Because of such erroneous stories, the director of the observatory, Dr. Harlan J. Smith… McDonald Observatory's new director, Harlan J. Smith, saw an opportunity. The 2.7-meter (107-inch) Harlan J. Smith Telescope at the University of Texas McDonald Observatory. However, most astronomical telescopes do in fact have holes in the middle of the primary mirror, as it allows you to attach instruments to the bottom of the telescope (the Cassegrain focus). He convinced NASA to build one of those new telescopes at McDonald. The Harlan J. Smith Telescope The early 1960s saw the emergence of the Space Age, and NASA needed large new telescopes to survey the planets before spacecraft could be dispatched to study them. The 107" Harlan J Smith telescope dome rotating at the McDonald Observatory at sunset. in detail.

Photo by Marty Harris/McDonald Observatory Harlan J. Smith Telescope reflecting telescope at McDonald Observatory, Texas Relatively cheap, mass-produced ~2 meter telescopes have recently been developed and have made a significant impact on astronomy research.