The LBT Corp. has announced it will hold a series of events to mark the dedication of the world's most technologically advanced ground-based optical telescope. Dedication activities for the $120-million Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) will be held Oct. 13-15.
This scientific achievement will be highlighted by tours, an open house and other events showcasing Arizona's ground-breaking astronomy facilities. The Large Binocular Telescope is located on Mount Graham near Safford, Ariz. When fully operational in 2005, it will be the most technologically advanced ground-based telescope in the world. The LBT is unlike any other telescope because its twin 8.4-meter (27.6 ft.) "honeycombed" mirrors will sit on a single mount. The mirrors are much larger and lighter than conventional solid-glass mirrors and will collect more light than any existing telescope.
The telescope is also equipped with "adaptive optics," which corrects for atmospheric turbulence that distorts starlight and allows the telescope’s secondary mirrors to change shape to compensate for blurring in real time. This allows astronomers to see objects deeper into space than even the orbiting Hubble telescope.
Peter A. Strittmatter, president of the LBT Corp., said, "This is a momentous occasion for everyone involved in this ground-breaking endeavor to take space exploration to the next level. The LBT will provide us with an unparalleled view of our solar system and allow astronomers to gather light from billions of light years away. We are extremely excited by the possibilities presented by the LBT and relish the opportunity to welcome the world to Southern Arizona to showcase this telescope."
Jim Slagle, assistant project director of the LBT said, "Given the day-to-day challenges faced by the crew and other members of our team, this is truly a remarkable accomplishment for the University and its partners. Since we started construction on LBT eight years ago, a number of individuals from a variety of diverse backgrounds in Graham County, Ariz., Southern Arizona, Ohio, Italy and Germany came together and worked hard to make this a reality. This triumph belongs to all of them and is a tribute to what can be done when people come together."
For decades astronomers have gravitated to Southern Arizona for its clear, dark skies, arid climate and accessible high altitude. The region now has the world's highest concentration of observatories pointed at the universe. Arizona's leadership role in astronomy is further sustained by the existence of advanced educational opportunities, diversity of research associated with large optics, extensive observatory operations and, most importantly, the dynamic intellectual and economic interaction among each of these components.
The October dedication ceremonies will not only recognize the significant technological achievements of the LBT, but also celebrate Arizona's other pioneering astronomy facilities such as:
Mirror Lab: The University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory specializes in making giant, lightweight mirrors of unparalleled power for a new generation of optical and infrared telescopes. The Mirror Lab is located in a sprawling complex underneath the east wing of the University's football stadium. The Mirror Lab designed, cast and is polishing the LBT's twin primary mirrors to an accuracy 3,000 times thinner than a human hair. The Mirror Lab's work has made it a leader in the design of large optical lenses for space and ground-based observatories.
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) Phoenix Mars Lander – The University of Arizona has been at the forefront in the effort to map the red planet and played an integral part in NASA's 1997 Pathfinder mission. The UA’s LPL is the main contractor for NASA's Phoenix Scout mission to Mars. LPL will build Phoenix, a craft that will be launched in 2007 that for the first time will analyze Martian arctic soils for clues to the planet’s geologic history and potential for life.
6.5 MMT – The MMT is a collaboration of Arizona and the Smithsonian Institution and has been in operation since 1979. The MMT has proved to be a launching pad for LBT as it has allowed scientists to perfect adaptive optics and other technologies that have been used to double its light gathering power. Until LBT goes online, MMT will remain Arizona’s largest, most powerful telescope.
The LBT is managed by the LBT Corp., which was established in 1992 to undertake the construction and operation of the LBT. The corporation is a partnership that includes the University of Arizona, Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica of Italy, a German consortium of astronomical research institutes, The Ohio State University and the Research Corporation.
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