NSF's newest observatories featured at American Astronomical Society meeting

May 24, 2001

Learn about astronomy developments supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Pasadena, Calif., June 3-7, 2001. The science content of these sessions is embargoed until the time of presentation.

Mt. Wilson: Peering Through Old and New Observatories
Media tour: Tues., June 5, 5:00-10:30 p.m.
Visit one of the newest NSF-funded telescope arrays, an optical/infrared interferometer. Then observe the heavens through the historic 100-inch telescope built by the Carnegie Institution in 1917 and used by Edwin Hubble to discover that the universe is expanding. Small charge for box supper. RSVP by June 1.

Early results from The Sloan Digital Kay Survey
News conference: Tues., June 5, 9:15 a.m.
Special session: Thurs., June 7, 10:00-11:30 a.m., C101-104
The Sloan scientific team--which includes 11 institutions--reveals breaking results on objects and structures ranging from the vicinity of Earth to the most distant known objects. The survey will map in detail one-quarter of the entire sky.

Meet the Director: New Directions for NOAO
Media roundtable: Wed., June 6, 4:00 p.m.
New director Jeremy Mould reviews the opportunities he foresees for the NSF National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), including a detailed study of the proposed Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope, a more effective public-private national system for ground-based optical/infrared astronomy, and a leading role for NOAO in the proposed Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

Gemini North sees Light of Stars and Galaxy
Special session: Mon., June 4, 10:00-11:30 a.m., C106
Display Mon., June 4, Exhibit Hall Astronomers present the first scientific results from the 8-meter Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Gemini North recently began routine science operations and has made significant observations of circumstellar disks--areas suspected of containing nascent planets--and uncovered surprising evidence for very recent star-forming events near the center of the Milky Way, demonstrating Gemini's superb mid-infrared performance.

Integrating Research into Astronomy Education
Special session: Mon., June 4, 10:00-11:30 a.m., C212-214
Research experiences for teachers and students help enhance their understanding of how science works and encourage the development of the nation's future scientific workforce. Education officials from NSF's NOAO and National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) demonstrate how the national observatories help meet these needs by providing hands-on research experiences at NSF's Kitt Peak, Green Bank and other observatories.

2MASS Pinpoints 300 Million Objects--or Thereabouts
Topical session: Tues., June 5, 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 2:00-5:30 p.m., C101-104
Display Tues., June 5, Exhibit Hall
From asteroids in our solar system to galaxies in the nearby universe, the entire sky has been surveyed with two 1.3-meter telescopes: one at Mt. Hopkins, Arizona, the other at NSF's Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, Chile. Michael Skrutskie of the University of Massachusetts and colleagues reveal "The Big Picture"--the database resulting from the near-infrared Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS).

CHARA Moves West with California Array
Topical session: Wed., June 6, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 2:30-6:00 p.m., C106
Display Wed., June 6, Exhibit Hall
A team of scientists led by Harold McAlister of Georgia State's Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) recently completed construction of an optical/infrared interferometer project on Mt. Wilson. The six one-meter telescopes, configured in a Y-shaped array, are designed to study stars and their characteristics.

Rejuvenated Arecibo Probes Solar System and Beyond
Special session: Thurs., June 7, 2:00-3:30 p.m., C105
Display Thurs., June 7, Exhibit Hall
Nestled in the hills of Puerto Rico, the 305-meter telescope at NSF's Arecibo Observatory has undergone a major upgrade. It provides greater sensitivity and frequency coverage, state-of-the- art spectrometers and updated observing methods. Scientists review the latest capabilities and present results drawn from radar images of asteroids, planets and their satellites, and from galactic and extragalactic radio observations.
For more information and to RSVP by June 1 for the Mt. Wilson media tour, contact: Amber Jones at 703-292-8070 or email: aljones@nsf.gov.

National Science Foundation

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