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Construction at the MMT

Construction began on January 11, 2010 on an Instrument Repair Facility at the MMT summit.  It is scheduled to be completed by summer.  Construction is taking place during the weekdays between 8:00am – 5:00pm.  There are no plans for work to be done on weekends.  The construction site is cordoned off with cones or is within a chained-off area. 

MMT December Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing               90.0
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering            10.0
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr change       0.0

MMTO is looking for an Adaptive Optics Scientist/Engineer

The MMT Observatory (MMTO), a joint venture of the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Arizona, is seeking a Scientist or Engineer with working knowledge of astronomical adaptive optics to join the MMT team. The MMTO operates a 6.5-meter telescope at the summit of Mt. Hopkins (elevation 8550 feet), some 40 miles south of Tucson in southern Arizona. Additional details regarding the telescope and associated instrumentation may be found via the web site: http://www.mmto.org.

Research Using the MMT in the News

From observations made using the MMT, Dr. E. Mamajek of the University of Rochester has discovered that the first known binary star is actually a sextuplet system.   To read the article published by Science Daily, press here.

MMT November Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing             93.4
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering            6.6
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr change    0.0

MMT October Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing           100.0
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering           0.0
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr change    0.0
Percentage of time lost to weather                         37.5

The New Red Channel Detector

The installation and testing of a new detector for Red Channel has been completed by the UofA’s Imaging Technology Laboratory (ITL). The new device has 15-micron pixels and a format of 520 x 1032 pixels (spatial x dispersion). The read noise of the detector is 3.5 electrons. The measure QE for the detector is provided below. ITL’s web page ( http://uao.itl.arizona.edu) provides additional details and information.

MMT Red Channel CCD Quantum EfficiencyMMT Red Channel CCD Quantum Efficiency

MMT September Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing             96.7
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering            3.3
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr change     0.0

LCROSS: It all comes down to tonight...

After being involved in the LCROSS project and preparation for the ground based observations from the MMT over the last 18 months it has all come down to tonight. We have one shot at getting these observations so the nerves are running a little high in the control room!

In the last 10 minutes we have had confirmation from NASA that the centaur and payload (ie. the two halves of the rocket – the centaur will crash into the moon first with the payload carrying the instruments crashing in 4 minutes later) have separated successfully.

Countdown continues...

At 1.31am (MST) NASA will count down to T-3 hours mark for the centaur impact. We are busily working away making sure we have all our cameras aligned (we are using 4 different camera’s for different purposes tonight!), we are collecting calibration data that is vital for our science results, making sure our data reduction software works and staying in communication with NASA and all the other telescopes that are observing the event.