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Proceedings Paper

Toward first light for the 6.5-m MMT Telescope
Author(s): Steve C. West; Shawn P. Callahan; Frederic H. Chaffee; Warren B. Davison; Scott T. DeRigne; Daniel G. Fabricant; Craig B. Foltz; John M. Hill; Robert H. Nagel; Anthony D. Poyner; Joseph T. Williams
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Paper Abstract

Operated by the Multiple Mirror Telescope Observatory (MMTO), the multiple mirror telescope (MMT) is funded jointly by the Smithsonian Institution (SAO) and the University of Arizona (UA). The two organizations equally share observing time on the telescope. The MMT was dedicated in May 1979, and is located on the summit of Mt. Hopkins (at an altitude of 2.6 km), 64 km south of Tucson, Arizona, at the Smithsonian Institution's Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO). As a result of advances in the technology at the Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory for the casting of large and fast borosilicate honeycomb astronomical primary mirrors, in 1987 it was decided to convert the MMT from its six 1.8 m mirror array (effective aperture of 4.5 m) to a single 6.5 m diameter primary mirror telescope. This conversion will more than double the light gathering capacity, and will by design, increase the angular field of view by a factor of 15. Because the site is already developed and the existing building and mount will be used with some modification, the conversion will be accomplished for only about $20 million. During 1995, several major technical milestones were reached: (1) the existing building was modified, (2) the major steel telescope structures were fabricated, and (3) the mirror blank was diamond wheel ground (generated). All major mechanical hardware required to affect the conversion is now nearly in hand. Once the primary mirror is polished and lab-tested on its support system, the six-mirror MMT will be taken out of service and the conversion process begun. We anticipate that a 6 - 12 month period will be required to rebuild the telescope, install its optics and achieve f/9 first light, now projected to occur in early 1998. The f/5.4 and f/15 implementation will then follow. We provide a qualitative and brief update of project progress.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 March 1997
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 2871, Optical Telescopes of Today and Tomorrow, (21 March 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.269080
Show Author Affiliations
Steve C. West, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Shawn P. Callahan, Multiple Mirror Telescope Observatory/Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Frederic H. Chaffee, Multiple Mirror Telescope Observatory/Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Warren B. Davison, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Scott T. DeRigne, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Daniel G. Fabricant, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (United States)
Craig B. Foltz, Multiple Mirror Telescope Observatory/Univ. of Arizona (United States)
John M. Hill, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Robert H. Nagel, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Anthony D. Poyner, Multiple Mirror Telescope Observatory/Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Joseph T. Williams, Multiple Mirror Telescope Observatory/Univ. of Arizona (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2871:
Optical Telescopes of Today and Tomorrow

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