Large finite-element mathematical models are developed to calculate the deformations induced by the supports of a 4.2-m aperture 3.2-focal ratio primary mirror of an optical telescope. It is supported axially on three rings of pneumatic cylinders and radially by a system of transverse level weights, an arrangement only possible in a telescope that uses an altazimuth mounting. The stress distributions in the mirror when lifted by a central lifter and when resting on its axial flotation system are shown. A comparison is made between the results using classical flat-plate theory and the finite-element models.
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