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The MMTO is pleased to announce the arrival of the MMTCam - a sensitive optical imaging camera commissioned in November 2012 by Warren Brown of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. This instrument is mounted on the telescope with the f/5 secondary and offers exciting new capabilities, including responding to targets-of-opportunity, identifying transients, and allowing photometric monitoring of objects such as supernovae. For more information, click here.
To keep up with interesting news in Astronomy, read the online columns found at Astronomy Beat, published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP). It's free for ASP members. ASP membership details can be found at the link above.
Three new staff members have recently joined the MMTO. Joannah Hinz, Assistant Staff Scientist, joined us in July; Erin Martin, Telescope Operator, Sr., started in August; and Richard Cool, Assistant Staff Scientist, joined us in early September. To read more on their backgrounds and MMTO duties, click on the title above.
Astronomers have used light from an exploding star to study a galaxy an astonishing 9.5 billion light-years away. The new data, obtained in part at the MMT Observatory, uses the unique signatures of a distant ultra-luminous supernova to determine the interstellar conditions in the galaxy. This is the first demonstration of such a technique and shows much promise for future studies of the early universe. To read more, click here.
A short period eclipsing binary white dwarf system that was discovered last year by astronomers observing at the MMT shows the effects of general relativistic gravitational waves. To read an exciting update, click here.
Dr. Roger Angel, astronomer and pioneer in telescope technology is looking to use new low cost mirrors to collect solar energy in an effort to mitigate global warming issues. As Director of the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, Dr. Angel oversaw the design and casting of the 6.5-m MMT primary mirror. To learn more about his innovative ideas, click here.
Starting on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, road paving maintenance will begin on Mt. Hopkins Rd. between the Summit and the Ridge (around km 17) and will be completed by approximately Nov. 9. The road in this area will be accessible with no delays at 8:00am, 12-12:30pm, and after 4:00pm each week day. It will be accessible between those times but with possible long delays. No work will be done on weekends. The work crews will have FLWO radios.
For a fun report on some local professional and amateur astronomers, read this NPR report.
A recent article in the LA Times discusses the potential impact of mining upon nearby observatories. You can read the article here.
A documentary entitled "The City Dark" is currently being shown on PBS channels. For local comments, Arizona Public Media interviewed Grant Williams, MMTO Director, and Scott Kardel of the International Dark-Sky Association. To hear their comments and to learn more about the documentary, click here.