In this paper we describe our experiences with film copies of original astronomical photographs taken with the 1.2-meter U.K. Schmidt Telescope (UKST) in Australia, and used as teaching material in the Department of Astronomy of the University of Edinburgh. Two packages are intended for undergraduate use; the Education Packages are designed as visual aids for colleges, schools, and amateur groups.
The original purpose of the telescope (which was commissioned in 1973) was to carry out a Southern Sky Survey to match the Northern Survey done by the Palomar 48” Schmidt Telescope. The telescope has a very wide field — 6.5 × 6.5 degrees, or equivalent to over a hundred and fifty full moons, and the photographs reach objects of 23rd magnitude: they record stars like the Sun to the very edges of the Galaxy and galaxies to a thousand million light years. Each photograph has an area of 356 × 356 mm and records between 100,000 and 1 million stars and galaxies. The survey photographs are the deepest available maps of the sky and are indispensable tools for astronomers in searches for unusual objects, for investigation of the distribution of galaxies and many other tasks. The UKST is equipped with objective prisms that are capable of producing low dispersion spectra of stars and galaxies. A prism of very small angle is placed in front of the aperture of the telescope so that each individual image is drawn out into a tiny spectrum on the photograph. The dispersion is very small, only a few millimeters from the red to the ultraviolet, but the dominant features in the spectra are recognizable and have many applications.