Otto Struve Telescope

The Otto Struve Telescope was the first major telescope to be built at McDonald Observatory. Located in the Davis Mountains in West Texas, the Otto Struve Telescope was designed by Warner & Swasey Company and constructed between 1933 and 1939 by the Paterson-Leitch Company. Its 82-inch (2.1 m) mirror was the second largest in the world at the time.[note 1] It was named after the Russian-American astronomer Otto Struve in 1966, three years after his death; Struve had been the director of McDonald Observatory from 1932–1950.

Otto Struve Telescope
Otto Struve Telescope.jpg
The Otto Struve Telescope
Part ofMcDonald Observatory Edit this on Wikidata
Location(s)Jeff Davis County, Texas
Coordinates30°40′47″N 104°01′29″W / 30.679709°N 104.024823°W / 30.679709; -104.024823Coordinates: 30°40′47″N 104°01′29″W / 30.679709°N 104.024823°W / 30.679709; -104.024823 Edit this at Wikidata
Built1933–1939 (1933–1939) Edit this at Wikidata
Telescope styleoptical telescope Edit this on Wikidata
Diameter82 in (2.1 m) Edit this at Wikidata Edit this at Wikidata
Otto Struve Telescope is located in the United States
Otto Struve Telescope
Location of Otto Struve Telescope
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The telescope's dome

The Davis Mountains is an excellent location for astronomical research because of the clear dry air and moderately high elevation. The remote nature of the facility proved to be a significant challenge in transporting such a large mirror. It was a very precarious journey for the Otto Struve Telescope's mirror to this remote part of Texas and up to the top of Mount Locke. The mirror was transported from the local town of Fort Davis up the mountain by Carleton D. Wilson, owner of a local trucking company, while locals cheered as they looked on.[1]

The Otto Struve telescope is still in use today. It is updated with modern imaging detectors allowing astronomers to conduct many types of research.

Noted applications and DiscoveriesEdit

The telescope was one of two used to set up and define the Johnson-Morgan UBV photometric system.

In 1949, G. Kuiper of Yerkes Observatory discovered a new moon of planet Neptune, named Nereid.[2] The moon was discovered on photographic plates taken in a search for moons of Neptune.[2]

Contemporaries on commissioningEdit

The Otto Struve telescope saw first light in 1939, behind the 100-inch Hooker telescope and ahead of two large British Commonwealth telescopes, both in Canada. Many competing projects were delayed due to the war in the early 1940s.

Four largest telescopes in 1939:

# Name / observatory Image Aperture Altitude First light Special advocate
1 Hooker Telescope
Mount Wilson Obs.
  100 inch
254 cm
1742 m
(5715 ft)
1917 George Ellery Hale
Andrew Carnegie
2 Otto Struve Telescope
McDonald Obs.
  82 inch
208 cm
2070 m
(6791 ft)
1939 Otto Struve
3 David Dunlap Observatory   74 inch
188 cm
224 m
(735 ft)
1935 Clarence Chant
4 Plaskett telescope
Dominion Astrophysical Obs.
  72 inch
182 cm
230 m
(755 ft)
1918 John S. Plaskett

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ It was second only to the Mt. Wilson 100-inch (2.5 m) telescope.


  1. ^ The Film & Video Archive of the McDonald Observatory. "Telescope Mirror and Dedication Rodeo (1939)". Texas Archive of the Moving Image.
  2. ^ a b Kuiper, G. P. (August 1949). "The Second Satellite of Neptune". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 61 (361): 175–176. Bibcode:1949PASP...61..175K. doi:10.1086/126166.

External linksEdit