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Foundation Donates $600K to Fund APF Spectrometer

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A foundation established by KLA Instruments (now KLA-Tencor) founder Kenneth Levy and his wife, Gloria, has given $600,000 to fund the spectrometer part of the Automated Planet Finder (APF) telescope now being built at the University of California's Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton. The spectrometer, designed by University of California, Santa Cruz, astronomy and astrophysics professor Steven Vogt, will be named for the Levys. The APF is scheduled for first light in May, and will use its 8-ft primary mirror and spectrometer to search for an Earth-sized planet in another solar system. "We're looking for shifts in the spectrum on the focal plane of the spectrometer that are on the order of a thousandth of a pixel. And we have to be able to find those shifts and track them from year to year, summer to winter, spring to fall. The shifts we're looking for amount to a distance of about 80 atoms on the surface of the CCD (camera)," said Vogt, who also designed the high-resolution "HIRES" spectometer on the 10-m Keck I Telescope at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, and the Hamilton spectrometer on Lick's 3-m Shane Telescope. The new spectrometer is the size of a phone booth, Vogt said, and instead of being connected to the telescope via fiber optic cables it is mounted directly on the APF. The instrument's steel and magnesium skeleton keeps the optics in perfect alignment and also keeps the spectrometer from flexing or sagging as the telescope rotates. Other innovations include silver instead of the standard aluminum mirrors and custom-made antireflective lens coatings, Vogt said.
Sep 2007
The scientific observation of celestial radiation that has reached the vicinity of Earth, and the interpretation of these observations to determine the characteristics of the extraterrestrial bodies and phenomena that have emitted the radiation.
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
A kind of spectrograph in which some form of detector, other than a photographic film, is used to measure the distribution of radiation in a particular wavelength region.
An afocal optical device made up of lenses or mirrors, usually with a magnification greater than unity, that renders distant objects more distinct, by enlarging their images on the retina.
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