China’s “Magic Mirrors” to LAMOST’s flex-hex

Mirrors have been created for centuries to aid, inspire, and even distort human seeing. The next issue of Glimpse features historical “Chinese Magic Mirrors” whose manufacture and optics confounded 19th- and 20th-century European and American scientists for years. We will also look at the workings of China’s newly completed Large Sky Area Multiple-Object Fibre Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST), which promises to accelerate astronomers’ and astrophysicists’ discoveries. Thanks to its wide aperture, the unique flexible, hexagonal structure of its focusing mirrors, and the 4000 optical fibers transmitting light to the focusing plane, the telescope offers wider-field and more detailed imaging from the night sky than previously available in a single telescope. According to the LAMOST web site:

Its focal plane is 1.75m in diameter, corresponding to a 5° field of view, may accommodate as many as 4000 optical fibers. So the light from 4000 celestial objects will be led into a number of spectrographs simultaneously. Thus the telescope will be the one that possesses the highest spectrum acquiring rate in the world… LAMOST adopts the active optics technique both for thin mirror and segmented mirror on the Schmidt corrector MA, as well as the parallel controllable fiber positioning system. With these new concepts and design, LAMOST is expected to be a unique astronomical instrument in combining a large clear aperture and wide field of view. []


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