Tolerancing and alignment of a three-mirror off-axis telescope

Anna Britt Mahler, Russell Chipman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


When the optical elements of a system are not collinear, there are advantages to aligning all elements simultaneously. This paper presents the steps taken to prepare for system alignment and the alignment plan for such a system. A tolerance analysis of the system defines the compensators necessary for system alignment and allows an estimate of the expected magnitude of initial aberrations present in the system. Polarization and pupil aberrations are characterized in order to further understand expected system aberrations before alignment. A two step alignment plan is outlined. First, a CCD array placed at the focal plane indicates spot size and shape as elements are aligned. Once spot size is minimized, the CCD array is replaced by a ball bearing for retroreflection. Useful interferograms can be obtained with which remaining aberrations can be minimized. This technique is presented as the alignment plan for an off-axis telescope system consisting of one spherical and two ellipsoidal mirrors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOptical System Alignment and Tolerancing
StatePublished - 2007
EventOptical System Alignment and Tolerancing - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 26 2007Aug 27 2007

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherOptical System Alignment and Tolerancing
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Alignment procedure
  • Ball bearing
  • CCD array
  • Off-axis telescope
  • Tolerancing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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