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Wednesday, February 10 - Smithsonian Lecture Series on Astronomy

The speaker for the final lecture of this series will be Dr. Emilio Falco of the F.L. Whipple Observatory. His talk is entitled "The Newest Droll Star." It will be at 9:00am at the Green Valley Recreation Center and is free and open to the public. We hope to see you there for this final lecture!

Bridge renovations nearly complete

The renovations at the Elephant Head Road bridge are nearly finished and the bridge is mostly open. Traffic might still be directed to use the bypass bridge located next to the main bridge if some work is taking place.

Opening for Staff Technician - Closed

The MMTO has an opening for a Staff Technician, Extended Temporary (posting #S20862). Details and an online application can be found here.

January - April 2016 Observing Schedule

The January-April 2016 observing schedule has been posted, along with program titles.

Ongoing Improvements at the MMTO

Some improvements funded by the Smithsonian Institution are currently taking place at the MMTO. Improvements to the summit road, a new roof and snow melt system for the MMT enclosure, upgrades to the HVAC system, and an upgraded dock lift are all in the works. The new roof will be completed in November and safety ties will be added in the spring. The HVAC upgrades are expected to be finished in November. Work will begin in December on the lift project. Completion of the summit road project is expected in spring 2016.

A "First" Discovered in the Andromeda Galaxy

Using data from the MMTO's Hectospec, astronomers have identified a rare specimen of massive star known as a Wolf-Rayet WN/C. Located in an area of active star formation in the nearby Andromeda Galaxy, the star is believed to be in a short-lived transitional state between two longer phases of its stellar life and, therefore, difficult to catch. While some stars of this type have been found in our own Milky Way, this is the first to have been discovered in Andromeda. Read more about this serendipitous finding here.

Openings for Two Queue Observers - Closed

The MMTO has openings for two queue observers (posting# A20303). More details and an online application can be found here.

Exposure Time Calculator for Hectospec and Binospec

The Telescope Data Center announces the availability of a web based Exposure Time Calculator for Hectospec and the upcoming Binospec. It can be found here. New features include an option for the 1000 line grating on Binospec, as well as a better moonlight model. Questions or suggestions regarding the calculator can be sent to Michael Kurtz.

Re-aluminization Testing and Preparations

Now that summer shutdown tasks have been completed and the MMTO has reopened, staff have resumed working at the UA Steward Observatory Sunnyside Coating Facility in preparation for the realuminization of the primary mirror scheduled for summer 2016. Currently, the work includes evaluating new aluminization hardware and software, including redesigned welder control boxes and automated process control software. Small Chamber (0.4m) experiments have recently been completed; three Large Chamber (2m) tests are planned for September. The results of this work will be used in a full-scale aluminization test at the F.L. Whipple Observatory Base Camp prior to the actual re-aluminization.

'New Horizons' Flyby of Pluto

Read commentary by Dr. Scott Kenyon, Senior Astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, regarding the exciting mission to Pluto!  The Smithsonian Institution and the UA jointly operate the MMTO.