September 20, 2001
Campus's remote observing facility enabled a team
of astronomers to work around aircraft grounding
In a bright example of how the campus is helping others cope with the current
crisis, Bob Kibrick, a research astronomer with the UCO/Lick Observatory, reports
that the campus's remote observing facility in Natural Sciences 2 enabled a team
of astronomers to carry out their research with the Keck telescopes in Hawaii.
During the recent grounding of commercial aircraft in the wake of the September 11
attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., astronomers in California were unable to
get flights to Hawaii, where they were scheduled to conduct observations at the Keck
Telescope facility in Waimea.
Fortunately, the remote observing facility at UCSC allowed them to move ahead with
their work despite the ban on air travel.
On September 13, a team of astronomers from Caltech drove from Pasadena to Santa
Cruz and spent the next five nights operating the Keck-1 Telescope and its low resolution
imaging spectrograph (LRIS) using UCSC's facility.
Kibrick was pleased to report that the networks and software worked exactly as intended,
and the Caltech astronomers were able to conduct just as many observations from Santa
Cruz as they would have had they been able to get to Hawaii.
The twin Keck Telescopes, each with a primary mirror 10 meters in diameter, are the
largest optical and infrared telescopes in the world, and coveted observation times
are scheduled well into the future.
For more information on the remote observing facility, visit Currents Online at http://www.ucsc.edu/currents/99-00/06-05/kecks.html.