A Retractable Optical Camera for the MDM 2.4m Hiltner Telescope

Three-Color Image of NGC7714/15 (RETROCAM: 2004Aug25)


RETROCAM, the RETRactable Optical Camera for Monitoring, is mounted on the side port of the Multiple Instrument System (MIS) at the f/7.5 Cassegrain focus of the MDM 2.4m Hiltner Telescope.  It employs a retractable pick-off mirror that can be inserted into the telescope beam in front of the primary instrument.  Because of its location in the MIS, it is available for use with any of the observatory’s primary instruments excepting the eye-piece, which does not use the MIS.

A detailed description of RETROCAM can be found in this paper:

RETROCAM:  A Versatile Optical Imager for Synoptic Studies”, Morgan, C.W. et al., 2005, AJ, 129, 2504 (632k PDF)

User’s Guide

A “quick-reference style” set of instructions for RETROCAM:

   RETROCAM User's Guide (207k PDF)

    Version 2.2 - updated 2017Dec07

RETROCAM v2 has updated features, including  working TCS interface (including remote focus, mirror, and guide probe x,y position setting), and a simple scripting facility described by the document below.

    RETROCAM Command Scripts (621k PDF)

    Updated 2006Dec18 (new commands)


    Camera:  Apogee Alta E55

    CCD:  E2V CCD 55-20 (1152x770 22.5µm pixels)

    Dark Current: 2.5 e/sec/pixel @ -20ºC

    Gain: 3.0 e-/ADU

    Pixel Scale: 0.259 arcsec/pixel

    Readout Noise: 13.4 e/pixel

    Readout Time: 6 seconds

    Cooling: 3-stage thermoelectric (-20ºC below ambient)

    Field-of-View: 4.97 x 3.32 arcmin

    Filters: SDSS g, r, i & z + 1 open position


RETROCAM was designed and built by Chris Morgan to monitor gravitationally lensed quasers.  That project is ongoing.

Observing instructions for the quasar monitoring project:

    RETROCAM Lensed Quasar Observing Instructions (95k PDF)