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MMT Observing Schedule: January - April

The observing schedule for January - April 2019 can be found here.

UPDATE Km 18.5 Road Stabilization Project

Phase II of the road stabilization project is underway with major interruptions. Heavy machinery is being used while they repair and pour concrete on the road. All vehicular traffic is unable to cross until further notice. Coordination with staff is required prior to going up the mountain. If you are an observer, please contact Susan Wahl to arrange transportation or make special arrangements during the road construction.

Smithsonian Lecture Series on Astronomy - 2019

Join us for the 49th year of this lecture series held on Wednesday mornings at the Green Valley Recreation Center at 9:00AM. Each lecture is 45 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer period. All lectures are free and open to the public. Click here for the dates and the list of speakers and their topics. We hope to see you there!

Aging a Flock of Stars in the Wild Duck Cluster

Do star clusters harbor many generations of stars or just one? Scientists have long searched for an answer and, thanks to the MMT and its Hectochelle instrument, found one in the Wild Duck Cluster, where stars spin at different speeds, disguising their common age. The UA news story can be read here.

MMT Observing Schedule - August-December

The observing schedule for August-December can be found here.

Km 18.5 Road Stabilization Project

There is currently road work leading to the summit at Km 18.5. During Phase 1, the goal is to keep the road open with minor interruptions. There will be restricted access to cars. There are currently 2 windows per day that allow vehicles to pass through. The first is at 8:45-9:15AM with another at 3:50-4:20PM. Work begins at 6AM and continues to 6PM. Due to these closures, it is our preference that you plan for remote observing. Coming up to the mountain is still possible if you feel you must be there, but please expect the road to be closed at the time you might normally want to come down from the summit. Please also expect that it may not be an easy drive in the construction area. Phase II will begin in November and will have major interruptions.

Successful Summer Shutdown

On August 15th, the MMT returned to normal operations after a three-week summer shutdown. Some of the scheduled work completed during this period included: wet washing the primary mirror, removing the decommissioned laser guide star system from the telescope, and replacing the electrical connectors on the telescope encoder power supply. Since the tasks were successfully completed on time and the opportunity was available, the 40-lead DIP resolver-to-digital converters for the azimuth axis were replaced with specially packaged 44-terminal LCC units. This was completed to increase the inventory of potential spare for this critical telescope component.

Update on Tours

Due to scheduled road construction leading to the MMTO, no tours are currently scheduled. Tours will resume towards the end of the year. Please check back here for updates!

Successful Shutter Seal Replacement

In preparation for the shutter seal replacement, the Blue Channel instrument and the f/9 secondary mirror were removed on June 18th and the telescope was parked horizon pointing and covered with a tarp. Kappcon, Inc. then began the process of replacing the EPDM material used to seal the two MMTO shutter halves when closed. The horizontal seal section was replaced using a custom access platform borrowed from the LBT Observatory (as seen in the image here). The vertical seal section was replaced using a rented boom lift. This work was completed on June 26th, and after completing other maintenance tasks, the telescope was returned to normal nighttime operation on June 30th.

Observatory Improvements

The observatory will be closed June 18 through July 1 for shutter seal replacement. As part of the new heated roof contract, the p-seal and flapper seal used to seal the gap between the two shutter halves when in the closed position will be replaced. This work was scheduled to take place before the start of the monsoon season. Regular shutdown will be July 24-August 13 during which various maintenance tasks are scheduled.