Professional Astronomy Innovation with PlaneWave Instruments

Purpose: Ralph Emerson from Planewave Instruments joins our hosts this week to talk about the many advances coming to astronomy, largely headed by his own colossal company.

Ralph Emerson:Director of Marketing at Planewave Instruments, Ralph has overseen the unbelievable rise of this company from the beginning.

This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • About the meteoric rise of Planewave Instruments
  • The specs of Planewave’s innovative designs
  • What exciting developments are still on the way
  • Why now is perfect for getting into astronomy

Notable Quotes:

“We’re not a marketing company, we’re a telescope company.”

“Our customer base is looking for high quality.”

“Advanced research is now available to smaller schools, down to the high school level.”

Main Topics:

4:20 -Planewave’s Explosive Growth

With most of the founding employees coming from Celestron and the necessary mass-production practices of that company, founding Planewave was about creating telescopes for the higher end, specialized astronomers. Amateur astronomers who want to get real serious need something with a real serious aperture and weight to it. Coordinated with keen strategy and clear vision, Planewave is paving the way into high-grade amateur astronomy.

10:32 -The Corrected Dall-Kirkham Design

A unique innovation brought about by Planewave, the Corrected Dall-Kirkham is easier to operate as a user with fewer alignment issues and easier to manufacture at the same time. When designing a telescope, this company completes a design and then rethinks it over and over again until primed for optimal manufacturing. Only then is the product tested continuously until deemed a perfected model.

20:36 -Constant Innovations - The L Mount

Ralph and the Planewave team looked at mounts currently available and thought about joining the standard assortment, but when diving deeper into design found too many limitations with current iterations. Deciding to bring about their own design, Planewave has created a mount compatible with any OTA and to critical praise across the board. Their direct drive L Series mount exploded in popularity immediately.

31:05 -Providing for the Professional Market

With high-grade products comes a high demand from an underserved market. After designing these top-tier products and even being projected to sell no more than a couple a year, demand has exploded and Planewave is expanding their manufacturing to meet it. What would have cost millions less than a decade ago is now much less than a single million, and professional institutions are lining up to get their meter-grade scopes.

40:37 -Planewave Telescopes Enabling New Sciences

These telescopes are being used for researching exoplanets in other solar systems and galaxies, and even areas outside of astronomy are utilizing these scopes. Satellite tracking, laser data downloading, and space telescopes are all being propelled forward with assistance from Planewave. Systems like the Hubble Space Telescope are projected for the future using these telescopes as well including, of course, the SpaceFab telescope system previously featured on this podcast.

52:04 -The Rapidly Growing Astronomy Industry

With all of the changes coming and already implemented thus far, both professional and amateur astronomy practices are making huge strides in both accessibility and capability. One of the greatest boons of these advances is the ability for those involved with Citizen Science initiatives to get top-grade equipment. This allows any citizen to participate at an equal level in science that truly advances our civilization.

Like what you listened to? Hate what you’ve heard? Let us know in the comments below!

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