UCSC Currents online

Front Page

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.

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