Welcome to the website of the AIP Summer School 2011


  • 07-07-2011: Photos made during the school are available in the photo gallery (see the link also in the menu).
  • 04-07-2011: Some presentations from the summer school are available for download in various formats. The documents are linked on the program page next to the lectures. The links are protected and the necessary username and password will be sent to the participants by email.

The Astrophysical Institute Potsdam (AIP) is pleased to announce the First International Summer School on "Opto-mechanical Design in Astronomy", which will be held on Babelsberg campus. The exercises will take place in the the Media and Communication Center (MCC) building, while the actual lectures will be given in the Schwarzschildhaus (SH).

MCC and SH from outside
The building of the Media and Communication Center (left) and the Schwarzschildhaus (right).

The scope of the Summer School "Opto-mechanical Design in Astronomy" is to learn about opto-mechanical designs of optical-IR and radio telescopes based on fundamental knowledge of mechanical, optical and thermal processes. In particular we plan to employ existing multi-national large projects like the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), and the 64m Sardinia Radio Telescope (SRT) as examples for real engineering applications. The student will become familiar with computer-aided methods of finite element analysis, Zemax optical ray tracing, computational fluid dynamics and thermal analysis. The school will be held at the Babelsberg campus of the AIP in Potsdam and will be open to an international auditorium. We have seven lecturers and up to six specific experts. The number of attendees is limited to 30 students.

Main topics of the School are the following:

  • Large Structures in Astro-Engineering
  • Thermal and Fluid-Dynamic Analysis
  • Optical Design of Large Telescopes
  • Work with Modern Design Tools

Large ground-based optical telescopes between 30m and 50m in diameter, i.e. substantially larger than any currently operating facility, are desired by astronomers mainly because of the urgent need of spectroscopic support for future space facilities, such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Instruments on-board JWST will reach brightness magnitudes that require much larger collecting areas to perform spectroscopic follow-up than any telescope currently operating. Even today the "Advanced Camera for Surveys" on the Hubble Space Telescope has already produced images of a depth far exceeding the ability of current 10m-class telescopes.

Apart from space facility follow-ups, ELTs will be breakthrough astronomical facilities in their own right, able to tackle problems such as the nature of first-light objects and the detection and characterization of extrasolar planets, possibly down to terrestrial sizes. The extreme f/ratios of ELTs, which are required for instruments operating well away from the telescope diffraction limit, raise the issue of weight and pushes precision mechanical designing to its limits. Traditional structural components become invariably massive for their size. At this stage, experience from radio-telescope builders becomes important for optical telescope builders. An exchange of tools is essential if we do not want to re-resolve some of the pressing problems. Educating our students in this way appears to be the most effective way for a successful future. Therefore, clever engineers with astronomical background are mandatory for the realization and practical use of these upcoming giants.

A symposium with related topics will take place at Lund University, in Sweden, on August 15-17. More details are available here: http://www.astro.lu.se/~torben/im-symposium/.

Summer School 2011 AIP poster
The poster for the summer school. Click the image to get it in pdf format (~4MB).

web design: J. Bartus, I. Di Varano, AIP, page last modified: 07-07-2011, J. Bartus