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  • Ohio State Seeks Role in Two Major Observatories

Photonics Spectra
Nov 1996
Charles T. Troy

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State University is seeking a partnership role in two major observatories, one of which will house the world's largest telescope on a single mount.

The university would buy a one-eighth share in the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) being built on Mount Graham in southern Arizona, and become a partner in the Michigan-Dartmouth-MIT (MDM) Observatory at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, also in Arizona. The deal would give Ohio State faculty and students access to three modern telescopes.

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The LBT is a continuation of an earlier partnership, the Columbus Project, from which Ohio State withdrew in 1991 for financial reasons, while retaining a small share in the project. The telescope will have two 8.4-m primary mirrors, functioning as an 11.8-m telescope. Once completed, it will have 24 times the light-gathering power of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Current partners in the LBT Corp. are the University of Arizona, the Research Corp. and a group of astronomical institutes from Italy. A group of German scientific institutions is negotiating to join the project as well. With Ohio State and the German institutions on board, the project will be fully subscribed.

Survey and discovery applications

The MDM deal would give the university access to two additional telescopes, one 2.4-m capable of producing high resolution images, and one 1.3-m. Ohio State astronomers plan to use the instruments primarily for survey and discovery research, some of which will then be investigated further using the LBT.

The combined cost to Ohio State for joining these projects is $7.7 million, to be paid over a five-year period.

About $6.4 million is slated for the LBT. Of that, $4 million will be paid in cash and $2.4 million will be a "value-added" contribution. The university will provide $3.2 million to the LBT Corp. for construction of the telescope and $800,000 to the Ohio State astronomy department's Imaging Sciences Laboratory, which will design and construct instrumentation for the LBT valued at $3.2 million.

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