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Smithsonian Lecture Series on Astronomy - 2017

The 47th year of this series will begin on January 11 with the first of five lectures. This series is held on Wednesdays 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!

Roadwork December 12-16

There will be equipment operating on Mt Hopkins Rd at km 12.6, just below the gate, starting on Monday, December 12. Operations will not close the road, but equipment will block the road at times. Please coordinate passage through this area with the construction crew via radio. This work will be ongoing for the entire week.

Road Work near Summit - Completed

The heavy equipment operations just below the summit has been completed. Some finishing work with rock and gravel will be done to the parking lot at the summit in the future. We will post that timeline here when we receive it.

Fun Video!

Check out a brief, captioned video of the actual aluminization of our primary mirror and hear comments by our staff during the process.

Aluminization Details

The MMT primary mirror was successfully recoated on September 2, with the coating being uniform across the entire mirror. The measured reflectivity in the blue (at 400nm) is 91.6%, the best achieved at the MMT to date. A minor imperfection is a thin coating along a small area of the south edge (around 6:30) where the glass was shadowed by aluminum foil used to protect the mylar vacuum barrier. Take a look at a photo (you can zoom in), the reflectance plot, and a video of the shot!

Smithsonian Institution Position

A Public Affairs Specialist position is open with our colleagues at the F.L. Whipple Observatory at Mt. Hopkins. It closes on Oct 31.

Adaptive Optics (AO) Upgrade

Our AO system (f/15 secondary) will be undergoing significant renovation beginning in 2017 and will be unavailable for an estimated 18 months. Improvements to the system will include new software and hardware, a realuminized secondary mirror, and upgrades to the ARIES instrument (PIs D. McCarthy and C. Kulesa). The currently scheduled October 2016 observing run will be supported as usual. One or two runs in early 2017 are anticipated, with the normal proposal deadlines and TAC assessment, before the AO system is taken offline.

Bell Jar Lift

To prepare for realuminization of our primary mirror, a bell jar was lifted in place to ready for the recoating shoot. A video provided by C. Beck of Marco Crane, who attached his GoPro to the crane hook, shows a unique perspective of the lift!

Aluminization Preparations

On July 26, MMT staff stripped the aluminum coating from our 6.5m mirror to prepare for its realuminization in a few weeks. Using various cleaning agents, some mopped while others sprayed. Soon only a small portion of coating remained, revealing the honeycomb structure beneath the glass. Read more.

Observing Schedule

The September-December MMT observing schedule and program titles can be found here.