depart­ment head at ebm-papst in Mulfingen.

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