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Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 A Brief History of the Astrophysical Research Consortium and the Apache Point Observatory.

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Presentation on theme: "Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 A Brief History of the Astrophysical Research Consortium and the Apache Point Observatory."— Presentation transcript:

1 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 A Brief History of the Astrophysical Research Consortium and the Apache Point Observatory By Jim Peterson Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, Vol. 9, No. 1, p (2006) by Jim Peterson and Glen Mackie

2 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 Introduction By the 1950’s in USA biggest and best astronomy tools were owned by a handful of universities NSF funded the AURA national telescopes By 1980 access to the best telescopes was severely constrained Astronomy departments were challenged to develop their programs, attract talent and grants, and conduct long-term research Several universities joined together to form ARC and build APO

3 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 The APO in 2000

4 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 The Long Path to an Observatory University of Washington –Started astronomy program in 1965 –Planned to build large telescope, but couldn’t raise money –In the meantime became a heavy user of Kitt Peak –Started looking for partners Washington State University –Joined to increase political/funding base in Washington State

5 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 The Long Path to an Observatory (continued) New Mexico State University –In 1979 had 6 faculty members including Clyde Trombaugh –Heavy user of Kitt Peak –Had been researching sites –Realized they needed a partner Howard University –Started a graduate program in late 1970’s –Funded by Congress, so hoped for a large grant for the project

6 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 The Long Path to an Observatory (continued) By 1982 developed an initial design based on the Kitt Peak Advanced Development Program and radio telescopes –Fast, 2-meter mirror with tube structure –Alt-Az mount with instruments housed at points on the mount –Smaller enclosure, less costly, less noise –Found site in Sunspot, NM University presidents committed to project Champagne was ready Congress didn’t even get to consider Howard’s request

7 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 The Long Path to an Observatory (continued) Princeton University –In late 1970’s had submitted a proposal to manage the HST –$1 million donation supported proposal –It was rejected –UW made an offer The University of Chicago –Long tradition in astronomy –Yerkes Observatory –Making instruments to trade for time –Dr Rice suggests a telescope project

8 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 Formation of the ARC Agreement signed January 26, 1984 Time allocation based on contribution Dismal success fundraising The NSF Proposal –Submitted the proposal on May 15, 1984 –$3.74 million granted in a time of budget cutbacks –Granted on July 11, 1986

9 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 Project Expenses and Sources of Fund in 1984 Expenses $8.8 Million $1.2 MillionFaculty costs for which member institutions are not charging overhead Total$10 Million Revenues $3.2 MillionProvided by ARC using non-federal funds $1.2 MillionFrom member institutions $5.6 MillionRequested from NSF Total$10 Million

10 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 The APO Design Institutional Goals –Abundant time for faculty and students –Enable long-term research –Build strong astronomy departments by attracting talent and money –World-class facility with a competitively sized aperture

11 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 The APO Design (continued) Telescope goals –General purpose design to accommodate a variety of uses –Remote operation –Rapid instrument change –Flexible scheduling

12 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest Concept Drawing

13 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 The APO Design (continued) 3.5 meter, f/1.75, lightweight mirror Spin-cast mirror from Roger Angel at Stewart Observatory Mirror Lab The telescope followed early design of tube structure on an alt-az mount Secondary mirror gives final focal length of f/10, but can be replaced by longer secondary giving f/35 for infrared observing Flat tertiary mirror can be pointed to instruments already mounted and available Telescope design allowed for an overall smaller, barn- like enclosure

14 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 Cutaway Drawing

15 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 Size Comparison – Mayall 4-Meter and ARC 3.5-Meter

16 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 Building the Apache Point Observatory Funding delay –NSF funds almost 2 years later than expected –Started in 1985 using institutional funds Design work completed by May 1985 The telescope, enclosure, site and support buildings completed by November, 1987 ARC occupied the site beginning January, 1988

17 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 The Enclosure Under Construction

18 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 The Mirror Delay First light scheduled for 1987 New technology funded by NSF to eventually make 8 meter mirrors Finally delivered the mirror in August, 1988 The expected 18 months of polishing took until August, 1992 ARC borrowed a 1.8 meter mirror from the University of Calgary

19 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 Fresh out of the oven June 7, 1988

20 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 Frustration Over?

21 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 Dedication Completed Mirror delivered in January 1994 First light happened on April 5, 1994 The dedication was held May 10, 1994 during a rare annular solar eclipse that passed directly over APO

22 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 The ARC 3.5 Meter

23 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 Celebrating Success SDSS is another successful ARC project ARC serves goals of member departments Remote observing, rapid instrument change and flexible scheduling make this an easily shared resource by faculty and students Key scientific results: –Prediction and observation of gravitational lens time delay –Observation of first field methane brown dwarf –Observation of high redshift QSO’s, which led to the detection of the Gunn-Peterson Trough

24 Jim Peterson October 13, 2007Swinburne Astronomy Online AstroFest 2007 Publishing this paper Lucky break Access to source documents Interviews with key people Support from Glen Formatting challenges Editing Finally published For a copy


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