Equatorial Pier Angle = 33.59°

N 33° 34' 31.1977"
W 81° 46' 11.7431"


USGS Marker at Sundial

N 33° 34' 29.14440"
W 81° 46' 10.73198"


RPSEC Observatory:

Picture of the Observatory

Bechtel Telescope:

Picture of the current telescope in the Observatory

Ruth Patrick Science Education Center Observatory

The Bechtel Telescope

The Ruth Patrick Science Education Center (RPSEC) Observatory is on the roof of the RPSEC on the campus of the University of South Carolina Aiken. The observatory building was manufactured by Observadome in Jackson, Mississippi. It is five meters in diameter and has a rotating domed roof. The RPSEC Observatory houses the Bechtel Telescope. Bechtel Savannah River Inc. and the Bechtel Foundation donated $30,000 to purchase the telescope for the RPSEC Observatory. Because of this generosity, the telescope now bears the company's name. On June 18, 2009, The RPSEC Observatory was struck by lightning and the Bechtel Telescope was damaged beyond repair. Through generosity of the company and support from insurance, a new Bechtel Telescope was purchased and installed in May 2010.

Weather permitting, the RPSEC housing the Bechtel Telescope, will be open for viewing after each public show.

Bechtel Telescope Specs

Picture of the control panel for the telescope

The Bechtel Telescope is a 16 inch, Meade LX-200GPS, Schmidt-Cassegrain, catadiaptric telescope. What does all of that mean?

  • The telescope's main mirror is 16 inches in diameter.
  • Meade is the name of the company that manufactured the telescope. LX-200 represents the specific type of telescope the company manufactures. Meade also makes LX-200 scopes that are 8", 12" and 14" in diameter.
  • Schmidt-Cassegrain and catadioptric refer to how light is gathered. This type of scope uses mirrors and lenses to form the images. (See below for telescope comparisons)

There is a good description of how telescopes work at Meade Instruments Corporation. This page has some diagrams to help explain how the telescopes work.

Telescope Light Gathering Comparison

Main light gathering source is a mirror
Main light gathering source is a lens
Uses both mirrors and lenses to gather light